Who are Channel Partners?
When your business needs additional channels of sales to
then you employ channel partners to fulfill those needs. It is a way to increase sales and expand your business by creating partnerships and adding to your workforce.
What is Channel Partner Enablement?
Channel partner enablement is the process whereby you enable and empower your channel partners to efficiently sell your products and services.
Channel enablement encompasses,
Providing proper technical tools to your partners to work
Providing the right content to them like products & solutions playbook, information about buyers, business, territories, etc
These help in equipping your partners with everything they need to represent you professionally.
What is the benefit of the channel partner enablement program?
An enablement program, when properly crafted and managed, can increase your market share and improve your bottom line.
Research shows that businesses that have invested in partner enablement programs have witnessed 40% growth in their annual revenue.
How to craft an Effective Partner Enablement Program?
1. Understand the enablement requirements of your channel partners
Even before you begin thinking about partner enablement, you need to clearly understand your channel partner’s enablement needs. For that, you need to study your channel partners inside out.
Have a conversation with the management and a few sellers of the sales channel and understand,
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- And what do they need to successfully sell your products?
This information allows you to design an enablement strategy that truly helps and empowers the channel sellers
2. Create a solid partner enablement strategy
To Build a solid enablement strategy you need to focus on the below 3 aspects and make sure that these 3 are aligned perfectly.
1.Right Messaging strategy
You need to keep a consistent communication going with the channel partners. Send regular communications to them on:
- Your market and industry updates
- Competitor information
- Information about the new product or feature releases
- Information about the offers that are lined-up
This helps in driving top-of-the-mind recall amongst the channel sales reps
You may differ the content and frequency of your communication from channel partner to channel partner, depending upon the maturity of the relationship
2. Right Training
It’s critical to empower your channel partners with the right training in order to make them knowledgeable and sales-ready.
- Organize instructor-led training sessions once every quarter and train them on
- Your Products and services
- The technology platforms that they need to use etc
- Also, create a digital academy where you put up all the study materials, collaterals, best practices, case studies, demo videos, etc. This way the channel reps can easily access any piece of training content and learn whenever they need
This equips the sellers with the right knowledge to excel in their job
3. Right Engagement
Driving engagement is a crucial part of the partner enablement program. Your partners need to be engaged in their training and work in order to excel in their job.
Here are various ways to effectively engage them
- Conduct sales contests with various interesting themes like NFL, March Madness, etc
- Conduct theme-based contests around learning as well to make the learning fun and interesting for the reps
- Have them regularly participate in various training activities like taking quizzes, video coaching assignments, etc
- Put up the names of the top performers in the contests on a live leaderboard and reward them with virtual points and badges
- Provide them the option of redeeming these points for some exciting gift vouchers
This helps in creating a friendly competitive environment on the sales floor and engages everyone effectively.
3. Don’t make training a one-time event
As discussed earlier, you can conduct the formal instructor-led training sessions once every quarter. But limiting your training to just this is not ideal. If you do the training as a one-time
event, then there is a high possibility that your channel sales reps are going to forget it very soon. Also, they will lack the knowledge of applying the training practically in their job.
So, in order to ensure that your training sticks, you need to provide continuous and consistent learning opportunities to them.
Wondering how to do that? A simple way is to regularly reinforce knowledge.
Here are a few ways to regularly reinforce knowledge and keep your training activities continuous:
Microlearning: Break down the lengthy training content into smaller nuggets. Then, convert these nuggets into interesting media formats like infographics, animated videos, podcasts, storyboards, etc, and deliver them to the learners regularly on their mobile devices.
These Microlearning feeds help the learners to:
- Quickly and easily learn and digest the crisp training content
- Retain and remember that content for a long time
- Access and refer to it at any time and from anywhere. Just with a few clicks on their mobile devices
Quizzes: Conduct short quiz tests with about 5-10 questions, once or twice every week. Each time you can choose a different topic to conduct the quiz test on. Like,
- Product knowledge
- Market knowledge
- Competitor information
- Customers’ information etc
Video Coaching: Assign video coaching assignments to the channel reps and ask them to record a video of themselves demonstrating their sales conversation skills and submit it.
You can then review the submitted videos and give a score based on the performance. And, you can also give constructive feedback through which the participants can improve themselves going forward.
Also, you can select a particularly good video of a participant and mark it as a “Top Video” and share it with everyone. This helps the channel sales team to learn from the best and adopt some sales best practices.
4. Involve the management of your channel partners in planning various initiatives
Whenever you are about to,
- Bring in a change in your sales process
- Or introduce new products
- Or begin new initiatives
Include the channel management and channel stakeholders in the planning.
This makes them feel empowered and included. Also, it makes them understand how crucial their contributions are to your business.
5. Add gamification to the mix
Organize games around sales learning and sales activities to make the enablement process fun and enjoyable for the sellers. Give some interesting themes to these contests like NFL, March Madness
, Summer Olympics, etc. This creates a sportive environment on the sales floor and inspires participation and engagement widely from the participants.
Here are some ways to gamify the enablement process:
- Conduct polls and surveys in the middle of the instructor-led training sessions. Gamify those polls by rewarding the ones who give the most accurate and creative answers in the polls
- Gamify learning activities like quizzes and video coaching . Reward the reps with the highest score in the quizzes and video coaching with exciting prizes
- You can also gamify various small and big sales activities. For example, you can reward
- The reps who sell the highest number of units of a new product
- The reps who bring in the highest amount of quarterly or annual revenue
- The rep who closes more number of deals
- The rep who brings in the highest number of leads in a day
- Those who make 100 calls everyday
- The person who holds the highest number of demos in a week etc
6. Run monthly awareness programs
This helps in making your training highly focused. Also, it helps the channel reps to perfect various skills one after the other.
Basically here, you take 3 subjects every month. For example, this month you take
- Competitive data
- Value selling
Now, perfect the seller’s knowledge on these three things by
- Sending them regular knowledge reinforcement, study materials, training videos, etc
- Conducting quizzes and video coaching to test their proficiency
Once these 3 skills are perfected, select 3 other topics the following month and improve the sellers’ knowledge on those. Repeat this process until you are confident that the channel sellers are perfect in all the skills that they will need to successfully sell your products in the market
This helps in creating transparency between the trainers and trainees. It avoids overwhelming the trainees with too many takeaways at the same time.
7. Hold annual kick-off meetings for the partners
Hold kickoff meetings for all your channel partners every year. This provides a great opportunity for them to
- Learn more about your company
- Discover new things about your business
- Meet with your company’s executives
- Meet and collaborate with the other channel partners
This way they will be able to associate themselves more closely with your business
8. Measure ROI
When you are investing so much time, efforts and money into the enablement of your partners, you would obviously want to measure the ROI of it. And, communicate the success back to your leadership team.
Here is how you can do that:
- Conduct regular surveys (once or twice a month) and ask the channel sellers,
- What do they think of your training
- How useful has it been for them
- And, what would they want to change or improvement
- Measure activity metrics of the channel sellers like,
- The number of leads brought in by each seller
- Number demos given each week
- The average conversion rate etc
- Lastly, you need to keep a track and see if your organizational goals are being met consistently. Like,
- If your channel partners have consistently met the monthly or quarterly goals that are set for them
- If they are meeting the revenue targets of the company
- If they are making the profits that you desire
- If they are able to successfully introduce your new products and sell them in the market
Looking for sales contest ideas for your Channel Partners?
Sales Contest Ideas for Channel Sales Partners
Looking for ways to train your distributor salesforce?
7 Best Practices to Train Your Distributors SalesForce
Check out more resources on Sales Enablement
4 Best Practices to have a Perfect Sales Enablement Process
How can sales enablement help to drive new hire onboarding