The top performing sales organisations prioritise channel enablement strategies, recognising sales content and its delivery is the key to increasing effectiveness, productivity and revenue growth by way of end customer retention.
Have you noticed your channel sales performance levels and revenue growth slowing? More often than not this is a result of organisations having a non-existent or outdated analogue channel enablement strategy. However, having a non-existent or outdated channel enablement strategy, impacts the two core aspects channel managers put in the limelight; sales performance levels and revenue growth.
Too much sales content and information overload.
The digital world is rapidly growing, an immense amount of content has become easily accessible. Consequently vendors tend to overcompensate on the amount of content they provide to their channel partners, as a result information overload occurs. Overload occurs when too much content is received, channel managers and their sales team become so overwhelmed they struggle to find what is actually relevant.
As a result rather than spending their day selling channel sales teams spend up to 40% of their time sifting through information and adapting the content that is relevant. Thus impacting productivity rates of channel teams.
Low training retention rates.
Channel partners affected by information overload, can encounter the implication of low training retention rates, research shows up to 87% of training content is forgotten within 30 days. The onboarding process needs to be focussed on the content that is most effective at a particular point in time. However, training channel partners with an immense amount of content is ineffective. If salespeople are unable to determine which content is the most effective during the onboarding process, this results in turning to a trial and error approach until a successful outcome is reached. As a result poor sales productivity increases as well as the ramp up time for new sales starters.
Sales Content - Different contexts, formats and presentation styles.
Vendors often have multiple channel partners who are often partners to multiple vendors. As a result channel salespeople often receive information in different contexts, formats and presentation styles, thus a lack of consistency occurs. Sales content becomes very difficult to quickly understand and retain, impacting the consistency of key messages. Channel managers who receive content in different contexts, formats and presentation styles run the risk of their team interpreting and communicating the same content in a slightly different way, distorting the overall key message.
Unorganised sales content - difficult to locate.
The technology industry is one of the fastest moving industries regarding new innovations, as a result content tends to become outdated extremely quickly. A major struggle for channel managers is ensuring their sales content is up to date and delivered just-in-time. However, without enablement strategies in place relevant sales content is extremely difficult to locate in amongst ‘junk’ content. Therefore channel managers are unable to deliver information when their channel salespeople need it most, resulting in poor sales performance.
No feedback mechanisms.
Managing channels when multiple channel partners are involved can be an extremely complicated task for channel managers. When there are no feedback mechanisms in place a feedback gap occurs, resulting in miscommunications between vendors and channel partners. A feedback gap not only results in vendor-partner miscommunications, but also impacts a channel managers ability to ensure their efforts are spent in the right place, as they can not pin-point what is delivering the most ROI. Channel managers unable to keep their eyes on the wider environment, results in partner sales teams using ineffective sales insights and sales content. Sales productivity slows, sales effectiveness decreases and the feedback gap remains open.
Diagnostic sales content not readily available.
Diagnostic sales information and discovery questions are crucial in order for channel partners to ensure products and services are the right fit, delivering maximum value to the prospect. When channel partners are selling multiple vendors products/services, remembering key diagnostic sales content for each product and service can be difficult. Without this knowledge channel partners may misjudge the fit, or prospects may not find any value in the proposition. As a result channel partner productivity can be affected. Misjudging the product and service fit or prospects finding no value in the proposition are unlikely to take the next step in the buying stage, causing a longer sales cycle.
Longer sales cycle.
Prospects today are extremely self-sufficient when it comes to researching solutions for their problem, resulting from the vast amount of online content. Research has shown on average prospects complete around 60% of the buying process independently before reaching out to salespeople (Corporate Executive Board). Therefore it is extremely important to understand the stages in the decision-making buying process in order to deliver the correct sales content and insights for each stage.
However, when no channel enablement strategy is in place it becomes rather difficult to pin-point which stage a prospect is in. Basically this results in a longer sales cycle, without the knowledge of a prospects stage in the buying process salespeople resort to a game of 20 questions during sales conversations in the hope they will receive a hint to their problem. Even once they do determine a prospect's problem they are at a disadvantage as they have provided no value to the prospect. Therefore the sales cycle is lengthened as they will require another meeting to discuss their solution.
Over engineering of sales materials.
In order for channel partners to be productive it is essential information is stored in one place accessible at anytime, anywhere. However, currently 40% of a sales team’s time is spent researching, locating and adapting relevant content, a result of information siloing. Siloing occurs when systems can not integrate together, in terms of sales information siloing causes managers and salespeople to lose engagement when relevant information is difficult to locate.
No correlation between investments and profits.
Vendors tend to measure the success of their channel partners on sales revenue figures, however basing success on revenue can only tell you so much. When vendors are provided with no sales metrics other than sales revenue figures the link between sales investments and sales profits is very unclear. Pin-pointing efforts delivering the most ROI is near impossible without sales metrics and feedback. Vendors may see that a channel partner’s sales productivity has increased, say by 5% in the last month. But how do they know which sales content contribute to the customer to make the purchase? the reality is they can’t.
Too many channel partners.
Multiple channel partners enables vendors to gain larger audience reach, however you can run the risk of outsourcing to an unfeasible amount of vendors. Channels partners need nurturing and continuous up-skilling, due to new innovations in the industry. Nurturing takes time and resource, which can be extremely hard to find, especially when channel managers are the go-to problem solvers. Vendors spreading their resources too thin run the risk of slowed sales revenue and productivity, as they struggle to provide the attention each channel partner requires. A limited number of channel partners enhances a manager’s ability to provide higher quality sales training. Therefore managers can drive results with improved coverage of their target audience with better sales content delivery.
Lack of communication.
Channel managers have basically become the go-to problem solvers for vendor/partner queries and problems. As a result channel managers have become distracted from their primary goals, as well as leading to a lack of communication with channel partners. Poor communication leads to decreased visibility between vendors and channel partners. In turn a strained relationship occurs, impacting a channel partner’s satisfaction and loyalty. A great relationship between vendors and channel partners is essential for gaining top-of-mind awareness, especially when multiple channel partners are involved.
Sales productivity and revenue growth are the two most important aspects organisations keep their eyes on. After all they are what keeps the organisation going, sales productivity effectively drives revenue growth. It is clear that sales content and vendor-channel communication is the centre-point of the implications from a non-existent or outdated channel enablement strategy.
If you want to improve your channel productivity in order to drive sales revenue growth the answer is simple, prioritise channel enablement. For more on channel enablement in the technology sector download our Five Step Guide To Enable Channel Sales today.