Channel Sales Enablement

Channel sales enablement is an ongoing process of messaging, training, marketing, communicating, coaching and leading by example and when implemented correctly helps reseller sales teams to succeed in selling your products and services.

Success starts with a crisp and clear value proposition, essentially a pact between you and the buyer: i. How is it exactly that you create value for your prospective buyers, ii. What can the buyer reasonably expect from using your products or services?

I recall the early days in the channel at MicroStrategy, prior to the release of channel readyMicroStrategy7 and our first proper API; when not only our message was vague, but our code-base was vaguer; - a huge Visual Basic executable that was a bear for partners to interface their applications. We had a commissioned sales team pounding the streets signing up anyone who would meet with us and 90% of the partners we signed didn't open the box....sound familiar?

Lots of activity, but no pull through - you may have the channel sales enablement blues.

When You Are Truly Ready, The Channel Will Show Up

In retrospect, I believe the channel will show up when your product is mature enough and your company is ready to support a channel, and here are some key indicators if your company is ready or not:
  • The entire company from the HR Department to the mail room is fully on board with your direct sales approach.
  • Your sales team only has time to handle inbound leads and has no time to think about finding their own outbound leads.
  • You are producing a complete product that your customers love. Essentially, your conception of your value proposition is the same as your consumers, and you are meeting this expectation.
If you are satisfying these criteria, yet continue to struggle with channel revenue growth, then you might find the following case study of one of Avnet's channel enablement initiatives interest.

Avnet Case Study

Avnet created WhiteboardSelling stories for their 3 top selling products (independent of the vendors) and trained 3,000+ partners globally to tell the story.

Avnet implemented WhiteboardSelling, an interactive sales enablement solution that gives salespeople the ability to convey their organization’s message and value proposition visually – on a whiteboard or any other writing surface – in a compelling, confident and consistent fashion.

Avnet worked hand-in-hand with WhiteboardSelling to launch the Pro Series Whiteboard Symposium, a program aimed at offering training and development to VAR partners in 10 countries worldwide.

Avnet and WhiteboardSelling created custom, interactive whiteboards for three Avnet product lines, including NetApp and Oracle, which they used to train sales professionals at their VAR partners. Based on feedback from the participating sales professionals, the whiteboarding sessions helped them to better position and differentiate the products in the market.

The free, half-day training sessions were offered in local languages to sales teams around the world. Read the whole case study

Take-Aways

  1. Triage support for existing partners and define, focus, attract and recruit "Ideal Partners", who may be non-traditional software resellers if they are SaaS sales channels.
  2. Implement an Inbound Marketing system and methodology to increase lead quality and quantity and co-market and share leads with partners,
  3. Create effective messaging and train your partners to use it. I have been selling for nearly 30 years and have seen many sales training and enablement efforts fail to deliver sustainable results. Whiteboard visual storytelling that captures the core value from using the products and engages buyers in dialogue around their issues produces culture change and is highly recommended for channel sales enablement.
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