Selling through partners, such as distributors and agents, is referred to as channel sales. It is a separate revenue stream for companies that allows them to boost sales and revenue growth without having to increase their headcount.
According to Forrester, a whopping 75% of business is conducted through channel sales. In many industries indirect sales and partnerships are the main sales channels. To make the most out of your sales channels you need to invest into channel sales enablement.
What is Channel Sales Enablement?
Channel Sales Enablement is the process of providing your partners with the tools, resources, and knowledge to sell your solution effectively.
Channel sales or partner enablement is similar to enabling your internal sales organization. Both include similar initiatives such as onboarding, product training, and providing access to up-to-date content. However, there are some unique aspects to channel sales enablement.
Sales partners are not your employees
First of all, your partners are not your employees. You can’t force them to pay attention to your products or services and they don’t have to attend any of your training sessions. This means that you need to win over their attention.
You can’t force them to pay attention to your products or services and they don’t have to attend any of your training sessions. This means that you need to win over their attention.
Your partners often sell your competitors' products as well
Another thing to consider is that your channel sales partners often sell the products and services of your competitors. Your offering might not be unique in the partner's portfolio, making it even more important to stand out with great enablement services.
Channel sales enablement is essential for leveraging indirect sales channels effectively. It's not just about equipping partners with resources; it's about engaging them compellingly amidst competition.
In this article, we will explore specific actions to empower your partners to enthusiastically and successfully sell your offering.
Enablement Services To Channel Sales
Channel sales teams can be enabled in many ways. At a minimum, these two crucial elements should be in your portfolio of enablement services:
1) Knowledge and skill development
2) Access to relevant resources
When onboarding new partners you want to ensure they have sufficient knowledge about your offering and you want to continue building on that knowledge through continuous training. Integrating new partners into your sales ecosystem and ensuring they have the necessary knowledge and skills is a top priority.
Tailored and impactful sales materials are equally important. Your material empowers your partners to successfully represent and sell your products or services. Providing easy access to these materials on any device in any environment is a must. Your partners need to be able to find the relevant information when discussing with potential customers.
A robust and efficient channel sales network involves both training your partners and providing the right content.
💡 With a centralized system for storing and accessing your sales materials, your team can easily find the resources they need to succeed, freeing them up to focus on what they do best: selling.
Learn more about What is the Best Way to Provide Content to Your Sales Team?
Channel Sales Partner Knowledge and Skill Development
Channel sales partner knowledge and skill development is the foundation for a strong sales partnership. Next, we'll cover the essential elements of knowledge and skill development for channel sales partners.
Effective Channel Partner Onboarding and Training
Channel sales enablement has a similar starting point as onboarding new hires to your sales team. You need to start with training them on your offering.
During the onboarding process, you should get your new partner familiarized with your offering and how it’s priced, the core technologies to be used, what your typical sales process looks like, and what is expected from the partnership.
The onboarding process is your first enablement touchpoint with the partner. This is where you start building a long-lasting relationship with them. Your goal should be to make onboarding as smooth as possible.
Here are some concrete actions you can take to start your enablement journey the right way:
You need to be proactive in the onboarding process by providing relevant information and resources to the partners and tracking their progress. Remember that it’s not the partner's job to be interested in your offering, they don’t work for you. You need to be active in keeping them engaged.
This also applies to continuously training your channel sales partners. You need to be proactive in keeping the partners up-to-date on your offering. Your product might be one of many that the partner sells and it’s essential that they know what’s your differentiated value from the competition.
Tailor the Process
The onboarding process should also be tailored to the partner. For example, your partner might sell only a fraction of your offering - you don’t want to overload the partner with information about products and services they’re not interested in. Tailor the onboarding material, resources, and information so that it’s highly relevant to the partner.
The continuous training should also be tailored. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to training; every dealer is different, and so should your sales training curriculum be. Keep the partner up-to-date without overwhelming them with unnecessary information.
Establish a Dedicated Support System
Remember to establish a dedicated support system for your channel partners. This system should provide them with direct access to a specialized team or a dedicated partner manager who can address any queries, provide guidance, and offer assistance whenever needed.
Having a reliable and accessible support system in place not only eases the onboarding process but also instills confidence in your partners. It shows that you are invested in their success and are readily available to help them overcome any hurdles, thereby strengthening the partnership from the very beginning.
This support system not only enhances their experience but also keeps your company top of mind as a reliable and responsive partner.
Ultimately, your attentiveness and efficiency play a significant role in keeping your partners satisfied and enthusiastic about selling your offerings, fostering a healthy and productive business relationship.
💡 It goes beyond a mere introduction to the company's products or services, encompassing training on the company culture, sales processes, customer relationship management systems, and industry knowledge. Learn How To Master Sales Onboarding: The Key to Success in B2B Sales.
Relevant Sales Content and Resources for Successful Channel Sales
Sales content, material, collateral, assets, documents, resources, information. Regardless of what you call it, sales enablement content and materials are a fundamental component of enabling your channel partners.
There are multiple different types of material that your channel sales require.
Here are some fundamental areas where you should be able to produce content:
1. Product Information Sheets and White Papers
Detailed documents that provide comprehensive information about each product, including features, benefits, specifications, and use cases. These materials help your sales partners understand and communicate the value proposition of the products effectively.
2. Training Manuals and Guides
These materials are essential for educating channel partners about the products and the sales process. Training manuals typically include product usage instructions, troubleshooting tips, and frequently asked questions. Guides might also cover selling techniques and best practices specific to your industry.
3. Marketing and Sales Collateral
This includes various materials like brochures, flyers, posters, and also digital content for online marketing. This collateral is designed to attract and engage potential customers, providing sales representatives with tools to visually and verbally communicate your brand message.
4. Price Lists and Discount Structures
Clearly outlined documents that provide information on product pricing, available discounts, and special offers. These are crucial for sales representatives to provide accurate and competitive quotes to potential buyers.
5. Case Studies and Success Stories
Real-world examples of how your products or services have successfully met the needs of other customers. These stories can be powerful tools in demonstrating the practical value and effectiveness of what you're offering, helping to build trust and credibility with potential clients.
A sales enablement platform allows you to easily centralize all of the above materials in one place and to distribute only relevant assets. More importantly, it serves as a one-stop shop for the channel partner to access just-in-time information wherever they are on any device.
This seamless access to information not only streamlines the sales process but also ensures that your partners are always equipped with the latest and most accurate data, enhancing their ability to sell effectively.
💡 Laborie needed a sales enablement tool that would match their specific needs and different sales channels. Learn how Laborie uses Showell to enable their distributor network: Why Laborie Replaced Their Sales Enablement Tool with Showell.
The Best Tool for Channel Sales Enablement
When it comes to enabling your channel partners, a sales enablement platform is a great choice for you. It can serve as the foundation for all of your enablement efforts.
It’s the platform for storing and distributing information and resources and it can be used to onboard and train new and existing partners. Most importantly it will serve as the single source of truth for the partner.
Here are five essential sales enablement platform features that help you enable your different channel sales partners.
Centralized Sales Content Management
A sales enablement platform streamlines the organization and distribution of content. It acts as a centralized repository for all sales materials, ensuring that every partner has access to the most current and relevant information.
This centralization eliminates inconsistencies and reduces the time and effort spent in searching for or updating materials.
It also allows for easy updating and maintenance of content, ensuring that all channel partners have immediate access to the latest information, marketing collateral, product updates, and training materials.
When everything is stored in one place, you can be sure that everyone has access to only relevant up-to-date information. No more worrying about partners using outdated pricing information, incorrect product information, or material with old branding. Everything is always updated, on-brand, and on hand for every sales partner.
💡 Essentially, the concept of sales content management seems as simple as storing and organizing files. However, with a strategic approach, modern sales content management can exponentially simplify how your sales reps find, use, and share sales materials. Here's All You Need To know About Sales Content Management.
Actionable Sales Insights and Analytics
By utilizing analytics within the sales enablement platform, you can gather valuable insights into how sales materials are being used by your channel partners. This data can reveal which materials are most effective, how frequently they're being accessed, and which parts of your content are most engaging.
These insights allow for data-driven decisions, helping to optimize sales strategies, refine content, and improve training methods. Moreover, understanding partner engagement with various resources can guide future content development and strategy alignment.
One of the great insights that you can get is who is using your content and how. Let’s say you have five distributors in a region and two of those are producing clearly higher sales results than the others.
Now you can check from the analytics how the usage of material differs between high-performing and low-performing distributors in the region. You can use this information to guide the low-performing partners toward the material that resonates the most with the clients in the region.
💡 By analyzing data and insights about your sales collateral, you can gain valuable insights on what is and isn't working, and how your content is being utilized by your channel sales partners.
Learn more about The What, Who, Why and How of Sales Content Analytics.
Group-Based Access Control
This feature of sales enablement platforms allows for the creation of different access levels based on the roles or groups within your channel partner network. It ensures that partners only access the content that is relevant to them, thereby avoiding information overload and ensuring a more focused and efficient use of resources.
Group-based access control is particularly beneficial in managing a diverse network of partners who may require access to different sets of information based on their market, expertise, or level of partnership.
Groups can be used to segment your partners based on different criteria. You could group your partners e.g. based on geographic region, market segment, or product focus. Once the channel partners are segmented, distributing relevant information to each group is much simpler and streamlined.
Localization and Language-based Content Management
If your channel sales partners are based in different regions, the ability to localize content and target it based on language is invaluable.
Sales enablement platforms that offer localization features enable you to tailor your content to different regions, taking into account local languages, cultural nuances, and market-specific information.
Together with group-based access control, localization is a powerful feature. You can ensure that your partners in different regions have access to material in their local language, especially in markets where the end customers expect communication to happen in the local language.
This enhances the content's relevance and increases the effectiveness of your channel partners in different geographical areas, contributing to better engagement and sales performance.
Digital Sales Rooms
A relatively new but increasingly important feature, Digital Sales Room (DSR) offers a virtual space where sales representatives can collaborate with buyers and customers.
In the context of channel sales, this means providing partners with a personalized, branded space where they can engage with their clients, share relevant content, and track client interactions.
Digital Sales Rooms could be your way of differentiating from the competition. The DSR gives more power to your partner to facilitate a more interactive and customer-centric sales process. It is a great tool for enabling your channel partners to provide an impressive buying experience to your customers.
Your channel partners can easily share material with a prospective customer through the DSR and they can track their engagement and get powerful insights. This includes identifying who has opened the shared documents, if new people are involved in the process, which documents are being viewed, etc. This can lead to improved customer relationships, shorter sales cycles, and higher conversion rates.
What's more, you also gain access to these analytics! It's a mutually beneficial situation: your partner gains additional value, and you learn which materials truly resonate in the market.
👍 Looking for a channel sales enablement tool? This guide aims to explore the critical factors to consider when choosing a platform that builds a strong foundation for your channel sales efforts, enabling your partners to excel in their sales endeavors. Find out How to Choose the Right Channel Sales Enablement Platform.
Key Takeaways to Enable Your Channel Sales
When it comes to enabling your channel partners to succeed in selling your offering, keep in mind the following aspects.
Effective Sales Onboarding and Training: Onboarding is the first step in building a long-lasting relationship with your channel partners. It should be proactive, tailored to the partner’s needs, and should include continuous training to keep them up-to-date.
The Role of Sales Content and Material: Providing your partners with comprehensive content like product information sheets, training manuals, marketing collateral, and case studies is essential. This material helps them understand and communicate the value of your products effectively.
Advantages of a Sales Enablement Platform: Implementing a sales enablement platform brings numerous benefits, including centralized content management, actionable insights through analytics, group-based access control, and localization. Digital Sales Rooms are an innovative feature that enhances customer engagement.
To fully grasp how a sales enablement platform can transform your channel sales, book a demo with our sales enablement expert – Take the first step towards a more efficient and effective channel sales.