How to Gain a Competitive Advantage with Channel Sales Enablement

Struggling to motivate an underperforming network of distributors or channel partners? Looking for ways to gain a strategic advantage over your competitors while maximizing channel sales? The problem may not be the distributor(s). The problem may be a lack of support.

Sure, any business with a network of indirect sellers can build revenue. But are you making the most of this relationship by maximizing the revenue contribution that can be obtained from them? This, in essence, is the goal of channel sales enablement. To optimize channel relationships for better revenue, happier distributors and strategic competitive advantage.

But how?

A rising tide…

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats, and it’s an apt expression for channel sales enablement. The better you are at supporting your channel distributors with the resources they need to be successful, the better revenue gains for everyone.

To do that requires viewing the world through the lens of your distributors and channel partners.  What are their needs? How can you support them to better engage with potential buyers, and to ultimately increase the number of leads that turn into deals? Are you sending partners quality leads worth following up? Is it easy for them to provide ongoing feedback on the status of each one?

The distributor perspective is key as you work to anticipate their needs and provide the right product information at the right time. The tricky part is this: All this communication needs to happen without disrupting their daily activities or requiring them to do something new.

The problem with portals

Herein lies the problem with partner portals. They are easy for manufacturers, while inconvenient, at times irrelevant, and ignorable, for partners. Portals are a one-size-fits-all solution that puts the burden on the distributor to access during the right stage of the buyer journey. The information they access isn’t context aware, doesn’t have “right timing” going for it, and is not targeted specifically to a channel partner’s unique requirements.

Enter “context aware” sales enablement

Context aware sales enablement puts the right information into the hands of the right person at the right time. The reality of successfully executing this process, however, is no easy task. Particularly the timing element. Send information too early and it will be put aside and forgotten. Send it too late and it’s irrelevant.

To land in the “just right” sweet spot requires a shared platform for collaboration that is not adjacent to core workflow but integrated into it. That means it leverages email, resembles spreadsheets, and has a light but secure interface that is easily accessed from a desktop or mobile device.

Context aware sales enablement provides what portals can’t. It pushes contextual information to the channel partner by deal stage, product line, customer type, or geography. The criteria doesn’t matter as much as being able to segment and supply information based on their individual needs.

Here’s a real-world example of context-aware channel sales enablement in action.

Manufacturer A sells its products through channel partner B and uses a shared platform for real-time collaboration and engagement. As the channel partner is leading a potential buyer through the sales funnel, he or she has instant access to helpful product information, including data sheets, installation and maintenance pdfs, that help educate the buyer and win the deal. The channel partner doesn’t need to go searching for updates, or log-in to a portal. The information they need is in line with their activities as they receive a lead, update status, and track activity.

Manufacturer A has turned sales enablement into a competitive advantage and the revenue contribution of their channel partner increases as a result.

Sales enablement is an essential function to master and requires viewing the world from your channel partners’ point of view. Make it your mission to make them successful and you will be as well.