Is your Channel Engagement Approach Functional, or High Functioning?

This is the first blog in a two-part series that explores the differences between passive and active channel engagement, and provides actionable steps to help manufacturers create a high-functioning, outcome-driven channel sales engine.

5 Characteristics of Passive Channel Engagement

Selling through channel partners and distributors is an established, proven, and scalable go-to-market approach for manufacturers of all types. Channel partners that specialize by industry, region, or account are an important piece of the sales puzzle and provide access to large market opportunities without little to no internal investment.

The channel sales model, however, is not without its challenges — mostly notably disparate systems and processes fraught with inefficiencies, miscommunications and missed opportunities. This leaky system tends to inhibit revenue optimization. Sure, you’ve got a car that runs. But it’s not firing on all cylinders, and it’s bleeding precious fuel.

Activities versus outcomes

To date, “enabling” the channel has been more focused on activities rather than outcomes. Sign up channel partners, make sure they have access to the information they need, send them sales leads, support them when they request it, and reap the benefits of their efforts.

This passive approach is functional, but not high-functioning. It does not give channel partners any reason or motivation to engage. And most importantly the passive approach doesn’t promote ‘sales enablement’ in order to help channel partners sell.

Companies that continue to use passive channel engagement practices are losing money. We characterize passive channel engagement as the use of the following:

  • Web-based portals
    Providing a web-based partner portal or secure site that asks channel partners to log in and learn software. These tools offer suffer from low usage and low relevance.
  • Internally oriented CRM
    Trying to manage external selling relationships with an internally oriented CRM system that does not accommodate for the disparate parties involved and their often conflicting processes and systems.
  • Incomplete
    Absence of valuable feedback and input via a continuous and collaborative approach to information sharing.
  • Inconsistent communication
    Ad hoc communication around the quality of sales leads, status on open opportunities and needs related to training and education.
  • Old data
    Relying upon emails and spreadsheets to collect, aggregate, and report on channel sales performance creating a lagging view of revenue generation and goal tracking.

In our next blog in the active versus passive channel engagement series, we’ll explore how to create a higher-performing sales engine and share 6 tips for developing an active approach to channel engagement.