Nobody likes change – but change is often necessary for sales growth. So how do you sell change to your supply chain partners and get them to modify their behavior? How do you gain mindshare and get your channel partners to take action, whether it’s to actively participate in your service sales efforts, make use of a new technology platform, sell a new product or service offering, or attend an event you are hosting?
The truth is, channel sales and marketing programs often lose momentum because they lack partner buy-in, training and support, and ongoing communication. Don’t let your service sales program fall short: follow these four steps to gain mindshare and change partner behavior – while also supporting your service sales growth.
Step 1: Deliver
The most critical step in changing your partner’s behavior is delivering your message.
Clearly define your program message and how it will help your customers succeed. The benefits need to outweigh the pain of the effort – so show them the return on investment. A well-crafted message can lead to your program’s traction and success, but don’t forget to keep it short and simple, and to limit distractions.
Example of the AutoQuote™ Program message:
The AutoQuote™ program helps channel partners quickly and easily close more service sales deals. The program automatically creates renewal quotes — with your branding included — and delivers them via email on your behalf to your customers. With this proven automated solution, you will address all of your service opportunities – no matter how small – and eliminate the administrative tasks of creating renewal quotes while closing more service sales deals. Let me tell you how to get started.
Step 2: Alert
Alert your channel partners at least three times in three different ways. That is a total of nine messages to drive awareness and action. Everyone finds information in different places – so hit all of them. Here are some examples of how you can communicate with your partners to reach your program goals:
- Get Social: Add the message to your social media campaign and post it multiple times. Use video to clearly communicate to your audience.
- Surf the Web: Create a banner ad on your company website and partner site with a link to a splash page providing more information.
- Send Email Blast: Send out a targeted email campaign and/or piggy back off an existing campaign.
- Speak Up: Have your event speakers mention the program at industry events.
- Dial Out: Employ a dedicated program expert to call your partners and take inbound training and support calls.
- Start Talking: Get your sales agents communicating the message. Provide training as much as possible.
- Support: Provide ways for your partners to gain more information. Host free web seminars, create on-demand training demos, be available at events, and get one-on-one with your partners when possible.
The ability for you to effectively and frequently communicate with your partners will dramatically impact the outcome of your channel sales and marketing campaign.
Incent the “right” partners. Stop giving incentives to the wrong partners and incent the right ones. Invest in the partners who demonstrate change and take an active part in your program. And don’t forget to thank them for making the change. Your incentives can be monetary or solely built around recognition. Help them succeed and they will help you.
Step 4: Analyze & Enhance
Have your partners increased usage of your service sales technology platform? What are the performance metrics – are they transacting more AutoQuote™’s? Examine the results of your program. Compare your analysis to past programs and see what you can do to improve.
How do you improve? What changes can you make to gain greater mindshare? Talk to your customers and get feedback. Pick a few partners to call and ask, “How are we doing?” Find out who is not participating and target them directly. Find out why they aren’t participating and immediately make changes to your program. Then analyze the results again. You have to be willing to change if you expect your partners to.
A Few Final Words
It clearly takes effort to get your supply chain partners moving in the direction you want them to go. And it takes time. But change will happen, and the above methods are tried and true: if you follow them, you will realize success with your service sales efforts and achieve revenue growth as well.