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How to Increase Certainty in Your 2015 Planning Be More Collaborative

We know that 30 percent of the sales came from leads generated by the company, and the partners generate leads for the remaining 70 percent of the revenue.

Relayware Partner Relationship Management

How to Increase Certainty in Your 2015 Planning

Be More Collaborative

By Bob Mann

I am a board member of several great companies, and recently at a board meeting, we were looking at the sales pipeline, which all comes in through channel partners.

We know that 30 percent of the sales came from leads generated by the company, and the partners generate leads for the remaining 70 percent of the revenue. Because of this, we only have true visibility into 1/3 of the leads – the company generated leads. The other 2/3 is much murkier, because partners are loathed to share their pipeline with the vendor. They believe that as soon as they share their pipeline, the vendor is all over their case about when the deal will close. Therefore, partners often only share with the vendor those prospects that are very, very likely, and the rest of their pipeline is a black hole.

Now, we have some history that tells us about what kind of sales to expect from our partners, but in a young high growth company a short history is not the way to predict the future. We are looking to double and triple our revenue, but many of our partners can’t growing that fast. This can intensify the sales channel black hole.

So, how can a vendor / supplier get more visibility and certainty into their entire sales pipeline? I can tell you that giving them a better deal registration tool is usually not the answer.

It begins with changing the perception your partners have of their relationship with you. The conversation needs to move from “When will you close the deal?” to “How can I help you manage the momentum or your sales pipeline?” If you know where your partners are in their sales cycle, then you can provide them with the right materials at that juncture. Depending on the prospect’s stage, the right information may be relevant case studies, pertinent references or applicable discounts.

What I’ve seen is that those companies that have a collaborative and helpful relationship with their partners have a higher conversion rate.

The very first step in this shift is to have conversations with your partners, and just listen. Do several of them say similar things about why and how they would do more business with you?

Sometimes it’s the vendor’s / suppliers’ business practices that are partner unfriendly. They are set up to force fit the partner into the way the vendor does business, but that doesn’t jibe with the partner, and they pull away from promoting your products. So, take a step back to consider how easy you are to do business with for your partners and if that is standing in your way of increased channel sales.

Secondly, I’ve seen companies that put sales service level agreements in place with their partners that they will not ask about deals beyond the current quarter, to keep the conversation focused.

I’m proud to be chairman of Relayware, which provides many great channel partner collaboration tools. A couple of examples include our partner locator tools, which allow partners to find one another to work together on deals. Also, you can use the activity stream and discussion groups to create engaging conversations with and among your partners.

In summary, engage with your partners to enable you both to increase clarity and lift sales.

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