The Case for the Channel
OK folks – this topic can be fairly divisive for some, though that is absolutely not my intent in writing it. The point of this article is to highlight, in my opinion, a glaring mistake that many sales reps that I have worked with over the years make on a regular basis.
Disclaimer: I cannot stress enough that this is not the opinion of my past, current, or future employers. It does not have papal blessing. It has not been reviewed by “The Academy” (whoever they are). This will also not likely be Tweeted by our President (though that would be pretty funny). Finally, I was not compensated, in anyway, by anyone to write this. If fact, it is possible that I become un-compensated (if that is a word) as a result of it. (kidding on that last point – maybe)
Enough disclaimers – let’s get into it.
- You sell something directly to customers
- Your organization has a channel program
- You do not lose any compensation by working with those in that program
- You are human and have the same number of hours in the day as the rest of us
- You are not actively leveraging that program to sell more “stuff”
- You are losing a LOT of money (pour a couple drinks in me and I might choose other words, but my editors advised me otherwise)
Put more simply:
If you are not leveraging your channel program, you are doing
yourself, and your employer, a huge disservice.
So, why Joe, would you say that? Isn’t that like “sales heresy”? I don’t need no stinkin’ partners to do my job. I can sell ice to Eskimos!
Here’s the typical “pushback” that I get when I suggest that reps should use business partners more often (not a complete list):
- I will lose control of the deal
- They don’t know what they are doing
- I will lose money
- It’s too hard
- Customers don’t want to work with partners
- Business partners just want leads from me – no value add
(There are more, but those are the most common objections)
Here’s the reality (my responses to those concerns):
- You are clearly a control freak
- Then use another partner
- Please see Assumption #3 in my Executive Summary
- Then you aren’t qualified to do your job
- Fake News
- Then use another partner
Please note that I never said, nor would ever say, that every partner is a perfect fit or that every deal needs a partner. That is very important to understand.
Yes, some partners suck – no question. But not all.
Yes, some deals need to be done directly for a variety of reasons. But not all, and I would argue that not even most. The majority of deals can, and probably should, be done with partners.
Why Joe? Why would you say so many crazy things?! Why do you hate me?!
No, I have not lost my mind – at least not yet.
The reality is that every rep I know:
- Has more customers/prospects than they have time to pursue
- Has the same amount of hours in the day as I do
- Wants to make more money
Given those points, the only way you can scale your business is to leverage someone else’s time. And unless you can get approval for additional headcount to hire a team under you (highly unlikely), the channel is your only choice.
And let me be clear here – you don’t have to like it, but unless you have an alternative to scale your business, you don’t have a choice. So embrace it – deal with it – accept it … whatever makes you feel better.
If you are smart about it, you would use the channel as your extended team. Remember – you don’t lose any commission, so if your partners are selling for you, that is basically free money.
And if you have one of the above silly complaints about partners, then find another one to work with. Yes, there are some partners that aren’t a fit or don’t provide the value you need. But any channel program that has any value provides many partners to pick from, and likely someone to help you make that decision.
If you are still reading this, and haven’t blocked me, reported me, or put a “hit” on me, then I am thankful for that and hopefully it makes a slight bit of sense.
What I would suggest is to treat your partners as your extended team – simple as that. Communicate with them – Strategize with them – Sell WITH them – Share Leads – Assign part of your territory to them. Any or all of that helps both parties!
And yes, this deal works both ways. If you are willing to work with them as an extended team, then you should also hold them accountable. Feel free to cadence them, require a status, set a quota, etc. That is a very reasonable expectation to have.
It’s really not hard overall. Yes, it takes some time to get a “system” in place. Yes, you may run into a partner or two that doesn’t quite work out. But in the long-run, you will have more opportunities in your pipeline and likely more deals close.
The only other thing I’ll add here is that if your employer does have a channel program and you are somehow penalized for using it, then they have a pretty messed up channels program.
My closing argument, Your Honor, is this:
If my assumptions stated in the beginning are true for your organization, then stop pretending that you are some sort of Superman Seller that can magically make more hours in your day. Get your “act” (not the word I would use in person) together and leverage the free resource that is being given to you – the magical business partner.
Now call your favorite business partner and go sell!