Earlier this year my colleagues and I met with a number of Channels Sales VP’s. We believe channel sales to be a major opportunity area for WittyParrot and we were keen to interview leaders as we at sought to understand some of their problems.
 
The executives interviewed were a mix of B2B hardware and software vendors and are market leaders or are fast becoming leaders and they share remarkably similar problems.

Every channels VP we interviewed had an objective to enable the channel to sell more.  The number one problem in all of our interviews was that the channel is comfortable selling to established demand but unable to open new accounts.

This aligns with my own experience in B2B channel sales where I observed very few channel salespeople capable of creating new footprints for OEM products.

Major Concerns

The top complaints and major problems we encountered are as follows:–

  • Channel sales reps unable to cross sell new products into existing customers
  • Channel marketing ineffective in driving awareness in the marketplace
  • Channel sales reps poor at qualifying and following up leads
  • Channel sales managers complain of very long ramp time to achieving competence in channels reps
  • Channel revenue in the first two years was 50% of expectation
  • Channel sales reps ineffective in conveying the value proposition.
  • Ad-hoc delivery of localized collateral and sales support material.
  • Despite rolling out a channel portal and enablement program, channel salespeople would not use it.
  • Despite creating a ton of useful content and training the channel sales managers, the #1 complaint from reps was, “I can’t find what I need, when I need it”

Implications 

Implications of the above problems for channel sales leaders are well known.

  • Long sales ramp time for channel reps
  • Failure to attain revenue goals
  • High cost of sales and poor ROI on training investments
  • Transactional fulfillment versus winning new business
  • Lost momentum for early-stage companies difficult to recapture
  • High turnover in channel sales management
  • High turnover in the channel

 
When we asked the same channel managers what they were doing to overcome these problems we got a similar set of answers, most people are working on the same thing.
* We have implemented a sales portal and are providing access to channels
* We run quarterly training sessions in the region with localized language support
* We are generating leads and passing them to partners
* We are looking at new technologies including iPads to help channel sales people become more productive.
* We have rolled out SalesForce to our channel and are loading content into it so its all in one place.

Summary

Enabling the channel to sell more in their fist year can dramatically affect revenue and profit in the following three years. Providing access to the sales portal is not enough as channel sales teams probably have similar brands in their portfolio that they are comfortable with and already selling. To get channel salespeople selling your product, companies need to move beyond simple sales enablement and portal access.

Conclusion

One of the prime motivators for the founding of WittyParrot and development of the technology was an observation that salespeople took way too long to respond to customer inquiries. Further, asking the same question of 5 salespeople would produce 5 different answers.

If salespeople did not know the answer to an inbound customer inquiry or if the opportunity presented in the new lead looked too small, sales people would pass it over as the inertia to overcome internal impedance to getting answers was too great.

  • WittyParrot helps channel sales leaders to clone best practices of their top performing salespeople and to deliver the current best presentation, collateral, email and telephone solicitations and email responses in a collaborative easy to use desktop or iPad tool that channel salespeople will love. (Watch short video)
  • Presenting channel salespeople with a desktop widget that is always-on and is searchable to produce sales-ready information and answers to questions will enable salespeople to deliver insight and become more responsive. No longer will they have to ask marketing for answers to questions they should know, or waste time negotiation the Intranet to find it on the sales portal
  • WittyParrot contains a dashboard that allows channels sales enablement and channel sales professionals to rank content effectiveness and quickly identify what’s working and what’s not and to track most used and shared content over time, i.e. utilization frequency, time saved, storage used, top users.
  • WittyParrot supports the deployment of localized messaging content within the WittyParrot Dashboard and Widget. This means that Internationalized content can be instantly distributed and localized within the WittyParrot tool to increase marketing effectiveness, reduce ramp time in channel sales in foreign languages and lowering cost of collateral distribution and localization.

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