All business owners grapple with how to optimize sales. That’s because regardless of your company’s age, its size, the products you offer, or the industry in which you operate, the volume and timing of sales are key to your success.
To ensure that success you monitor all sales-related processes, expenses, and results closely. At the same time, you’re always looking for ways to increase sales revenues while reducing, or holding steady, customer acquisition costs.
While there is no silver bullet for boosting sales, companies are increasingly tapping into a proven strategy to improve their sales results: channel sales, the use of people, processes, and organizations that go beyond your own efforts to sell directly to customers. According to the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals, roughly 40% of all revenues for the top 1,000 companies in North America are now achieved by leveraging channel sales partners.
For example, let’s consider Apple. In addition to selling its products directly to customers via its website and retail stores, Apple works with carriers such as Rogers (which owns PROFITguide) to bring its products to more customers and to do it rapidly. As a channel partner, Rogers helps Apple promote and distribute its products quickly and efficiently.
Throughout our new monthly series, “A Guide to Building Successful Channel Sales Programs,” we will outline practical steps to help business owners harness the power of channel sales programs. First, we will address the issues facing business owners acting in the role of a vendor – i.e. those who want to push their products and services ‘downstream’ through channel partners to customers. Second, we will tackle the challenges faced by channel partners that resell the products or services of a vendor. As the owner of a business, your channel sales program will only be successful if you understand the unique demands of both roles.
We bring insights from small- and medium-sized companies and across industries that have improved sales results by participating in channel sales programs. We will also share best practices from companies that have established themselves as world leaders in part because they have perfected their channel sales programs. Companies that will share strategic and tactical tips throughout the series include: ADP, Adobe, Bennett Gold, CDW, Commerx, Constant Contact, Envision, HP, Panvista Mobile, Prophix, Purolator, Rogers, SAP, Softchoice, Shopify, SmoothPay, and Vigorate.
Investing your time and energy in selecting, creating or managing a channel sales program is time you could be spending elsewhere. If you do want to go in this direction, let’s begin by determining whether channel sales could be a viable strategy to help you increase short- and long-term sales.
Small-, medium-, and large-sized companies that have committed to channel sales programs share some common traits. If your business faces four or more of the following challenges, a well-constructed channel sales program can help improve your sales:
• You have a wide variety of products and/or services that need to be sold in markets where you don’t have name recognition or market penetration
• You must increase sales volumes but don’t have sufficient resources to hire Sales professionals
• Customer acquisition costs are increasingly eroding your profitability
• The overhead costs of building and maintaining a high-performing sales team is greater than the cost of training sales people
• Your competitors are rapidly building their name recognition with potential customers
• Due to the complexity of your product or service, selling occurs over several weeks or months
• Your sales volumes are highly unpredictable and variable every month/quarter
• There are existing vendors and/or channel partners that have successfully built relationships with your potential customers
• Customer support costs for your products/services are eating away at your profitability
Whether you adopt the role of a vendor or of a channel partner (or both), increasing sales results through a channel sales program will transform your business. It is invigorating, inspiring, and can be highly cost-effective. You will achieve (and learn) more than you would have imagined. But at times, it will be hard work and the source of some frustration. It is no panacea—rather it is a disciplined approach that, when well-managed, will increase your sales.
Join us in this series and we will navigate you through the highs and lows of building and managing successful channel sales programs. We look forward to making sure that your foray into channel sales is worthwhile and rewarding.
Andrew Z. Brown has launched and promoted over 150 products and services, spanning 15 industries. He has established and managed successful channel/alliance programs internationally, co-produced Canada’s most successful business podcast, and written over 350 articles on the topics of marketing strategy, strategic alliances, product innovation, and C-Suite communications. His most recent book, “Business Truths” was one of the year’s fastest-selling business books.
For over 25 years, Phil Hogg has built successful channel programs, partnerships, and strategic alliances. He led such programs at top tier brands including Bell Canada, Rogers Communications and Moneris Solutions. He served as thePresident of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (Toronto Chapter) and is currently, General Manager, Merchant Services at Everlink Payment Services.
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Do you have a channel sales program? What sales challenges are you facing today? Let us know by commenting below.