Channel Checklist for Vendor Channel/Partner Managers
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Channel Checklist for Vendor Channel/Partner Managers

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Channel Checklist for Vendor Channel/Partner Managers Channel Checklist for Vendor Channel/Partner Managers Document Transcript

  • Layton Harwell- Channel Checklist<br />Index<br />
    • Channel Consulting
    • Correct Partner Selection and Recruitment
    • Channel Optimization
    • Channel Strategy
    • Market Research
    • Sales Data Analysis
    • Channel Program Development
    • Effective Channel Training Programs
    • Channel Manager Skills
    • Product Management
    • Identify, Recruit, and Manage
    • Issues, Drivers, and Strategies
    • Successful Channel Messaging
    • Successful Partner Selling Techniques
    • Selling in Uncertain Times
    • Solution Selling
    • Value Proposition
    • Business Negotiation
    • Tools
    • The Ideal Vendor Check List
    • The Elevator Pitch
    • Channel Performance Model
    • Channel trust Questionnaire
    Channel Consulting<br />Tailoring Channel Programs is a must in order to achieve partners/vendors long-term strategic objectives, and/or addressing short-term tactical issues. A variety of different channel methodology must be applied to each specific channel situation on an ongoing basis in order to continually improve or monitor channel performance. You must be able to identify optimal partnering strategies, recruit the right partners, create effective channel programs as well as develop insightful performance management systems.<br />Objectives:<br />Identify best-of-breed Channel Program models-recommendations regarding design and management of the vendor's program<br />Conduct Channel Survey to identify strengths and weaknesses in the vendor's go-to-market strategy, uncover competitive positioning, and provide recommendations on how best to address the pain points<br />Sales Analysis- review distributor’s point of sales reports and provide reports that highlight areas of concern that had gone unnoticed.<br />Develop a Partner Selection and performance measurement model to aid the partner recruitment & management process<br />Facilitate a Strategic Planning meeting that enables the distributor to assess their Strengths/Weaknesses in an objective manner, and helped them to identify key Opportunities and address potential Threats<br />Review the vendor's alliance strategy, and help them engage with partner vendors to create a unique and compelling product offering<br />Provide Sales Training (basic and advanced) for channel managers to improve their engagement with and influence over key partners.<br />
    • Correct Partner Selection and Recruitment
    Correct Partner Selection and Recruitment is crucial to achieving maximum coverage with minimum conflict. You must be able to identify and recruit the right partners to grow your revenue. Depending on who you talk to, there are between 6,000 and 9,000 partners in the US. These can range between one-man companies operating from a home office, up to large multi-location Systems Integrators employing 10’s of 1,000’s of people. Most organizations will spend a significant amount of time selecting and recruiting sales staff, typically adopting an ad-hoc approach to selecting and recruiting sales partners when they ought to focusing on selecting their external sales partners as much they do, in selecting their internal sales staff.<br />So how do you select the right partners? Use this methodology to help you identify partners that:<br />Have the skill sets that you desire<br />Service your customer target market<br />By using a range of selection and profiling tools, this process can ensure consistency of partner selection and recruitment. This is a 5 Step process:<br />Develop Selection Criteria (based on skill set, customer base and product offering)<br />Research resellers and qualify against Selection Criteria<br />Eliminate non-complying partners, and create short list<br />Determine contact details for resellers<br />Compile into final report, including assessment of potential success<br />The outcome will be less time and money wasted on recruiting partners!!!!<br />Channel Optimization<br />When it comes to channels, more is not always better. You must be able to analyze the market demand and define the ideal depth & breadth of partners to achieve your desired outcome. This model will help you systematically assess your existing, or prospect sales channels across four key attributes:<br />The outcome of this analysis will help you determine which partners are really performing, and which partners are simply diluting your marketing effort, and eroding pricing and margins. A more complete version of this model may be found under the Tools section. =====================================================================<br />Channel Strategy<br />When the channel strategy kicks into gear, the breadth of opportunities often means that the challenge is not what to do, but rather, what not to do.<br />When planning a team meeting, or taking the group off-site to discuss the important issues, you must create a structured, facilitated approach that can help you achieve a better outcome. You must be able to clarify and refine your thought process in order to achieve your desired results. Facilitating your strategic planning meeting, researching your customers' reactions to new initiatives, or simply acting as a sounding board for new ideas will help you stay on track, and get the results you are after. <br />Knowledge of vendors, distributors and resellers enables you to give a broad industry perspective and assist in working towards best-practice. You must be able to clarify your corporate strategy, assess your competitive position, identify and overcome barriers, determine priorities, make key decisions, and establish action plans.<br />Market Research<br />A high performing channel program requires a consistent communications message, and an effective knowledge transfer process. But surprisingly, a substantial amount of money is wasted each year on ineffective partner sales and marketing programs<br />Through channel research and audits, you can identify the effectiveness of your channel programs, and determine what to do to gain the commitment and loyalty of your channel partners.<br />Through understanding of the channel, you will be able to provide an insightful analysis of the results, which makes it easier to engage a channel partner on the phone for longer, and ask in-depth questions that provide you with the answers you need.<br />By benchmarking your organization against best practices, you can create efficiencies that improve the performance and profitability of your programs, and improve your program sales/expense ratio.<br />When designing a Partner Agreement, you need to develop metrics for assessing the individual performance of a specific partner, or the channel as a whole.<br />Sales Data Analysis<br />As the economy slows down, it becomes crucial that vendors and distributors understand how to effectively mine their data base.<br />However, there are two main hurdles to this:<br />
    • Sales data analysis requires a combination of operational skills (i.e. data and statistical analysis) and sales skills (i.e. the interpretation of the data from a customer and product perspective). It is rare to find these skills in one person (i.e. salespeople understand the data but are either not interested or not skilled in mining it, and finance people can cut the data any way you want, but aren’t necessarily good at interpreting it).
    • The data is often contained in different disparate data bases, in different locations, in different formats. (eg. distributor POS reports, Marketing data bases, Support databases, Event participant lists, etc).
    The complexity and time-consuming nature of consolidating the data and analyzing it means that it often doesn’t get done. And that means you may not be getting the most from your existing customers. This is why it is crucial that vendors analyze distributor sell though or POS reports and identify reseller or product opportunities that may have gone unnoticed. You must continue to analyze your sales data and identify your areas of strength, weakness, opportunity and threat. Categorize your resellers by growth and more importantly identify the ones that have dropped off. Keep track of the customers that attended your last seminar and which ones are buying from you or not. This is the data you need to collect to get more business from existing customers and protect you from competitors stealing them.<br />Channel Program Development <br />Channel Programs need to be specifically tailored around your partners and products. Whether it's a new channel partner program, or an update to an existing channel program, you need insight into best-practice methodologies to make sure your programs achieve the results you want.<br />Some example projects include: <br />Creating a new channel program for a vendor, creating a new component (deal registration) to fit into an existing channel program, developing a Vendor Marketing Program for a distributor that did not have one to offer vendors for use of MDF/VIR spend, and a strategy for the vendor to manage the MDF spend among different IT/Consumer/AV Distributors based on their/our go to market strategy.<br />Effective Channel Training Programs<br />An effective channel program or strategy requires sales and marketing people to be equipped with the right skills to consistently execute on that strategy. Training programs help people achieve better sales results and better educate the vendor sales staff and/or the staff of the partners.<br />Central to all Channel training programs is a 3S philosophy - Structure, Style & Substance<br />Structure<br />Whether you are presenting a new product, or implementing a new program, Structure is about creating a logical and commonsense foundation that guides your partners towards helping you achieve your objective. <br />Style<br />The key to any client engagement is the ability to build rapport, engage your listeners, and get buy-in. You must focus on helping participants access a range of Styles that they can utilize to deal with different partners, or with difficult situations.<br />Substance<br />Substance is about the content, and making sure your message is both persuasive and compelling. You need to customize all programs to make them very specific and relevant to your particular organization. All Channel programs should be completely tailored around your clients, their products, their competitors, their language, and their market position. <br />Channel Manager Skills<br />Channel Managers are responsible for selling to, and through partners. The skills for selling to a partner are very different from the skills necessary for selling to the end-user. That's because partners don't buy products; they sell them. Consequently, the sales language is different, the business drivers are different, the technical knowledge is different, and the engagement model is different. So the effective Channel Manager needs to be able to assist partners to close deals rather than just buy more stock. Unlike influencing end-users to buy products, the emphasis here is on motivating partners to want to sell the vendors products. Channel Managers have to develop strong relationships with Partners, engage Senior Management and Marketing, uncover new opportunities, and present value proposition to partners in a persuasive and compelling manner. They need to be able to influence partners to want to work with them and help the partners position their product to the end user and close business. They need to be able to with challenging partners in competitive markets. <br />Objectives:<br />Identify what makes partners want to sell certain vendor's products<br />Build rapport with senior channel management<br />Ask the right questions to uncover your partner's drivers and motivators<br />Utilize the Principles of Persuasion to influence your audience<br />Present your product and company in a persuasive & compelling manner<br />Apply the principles to influence partner selling behavior <br />Outline:<br />Key elements of influencing partners, and making persuasive statements <br />Understanding why partners sell certain products<br />Rapport building with senior management<br />Identifying sales opportunities by uncovering business needs<br />Solution selling and advanced consultative questioning techniques<br />Understanding the Principles of Persuasion<br />Influencing partner sales behavior and end-user purchasing decisions<br />Communicating with executive-level buyers with confidence and credibility<br />Articulating your value proposition in a persuasive & compelling manner<br />Marketing and Management Responsibilities<br />Not only are Channel Managers responsible for the partners development, programs and successes, Channel Marketing and Management are also responsible. When dealing with the Partners, all parties need to be on the same page. It is important that Management and Marketing understand that the skills necessary for engaging with and getting the most out of partners are very different from the skills necessary for direct sales people. The language is different, the business drivers are different, the technical knowledge is different, and the engagement model is different. <br />Channel Managers along with their Management and Marketing Team, must be able to develop the right channel model, recruit the right partners, put in place programs that work, and help partners to grow. And when it becomes clear that your channel is not working effectively, channel managers, management and marketing, must be able to conduct effective performance reviews with partners, and terminate non-performing partners when there is no synergy with your organization.<br />All Channel Programs are completely tailored around your products, your competitors, your language, your market position, you understanding the problems you and your partners face, and your knowledge of the industry. <br />Identify, Recruit and Manage<br />Resellers today want more from their Channel Managers than someone who can provide T-shirts, hats and " Beer & Pizza" on a Friday night. Now the Channel Manager must be able to identifying, recruit and manage channel partners. <br />Objectives<br />Use a set of tools, language and methodologies to engage with partners<br />Design a best-practice channel structure to achieve your sales objectives<br />Identify and avoid common channel recruitment & development problems<br />Build long-term relationships with channel partners that generate results<br />Understand and manage channel conflict<br />Outline<br />The role of the channel (what makes partners tick)<br />Managing differing partner relationship types (depth vs breadth)<br />Partner acquisition strategy (defining the no. & type of required partners)<br />Partner profiling and selection (recruiting the right partners)<br />Influencing partner behavior (getting partners to adopt your vision)<br />Key elements of successful vendor programs<br />Partner Development (creating action plans; conducting effective reviews)<br />Issues, Drivers, and Strategies<br />In order for channel excellence, Channel Managers need to understand partner business issues & drivers, and be able to develop strategies for improving channel performance through better channel design and engagement. This will help in building stronger business relationships with senior partner executives and gain greater commitment.<br />Objectives<br />Design a best-practice channel structure to achieve your sales objectives<br />Identify and avoid common channel recruitment & development problems<br />Engage with channel partners at a business level<br />Develop programs that gain commitment and minimize channel conflict<br />Build long-term relationships with channel partners that generate results<br />Create effective value propositions, programs & performance metrics<br />Outline<br />The role of the channel (what makes partners tick)<br />How channels change over time<br />Partner financial & business drivers (gaining partner focus & loyalty)<br />Managing differing partner relationship types (depth vs breadth)<br />Partner acquisition strategy (defining the no. & type of required partners)<br />Partner profiling and selection (recruiting the right partners)<br />Assessing channel/territory performance (account planning/development)<br />Influencing partner behavior (getting partners to adopt your vision)<br />Creating different persuasive value propositions for different partners<br />Knowledge transfer process (accelerating partner sales readiness)<br />Key elements of successful partner programs<br />Partner Development (creating action plans; conducting effective reviews)<br />Finance<br />Channel Managers need to understand the principles of finance and to apply this knowledge in their engagement with partner senior management. They must have a basic understanding of the financial workings and motivators of partners, how this influences business decisions, and how to apply this in building business relationships with partners. Channel Managers and Marketing both need to interact with senior decision makers and finance professionals in order to build business-to-business relationships and sell complex solutions.<br />Objectives<br />Interpret a company's financial position & understand its business drivers<br />Utilize financial language to assist the sales and partnering processes<br />Communicate with finance professionals in their own language<br />Engage senior decision makers in a business level conversation<br />Position your company/product as a solution to a business problem<br />Outline<br />What is money and how does money move in a business (Cash flow) <br />The importance of finance and accounting in business <br />The key features in financial management <br />Understanding and interpreting financial statements <br />What is working capital and how does it influence business decisions <br />The strength of budgets and your impact on the success of the enterprise <br />Financial drivers and tailoring your message or proposition <br />Executive Conversations<br />Securing senior management support within partners enables channel sales people to establish credibility and gain commitment from partners. Channel sales people must be able to present a business-based value proposition to executive-level management and be able to build strong and successful channel relationships.<br />Objectives<br />Use language that will engage partner executives<br />Establish credibility and build rapport with senior executives<br />Identify critical business success factors for partner executives<br />Deliver a compelling value proposition for partner executives<br />Feel more confident and comfortable with senior partner management <br />Outline<br />Drivers and motivators of executive-level decision makers<br />Basic principles of finance and accounting in business<br />Understanding the language of executive management<br />Rapport building with senior management<br />Adopting a consultative sales approach<br />Identifying critical business success factors & developing customer insight<br />Understanding the key elements of influencing executive decision making<br />Outlining a sales strategy that's tied to your customer's business objective<br />Developing business-based proposals<br />Presenting your value proposition in a persuasive and compelling manner<br />Communicating with executive-level buyers with confidence and credibility<br />Channel Presentations <br />Channel Sales Professionals must be able to present new products and strategies to partners in a wide range of situations (eg. a formal PowerPoint presentation to an auditorium full of reseller sales staff, or a relaxed meeting with a key decision-maker over a coffee). The presentations must influence partner behavior and gain partner mindshare. <br />Objectives<br />Capture and maintain your audience's attention<br />Make presentations more interesting and entertaining<br />Deliver a persuasive message that partners find compelling<br />Adapt your message for different situations<br />Feel more confident and comfortable in front of an audience<br />Outline<br />Creating a persuasive sales presentation structure<br />Articulating your company’s (or product's) USP in a compelling manner<br />Tailoring your message for different partners and situations<br />Capturing your partners' attention and keeping the audience interested<br />Using verbal and non-verbal language to connect with your audience<br />Moving with poise and projecting a confident demeanor<br />Knowing how and when to use (and not use) PowerPoint effectively<br />Adjusting your style for different channel partners <br />Successful sales presenting one-on-one, or in large groups<br />Successful Channel Messaging<br />The market is constantly changing. New products are being released, competitors are becoming more aggressive, and partners are becoming more selective about which vendors they do business with. Channel Messaging must be a clear, concise and compelling message for partners that manages to cuts through the clutter, captures partner mindshare, creates excitement, and be consistently delivered by staff and partners. They must be able to deliver a consistent message, which needs to be tailored for different audiences (eg. a CEO vs. an IT Manager, or an Enterprise vs. a SMB).<br />Objectives<br />Create a hard-hitting & compelling " elevator pitch" for partner executives<br />Articulate your company's value proposition in a persuasive manner<br />Adapt your message for different partners, customers and environments<br />Deliver the message with or without PowerPoint<br />Outline<br />Identifying and/or clarifying your unique sales message<br />Review of persuasive sales presentation structure<br />Developing a strong value proposition around your company and products<br />Tailoring your message for different partners and situations<br />Articulating your company's (or product's) USP in a compelling manner<br />Capturing your partners' attention and mindshare<br />Successful Partner Selling Techniques<br />The barrage of new products coming into the market makes it impossible for all but the most dedicated partners to digest the volume of information being thrown at them, which means, other than Tier 1 partners, the channel is probably only grasping a fraction of the information necessary to sell your products. While many vendors have tried to address this through product training programs, the majority of programs in the market focus on the capabilities of the product, rather than how to position or sell it. Channel Managers must be able to tell partners what probing questions they should be asking to uncover new opportunities, qualify customers quickly, address competitive issues, and position the product in the most favorable light.<br />Channel Managers must combine product training with " consultative selling" (eg. Influencing, Presenting, or Negotiating skills) when training resellers how to sell products, rather than just learning about the features. The trainings need to be tailored around your products, your competitors, your language, and your market position. The channel sales must be able relate to the road blocks that the partners face in their day to day business.<br />Selling in Uncertain Times<br />As the economy slows down, IT Budgets are reduced, credit becomes harder to access, customers are more risk-averse, and selling gets tougher. Channel Managers must be able to educate the partners on how to sell your products in a tough economic climate. They must be able to help the partners adapt their sales style in order to uncover opportunities, close business when the going gets tough, and find new ways to sell to customers who are trying to cut costs.<br />Objectives:<br />Understand the competitive positioning of your products<br />Uncover customer needs that lead to a compelling business justification<br />Build rapport with multiple levels within the customer<br />Apply the Principles of Persuasion to influence end-user buying behavior<br />Reposition your company and products to address a tougher audience<br />Outline:<br />Building relationships with different stakeholders within the customer<br />Identifying sales opportunities by uncovering hidden business needs<br />Utilizing creative financing strategies to overcome objections<br />Presenting genuine Benefits, rather than Advantages<br />Leveraging the Principles of Persuasion to influence customer behavior<br />Accelerating the decision-making process by helping customers recognize the consequences of their pain points<br />Articulating your value proposition to address specific business needs <br />Creating simpler sales proposals that focus on ROI<br /> Solution Selling<br />Solution Selling is educating the partners on how to sell your products to their customers. Channel Managers must be able to help partners uncover sales opportunities, qualify accounts, present product in a compelling manner, and influence customer buying behavior towards the product. Channel managers must use solution selling when managing partners who sell a broad range of solutions, of which only one component is theirs.<br />Objectives<br />Identify the unique value proposition of your company & products<br />Ask the right questions to uncover customer needs for your products<br />Use advanced rapport-building techniques to engage the end-user<br />Present your company and products in a persuasive & compelling manner<br />Apply the Principles of Persuasion to influence end-user buying behavior<br />Outline<br />Key elements of influencing end-users, and making persuasive statements <br />Identifying sales opportunities by uncovering business needs<br />Build Rapport with senior management & articulate value propositions in compelling manors<br />Use Solution selling and advanced consultative questioning techniques<br />Understand the Principles of Persuasion and how customers buy<br />Clarifying customer needs and influencing end-user purchasing decisions<br />Communicating with executive-level buyers with confidence and credibility<br />Value Positioning<br />Value Positioning= Channel sales must educate the partners on how to position a unique value proposition to the end-user, based around your products and their services. Value Propositions help partners to articulate a clear, concise and compelling message to their customers, founded on the benefits of your products and the value-add of their own organization.<br />A partner who sells a broad range of solutions, of which one is yours, must be able to give a Value Proposition in order to be successful selling that solution.<br />Objectives<br />Deliver a hard-hitting and compelling " elevator pitch" for end-users<br />Articulate your/their combined value proposition in a persuasive manner<br />Adapt the message for different users and market segments<br />Deliver the message with or without PowerPoint<br />Outline<br />Developing a strong value proposition for your products & their company<br />Creating a unique (combined) sales message <br />Tailoring the message for different end-users and situations<br />Review of persuasive sales presentation structure<br />Articulating the company's (or product's) USP in a compelling manner<br />Capturing the end-user's attention and mindshare<br />Knowing how and when to use (and not use) PowerPoint effectively<br />Business Negotiation<br />Many sales people agree to less than ideal terms because they are not sure how to negotiate. Sales executives, sales managers and teams must be able to negotiate differently dependent on situation/customer, while also developing long term relationships with customers.<br />Objectives:<br />Negotiate Win/Win outcomes with customers and business partners<br />Protect the price and revenue base<br />Identify and build position models around key issues<br />Negotiate in a hierarchy of concessions<br />Adopt a greater range of strategic approaches to suit the situation<br />Outline<br />Setting negotiation goals and building power through alternative outcomes <br />Reading the other party's strategy and adjusting your style accordingly<br />Negotiation approaches - appeasing, collaborative and/or competitive<br />Protecting and building your price and revenue base <br />Framing offers in a way that is most likely to get accepted <br />Dealing with tough negotiators <br />Tools<br />We often hear channel managers talk about the effectiveness of their channel, but usually using language based on gut feel or relationships, rather than measurable indicators. The following list of tools has been made available to help you monitor some of the most common aspects of channel management. I have these in hard copy form. <br />The IDEAL Vendor Check List<br />Do your channel partners think of you as an IDEAL vendor? What can you do to stand out? This handy check list summarizes the questions that resellers want answered before they will commit to your company or products.<br />The Elevator Pitch <br />If your customer can't articulate what makes you different, then they will have difficulty understanding why they should deal with you. This document is designed to help you capture the essence of what your company does, and clearly convey it in a concise manner.<br /> Channel Performance model<br />What makes some Channels work more effectively than others? This useful model helps you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your channel strategy.<br />Channel Trust Questionnaire<br />Vendors are forever profiling and segmenting their partners by size, profitability or region. This questionnaire is designed to look beyond the numbers to one of the key drivers of sales performance - your partners' level of trust.<br />