Why do so many channel programs fail? Unfortunately, many companies base their channel strategies on what works for the direct sales force – only to discover after the fact that they need to retool their plans to reflect partner-specific needs. In order for a channel strategy to be successful, channel programs need to be thoughtfully designed with full consideration for the unique characteristics of the target partners. Channel programs can be expensive, but if done right, they can provide true extended reach to the market and forge new paths to revenue and help accelerate sales.
In this engagement, a Managed Services Provider was struggling to reach economic buyers and decision makers due to its own limited routes to market. FireOne was brought in to diversify the company’s routes to market, growing its limited channel of three partners to 20 global resellers, including System Integrators, strategic partners and alliances, and large Value-Added Resellers.
Below were the areas of focus to transform a direct selling-minded team to a Channel First organization with robust diversification in its sales strategy.
- Product alignment: We guided the product and development teams to define what market segments would be targeted by the partners. We helped them build and package channel-friendly solutions.
- Geo- and industry-specific partners: We worked closely with the CMO and CEO to define market segments to be targeted, agreeing to focus on EMEA and the Americas, then built the supporting partner strategy for each region. We created account plans to identify the right partners and concentrated efforts to onboard and invest in these partners to sell our solutions.
- Training and education: We worked closely with all the existing and new partners to show how our products stacked up against the competition and the team invested in showing how to demonstrate value, ROI and proof points on the solution being the best option for partners to sell.
- Hiring: We reduced the legacy direct selling reps by 33% and hired partner account managers with experience and ability to drive strong channel relationships and channel success.
- Deal Registration process: We established a formal engagement process and communication rhythm between our field organization and the partners for improved efficiency in opportunity development and close.
- Partner Business Planning meetings: Implemented meeting cadence for the field organization to regularly engage with partners, reviewing business plans, collaborating on joint sales motions and driving measurable goals for all partners.