Getting noticed and being relevant are both important in order to get onto the buyers long list, never mind the short list, and so having a decent marketing plan and a sales plan are critical for business sales success. Selling with partners (channels) is a key consideration for any vendor and should be considered as part of an overall go to market plan. There are many dissenters to the channel business model as this does involve sharing the “spoils” from the deal – although this is mainly from our financial friends, who perhaps have a different perspective to sales anyway. Channel sales at its best should be truly symbiotic – a true win/win engagement. Consider it like this – as a vendor, you need your offering to be visible to the ultimate end user – the customer, and in order to do this, you need to be in the “shop window” of their chosen supplier partner. Also consider the resources at the disposal of the vendor – sales resources are multiplied via a channel engagement model. This is a huge over simplification of the model, but I think helps with positioning why a channel model is so effective.
This is not always simple of course – a vendor requires, motivated, engaged, well trained and committed sales channels, and there are always competing offers in the market, so the relationships need maintaining and of course the commercial offers need to remain compelling and competitive. The wrap of services ensures that the channel partner is truly enabled to sell and support first line independently, and of course an escalation path should also be clearly defined especially if your proposition has a critical business affecting function. All of this needs to remain current and offers rarely remain static, so a decent process to ensure that the sales and support teams within the channel partner remain as well informed and prepared as the vendors own people is a must.
Partner/channel marketing should be considered as an integral part of a channel go to market strategy and a well integrated proposition enables the sales channels to maximise effectiveness.
Channel partners also have a significant opportunity to bundle services and solutions which can add value above the value of your offering “alone”.