Your channel network isn't just an extension of your direct sales team, it can be a major differentiator. However, all too often partners don't receive the same level of support and ongoing development that benefit customers and direct sales teams. This is a missed opportunity, given that the channel is a primary source of revenue for technology vendors and, in some cases, generates more than direct sales.

So, how do companies design a continuous channel enablement program that achieves joint revenue goals?

The CSO Insights 2016 Channel Sales Optimization Study reports that 71.2% of firms that were effective at lead generation and coaching support achieved 76% more of their targeted channel revenue goal.

If rep engagement and coaching is the key to building a strong partner network, the pressure is on channel managers to deliver a robust channel program that builds mindshare and channel loyalty … before a competitor does.

What to look for in a channel enablement solution?

Any solution designed to differentiate your channel program from the competition must align with the way your audience thinks and works. For channel reps, it must be simple, engaging and convenient without disrupting selling time. For channel sales management, it must be cost-efficient at scale and offer insights into the ability of every rep to prioritize your products and close deals. Master these three strategies and you will be well on your way to building a winning channel strategy:

1. Ensure channel productivity

Ensure channel sales teams are armed with the know-how to position your products. No matter where channel partners are located, deliver the same sales/product information so they are in synch and on-message.

2. Measure sales proficiency

Track which channel reps are mastering your message and deliver targeted coaching to those who need a hand.

3. Gain mindshare

Differentiate channel programs in new ways by developing competencies and business value around your solutions to drive opportunities and improve close rates.

Build partnerships for the long haul

Since a strong partner network can be a significant competitive advantage, it is critical to find new ways to shore up channel loyalty and build a productive partnership for the long haul. No matter where channel partners are located, reinforce consistent sales messaging and information. Ensure that every reseller, distributor or software vendor is speaking the same language about your product to their customers and prospects.

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