Dave Kurlan's 23 Steps to Improved Channel Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 08, 2019 @ 14:05 PM

dave-video

When you purchase a car, do you consider yourself a customer of the dealer you bought or leased it from, the auto maker, or both?  

When you purchase a Sony flat screen TV from Best Buy, do you consider yourself a Best Buy customer, a Sony customer, or both?

When you purchase a Nespresso machine from Amazon, do you consider yourself an Amazon customer, a Nespresso customer, both, or neither?

Those questions are important to consider when we discuss channels and who is your customer.

I recorded a three-minute video because it is easier to explain this in a video than by typing a long article.

 

If you sell to and through a channel, and assuming you have the mindshare of the reps, here are my 23 conditions you should require prior to a ride-along in the territory:

Pre/Post trip assignment for reps who work with Distributor partners:

  1. Touch base with territory sales person or manager to schedule two days of field calls.
  2. Identify which accounts they will be seeing and type of work those accounts focus on.
  3. Ask the question when is the last time this account has seen or heard about our products?
  4. How many units/projects/purchases a year does this firm make?
  5. What type of products do they use? If applicable, have they specified our products in the past?
  6. Does this company use other products that you carry or just our products?
  7. Determine what the purpose of each presentation/sales call is. Example-lunch and learn, update, class, small group, large group or specific project/opportunity to discuss.
  8. Will the decision makers be joining us?
  9. Send a complete itinerary before my trip to ensure you are using my time wisely?
  10. Are we doing any social events after work that could lead to business?
  11. What is your (distributor sales person) relationship with these accounts?
  12. How much annual business do you do with these accounts we are seeing?
  13. Who are your top 10 customers by volume? Should we be meeting with them?
  14. Who and how should we follow up on opportunities generated from the trip?
  15. Send overview of the two day trip to appropriate sales manager.
  16. How many new accounts are we calling on that you have never met? What is the potential there?
  17. What sales tools do you currently have, and what do you need me to bring?
  18. What are the biggest objections or opportunities with this account we are seeing?
  19. Do you plan on showing any of your other products or will this be focused only on my products?
  20. What did we learn from this call? Did you hear the same things I did, what could we do better or differently? 
  21. Setting expectations, I’ll take the lead on a few calls and then I’ll watch you present. This way I can give feedback and help where needed.
  22. Helping the distributor partner understand our product can help differentiate them from competition.
  23. Explain that our Channel Partner reps rank their accounts A, B, or C. Ask rep if the accounts we will visit are A’s, B’s or C’s. Some accounts that are B’s and C’s for other products could be A's for our products.

The changes and improvements that will occur from requiring these conditions are dramatic but will take some time to bare fruit.  Think about every rep at every channel partner and how long it might take for them to accept, embrace, buy-in, and execute on some of these requirements.  Raise your expectations but give it some time!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, channel sales

The Crucial Channel Sales Strategy You Can't Get Wrong

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 @ 10:10 AM

Our business is different.
Our salespeople are really good. 
We have a sales process. 
We sell consultatively. 
We don't have a sales force - we sell through a channel.

Those statements represent the 5 most inaccurate things we hear every day from executives before they become clients.  I say they are inaccurate because each statement is invariably proven to be incorrect after we evaluate their sales force.  If we take the 5th statement, break it apart, and make it two statements, then I could make a case for each being a true statement, but not when taken as a single statement of fact.  They "sell through a channel" is very easy to agree with.  They "don't have a sales force" becomes easy to agree with because channel salespeople are quite often among the weakest salespeople we see anywhere!  But there is a larger, more important issue with the channel statement. Whether or not you currently employ channels as part of your goto market strategy, you must understand this one crucial strategy which, if you get it wrong, absolutely sabotages your results with a channel.

Executives tend to believe that there is a major difference between selling directly to their customers versus selling through their channels. In reality, what is it that is so different?  When selling directly to a customer we’re trying to persuade them to buy what we sell.  When selling through the channel we’re trying to persuade the channel reps to sell what we sell.  The commonality though, is that we are trying to persuade them to do something.  Whether it's buy what we sell or sell what we sell, the only real difference is where the money ends up coming from!

The answers to "why you should sell more of what we sell" and "why you should buy what we sell" are similar.  Their respective reasons for taking action may be different, but the overall sales approach is identical!

The problem is that most companies view their channel salespeople as channel managers despite the fact that the channel managers don't actually manage anybody or anything.  The title reinforces inappropriate beliefs, behaviors, activities, messaging, questions and outcomes.  How would things change if their titles changed from channel manager to salesperson in charge of getting reps to sell more of our stuff?

Let's not disguise what we expect our salespeople to accomplish. Providing them with superficial titles that make them feel important, but mask or change expectations, does a huge disservice to all.  Call them what you want them to be! 

I don't write about channel sales nearly as much as I should, especially where so many of our clients sell through channels.  If you want to read more on channel sales, you might enjoy this article about the 10 biggest problems with channel sales.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, selling tips, sales revenue, channel sales

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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