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:
- Touch base with territory sales person or manager to schedule two days of field calls.
- Identify which accounts they will be seeing and type of work those accounts focus on.
- Ask the question when is the last time this account has seen or heard about our products?
- How many units/projects/purchases a year does this firm make?
- What type of products do they use? If applicable, have they specified our products in the past?
- Does this company use other products that you carry or just our products?
- 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.
- Will the decision makers be joining us?
- Send a complete itinerary before my trip to ensure you are using my time wisely?
- Are we doing any social events after work that could lead to business?
- What is your (distributor sales person) relationship with these accounts?
- How much annual business do you do with these accounts we are seeing?
- Who are your top 10 customers by volume? Should we be meeting with them?
- Who and how should we follow up on opportunities generated from the trip?
- Send overview of the two day trip to appropriate sales manager.
- How many new accounts are we calling on that you have never met? What is the potential there?
- What sales tools do you currently have, and what do you need me to bring?
- What are the biggest objections or opportunities with this account we are seeing?
- Do you plan on showing any of your other products or will this be focused only on my products?
- What did we learn from this call? Did you hear the same things I did, what could we do better or differently?
- 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.
- Helping the distributor partner understand our product can help differentiate them from competition.
- 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!