Ramp Up Revenue Quickly With Partners
You’ve signed some new partners. The ink hasn’t dried yet when management starts asking “where’s the revenue?” You try to set expectations, but everyone wants revenue sooner. In most cases it takes longer to get the revenue engine started with partners. What you really need is that first “win” to launch and legitimize the relationship for both companies. So what can you do to accelerate the process?
Here are some options:
1. Get To The Partners’ Sales Team: Sure, working high in the organization is important but no matter what edict is handed down from the top, sales reps will engage only if they understand how to make money or they see their counterparts making money. The field is where it happens. The closer you work with the sales team the quicker you will get to the customer and see results. They know what is happening in the field and they know which customers and prospects are worth pursuing. Make sure you can clearly articulate how they will make money with your product/solution and don’t expect them to offer up potential opportunities without something in return — come with leads and accounts that they may be able to help you with. Be persistent and build trust.
2. Engage Your Direct Sales Team: Hopefully you have a compensation neutral plan that minimizes channel conflict. While that will help, it is critical that you work closely with your own sales reps to help them understand how partners can help them make money. Smart sales reps will quickly understand the value that partners provide in helping them cover more territory, identify opportunities they didn’t know about, and close more deals. Be successful with a few and use them to get the rest of the team in line.
3. Focus On The Low Hanging Fruit: You need a quick win to build momentum. By working directly with sales you will likely identify a few customers worth pursuing and when you do make sure you bring in the right resources to support and win the deal. This is a critical stage where you can prove your value to them – or demonstrate that you are just like the others. Look within your own pipeline and identify opportunities where they can help close the business based on the relationships they have. You may have to give up some margin but it is usually a good investment because that win can be used to create greater visibility with management and with the other sales reps. Success drives more success.
4. Launch Targeted Demand Generation: Demand generation events can help you accomplish multiple objectives but they need to be targeted and focused to drive near-term results and create interaction with customers. Workshops are more effective than seminars/webinars as long as you qualify customers first and make sure that you are delivering real value to them – not a marketing/sales pitch. Workshop type events give partners a good reason to engage with their customers, it gives you access to new accounts, partners get trained in the process, and you will likely walk away with a couple highly qualified opportunities. Use these to drive pilots that will plant the seeds for success.
5. Manage The Pipeline: Manage and track the pipeline of opportunities on a regular basis. This helps everyone stay focused on revenue and ensures accountability on both sides. Use these to get a better understanding of scope and timing but more importantly identify challenges, issues and critical next steps that need to occur to move these opportunities to closure.
With all new partnerships, the goal is to get the relationship out of the starting blocks as quickly as possible. Once that has happened , future sales will require less effort.
Contributing blogger Scott Dahlgren is an independent consultant helping small and mid-size technology companies extract greater value from their partner and channel relationships. And he also runs marathons through the woods of Connecticut. The VAR Guy is updated multiple times daily. Don’t miss a single post. Subscribe to his newsletter, RSS feed, Twitter feed and Resource Center.