Many companies think that once they’ve selected resellers for their products their work is done and that it’s now the reseller’s job to go push the product out into the market. This is a serious error in thinking on the part of the companies that are really looking to accelerate their sales and maximize their market penetration. The best companies out there who are using resellers understand that building and maintaining effective distribution channels requires a serious commitment of resources from the company in order to make them successful and that third party channels and resellers can’t do the job on their own. In fact, most companies that are using third party distribution channels have a very active organization and system of services to support those resellers to make them effective.
If your company is using resellers and not gaining any market advantage or traction through them, the first thing you’ll want to look at is how much resources are you putting toward maintaining and building and supporting those third party channels. A lot of companies, when they hire resellers, they fail to put any resources against this effort. Those resources include having an actual channel manager, integrating those people with the sales force so that the company’s direct sales force is working with their channel partners or providing them with training or marketing materials or other sales tools that will help them to get their jobs. Most resellers in today’s day and age, sell where its easiest and selling where its easiest usually means that they’re selling for their manufacturers or their principals who are providing them with active lead generation and active sales support, as well as marketing programs and tools. So, if your company is trying to build an effective distribution channel using third party resellers, you’re going to have to rethink how much resources you’re spending in order to actively manage and support them.
Managing resellers is much like managing your own sales team. You have to be actively engaged and have people out in the field working with them in order to gain mind share from them against the other companies that they’re representing. To do that, you need to make sure that you’ve got the right sales people or channel business development people working for you, who are capable of partnering and working with these kinds of resellers in a partnership format. Not all sales people are capable of doing this.
Many sales people view resellers as potential competitors, but the ones who do understand how to partner with resellers can get a lot of leverage for your company by working very closely with the resellers and their territory. Often times, a company will want to have a vice president of business development or a director of business development or regional business development managers or segment business development people working to support their channel partners and whose only job it is, is to maximize the penetration of reseller channels. So these are just some ideas of what you can do in order to boost your channel performance by working more actively and more actively supporting your resellers. If your company needs to do an overhaul of your system integrators, OEMs, or resellers, there are plenty of companies out there that do channel development consulting and who can assist you in improving your channel performance.