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7 Key Technology Components to Support a High Growth Indirect Channel

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“Oh, all I need is a reseller portal, deal registration, training and certification tools, and a connection to my CRM – and I am good to go for my channel.” Wouldn’t it be great if it were that simple? Channel technology has historically had one of the highest rates of becoming “shelf ware” within any software category because of ill-conceived technology strategies to support the growth of indirect business. There are many factors to consider when building your technology blueprint to support your indirect channel success. Many companies with indirect channels, including large global corporations, use a combination of sophisticated technology tools along with manual processes, spreadsheets, and “sneakerware” to manage their reseller support processes. For most companies, channel technology is a work-in-progress with many improvement opportunity areas. Any successful indirect channel strategy must account for all seven of the following components to build a scalable, efficient, and effective reseller support system.

7 Success Technology Components for Supporting a High Growth Indirect Channel:
1) Recruiting / Onboarding (Reseller Portal)
The first two questions for any candidate reseller are “how can I become successful with this brand?” and “how will I make money with this brand?” A well designed partner portal provides a range of recruiting, partner value proposition, and supporting resources to candidate resellers. It will also provide an online intuitive workflow process to help potential resellers apply for approval into the company’s channel ecosystem.
2) Training / Certification / Access to Company Resources (Reseller Portal)
Well-designed portals provide topic-driven resource center navigation to allow for easy reseller access to product, service, selling, marketing, market, competitive, and pricing information. It provides resellers with access to online or in-person training and certification resources, courseware, and experts to help build a personalized professional development plan.
3) Funding Access, Management, Approval, and Allocation (MDF / Fund Admin Systems)
Resellers are looking for companies / brands that will support their demand generation and growth with easy-to-understand MDF / COOP funding programs that allocate monies based on performance. Because so many vendors use opaque and inconsistent programs, providing a well-managed and easy-to-access program with clear performance expectations is a big potential differentiator for indirect channel-focused companies.
4) Incentive Management, Administration, & Reporting (Incentive Mgmt. Systems)
Sales incentives are an integral part of any high performance indirect channel strategy to get a disproportionate share of reseller sales executive’s time. Reseller sales executives are looking for innovative, achievable, and simple incentive programs where they can easily visualize achievement of award levels and are rewarded in a timely basis.
5) Deal Registration, Opportunity Tracking, ROI Reporting and CRM Integration (Deal Reg. Systems)
The core of any indirect channel program is the ability of resellers to secure special pricing and register a deal to protect new opportunities. Deal registration that is coupled with ongoing sales opportunity (pipeline) tracking and is integrated into CRM systems (e.g., Salesforce.com) simplifies the process of performance management for the vendor and the reseller. The more turn-key these technology-enabled processes can be for the reseller, the more attractive the company will be to do business with.
6) Full Cycle Indirect Channel Revenue Reporting (POS / Distribution Revenue Tracking & Reporting Systems)
Selling in the indirect channel makes it extremely difficult to track revenue by end customer, given that most sales are executed and invoiced through third parties. POS and/or distributor-level revenue tracking and reporting by end customer fills this gap and allows both resellers and vendors to more effectively manage and report track-able revenue by product, service, and MDF program. It also significantly streamlines the administration of various incentive programs that are tied to product, customer or market sales.
7) Through-Reseller Demand Generation (List, Content Syndication, Campaign, Social, Event, and Nurture Tools)
Resellers are far from professional marketing organizations. They have poorly maintained marketing lists, outdated content and limited capabilities for marketing, campaigns, social media, management event and nurture marketing. They are looking for integrated (turn-key) services that will be executed for them, or will help them execute efficient marketing programs. Resellers are looking for marketing tools that deliver all of these components at affordable rates that fit within the modest channel reseller marketing budgets.

It may sound too good to be true, but there are channel technology solutions that offer most or all of these components integrated in one system. The key is starting with your top two to three priorities and adding new components on a regular basis to work toward a complete and highly sought after technology enabled channel program.

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