You want to inspire, engage, and enable your channel partners to deliver the utmost value and help them convert as many leads as possible—but doing so effectively requires channel leaders to identify pain points, eliminate friction, and create a seamless end-to-end experience across all moving parts, processes, and players.
Learn more about what causes channel partnership friction and how to eliminate it throughout the entire sales process.
What Causes Friction During the Partner Sales Process?
Before we dive into the different ways to eliminate channel partnership friction, it’s important to understand what causes such challenges. Misalignment is the driving force behind friction across the sales process—especially in the digital age.
Digitally connected buyers approach things differently, have different requirements, and demand more sophistication from partners. What once worked well simply doesn’t cut it today, which adds a whole new level of complexity for channel partners. However, despite the profound impact of digital transformation on channel sales, only 12 percent of partner organizations have modified their sales process to align with the digital buyer.
And therein lies the friction. Friction most often occurs when channel partners fail to recognize or understand the different stages of the new, digital buyer’s journey. When the modern buyer’s journey and partners’ sales process are completely misaligned, channel sales and revenue are the first to suffer.
Some channel partners—especially those who are not marketers by trade—lack understanding of the buyer’s journey and which stage prospects are in. Many partner sales teams struggle to recognize demand type as well as various inflection points (think milestones) between the different stages of the buyer’s journey.
In fact, 72 percent of channel partners said the biggest obstacle they face is an inability to connect offerings to buyer needs and challenges. This misalignment can significantly impede channel success, leading to missed sales, stalled revenue growth, and damaged channel partner relationships.
4 Ways to Eliminate Channel Partnership Friction
What steps can you take to eliminate channel partnership friction across the entire sales process? Here are a few ways to reduce friction and enhance sales team enablement:
1. Ensure alignment among key players.
Creating frictionless partnerships requires complete alignment among all key players. That means ensuring everyone is on the same page, from the vendor and sales prospect to the channel partner’s sales, marketing, and customer success teams. Research shows that alignment between sales and marketing teams alone can make companies 67 percent more effective at closing sales and decrease friction by as much as 108 percent.
You can ensure alignment between the buyer's journey and partner sales process by aligning business objectives so all stakeholders are working toward achieving the same goals. If you’re unsure of what your friction points even are, data is your friend. Data can help to identify friction points and significantly improve alignment initiatives by helping you craft a strategy that addresses your specific pain points.
Sound complex? 360insights supports this process by mapping out each channel partner types’ sales process and overlaying it with the buyer’s journey. From there, we harness real-time data points and predictive insights to help our customers improve business decision-making, performance, engagement, and, ultimately, partner team enablement.
2. Help educate channel partners.
Partner education plays a critical role when it comes to eliminating potential pain points. Take steps to educate your partners’ sales and marketing teams on the different stages of the buyer’s journey and how it applies to their prospects. Make sure they understand each of the different stages, demand types, and inflection points to ensure success.
You can eliminate friction across the entire sales process by educating your channel partners to help them better understand what buyers want and need. This way, they can connect offerings to each buyer’s unique goals and challenges rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach or trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. For example, you want to ensure channel partners don’t try to sell T-shirts to someone who really needs shoes or to someone who needs shoes but doesn’t realize it just yet.
You can also help support your channel partners’ marketing teams to reduce unnecessary friction. Start by identifying who’s responsible for marketing activities and making sure they know how to use marketing automation tools to build campaigns, convert more leads, and boost channel sales performance.
3. Drive partner engagement through incentives.
The great thing about incentives is that if used correctly they truly drive the right partner behaviors. Using incentives can help to ease up points of friction by inspiring channel partner sales and marketing teams to execute desired behaviors which include plenty of earning and redemption options at the individual and partner company levels
Incentives play a significant role in driving behavior modification using both intrinsic and extrinsic drivers and by aligning your channel partners’ sales and marketing efforts to your own buyer’s journey—not to mention ever-evolving market conditions. With that said, it’s important to align your channel incentives at the right stages throughout the partner lifecycle.
For example, you can offer incentives up front to encourage channel partners to complete desired training, certifications, or demand creation. You can also incent the lead management process around meetings, deal registration, and/or proofs of concepts. Or, you can incentivize the post sales process after a transaction is complete with rebates or rewards points for additional subscriptions and/or renewals. Additionally, you can fine-tune your efforts by applying benchmark incentive rates by sales cycle stage, so partners can begin stacking rewards and accelerating time to revenue.
4. Orchestrate channel ecosystems.
Last but certainly not least is ecosystem orchestration, or how all moving parts and players should collaborate to deliver value across the buyer’s journey and sales process. By orchestrating your partner ecosystem you can reduce friction and drive more predictable business performance by creating seamless, end-to-end channel experiences for your partners.
Because in many instances ecosystem partners derive value from their contribution to a deal, not a transaction; incentives become the driving force behind partner-to-partner collaboration and the secure exchange of data, taking the friction out of the entire process. This approach ultimately allows for more collaborative, engaging, and frictionless cross-ecosystem sales enablement, ensuring a seamless experience for everyone using the channel ecosystem.
Working in concert, Incentives Automation and Ecosystem Management platforms enable greater process automation within sales, marketing, service, and commerce. Incentives Automation becomes the fuel that reduces friction of every business process in Ecosystem Management. This immediate and lasting synergy drives predictable business performance like never before.
Orchestrated ecosystems centralize resources, eliminate silos, and unite all channel incentive initiatives and processes to create synergies and ensure key players are aligned.
How can you achieve ecosystem orchestration? Start by determining pain points, adapting your goals and go-to-market strategy, getting rid of siloed systems, and using modern, cloud-based incentive automation and ecosystem management solutions to automate programs with predetermined processes. As a result, you can minimize engagement frustration, improve partnership alignment, and maximize performance—all while eliminating friction.
Want to learn more about ecosystem orchestration and why it’s a must for channel leaders today? Download the Ecosystem Orchestration Has Landed and is Here to Stay e-book for a deeper dive into orchestrated ecosystems and the role they play in channel sales success today.