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For companies that rely on partners to sell their goods or services, it’s often easy to overlook the value of digital channels for communicating with those partners regarding sales, service, and marketing.

While many still rely on a great-looking online portal to do the job, it’s simply not the best option in today’s business landscape. Instead, give your partners the opportunity to collaborate with you to figure out how to provide a positive customer experience.

According to the Sales Management Association’s Enabling Indirect Sales Channels briefing, a staggering 49% of businesses say they don’t have the ability to collaborate on leads or cases through their partner portal. These companies are missing out on an effective way to provide consolidated, contextual feedback to move their business (and that of their channel partners) forward.

Top performing channel-sales organizations use their online portal to collaborate with their partners to achieve a seamless business relationship, including:

  • How to go-to-market together

  • Manage channel conflict

  • Provide timely feedback

With these points in mind, let’s drill into a few of the ways that personalized portals can move a channel partnership forward:

 

Companies need a solution-based sales experience

 

It’s important to think about how your company creates a solution-based sales experience, which requires optimizing your salespeople, processes, and data to ensure they guide the customer to the best possible product or solution to fit their needs. Here’s what that looks like at a few different levels:  

  1. Sales: It’s vital to have the right people involved in sales and support roles. They might be sales or service reps, but they are the frontline when it comes to helping partners solve problems — especially if the answer isn’t available in the portal.

  2. Process: You must have a clearly defined process in place to get the right information to your partners because misinformation can be compounded in the channel. Approach partners like customers by consolidating their activity on a single record in your CRM. This will ensure your internal sales, marketing, and service teams are aware of what’s happening with your partners.

  3. Data: Most importantly, solution-based selling requires data. If you collect and analyze data about partner behavior, you’ll be able to identify trends.  Ultimately, this frees up sales and service reps to tackle more pressing issues.

 

In-context collaboration helps manage channel conflict

 

Every channel is filled with a series of intertwining relationships where companies work with partners and vice versa. Partners often bounce between companies, especially when conflict or miscommunication occurs. Effective online collaboration can help minimize partner attrition.

The ability to collaborate within the portal environment provides the context necessary for productive work. With online conversations taking place next to account information, like lead, campaign, and opportunity, you can connect the issue with the business activity and take immediate action.

 

Meet today’s expectations for timely, relevant feedback

 

Led by Millennials, an expectation for speedy feedback and on-the-fly communication has now become pervasive in business culture as well. In order to build loyalty in the channel — especially with younger generations — channel teams need real-time methods of communication, like “live chat” for example

 

To run a successful channel-sales organization, it’s more important than ever to create a portal that provides easy, integrated ways to collaborate with your partners. To learn more about how to collaborate better with partners, watch our webinar, “The Future of Indirect Sales: Adapt or Get Left Behind.”