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Channel sales program plays important part in company growth

For many businesses, the relationship with distributors and resellers can be as important as the product itself. A strong channel sales network has the capacity to generate increasing amounts of revenue without the vendor having to do all of the heavy lifting. But creating a successful channel sales program is not as simple as just signing with partners. Once signed, the vendor needs to remain flexible, adapting to the market landscape and the needs of the channel partner.

By paying attention to the demands of the channel sales partners, the vendor has a better chance of enhancing customer loyalty and continuing to expand the network. The first step, writers Heather Ryan for HubSpot, an online marketing company, is to supply partners with easy-to-use marketing plans that can be transferable across many verticals.

The second, and perhaps most important step, is to provide channel partners with sales opportunities. By funneling hot leads to local resellers, vendors can provide a base security net that will keep new business opportunities coming in, even if the reseller is having problems establishing its own leads.

A good email campaign that can be displayed across a network of partners is a good insert as well, writes Ryan. Like issuing leads, the campaign can take a lot of the heavy lifting out of the reseller's sales operations.

"This campaign is to help move leads further down the funnel and to help increase a partner's lead-to-customer percentages. Often channel managers have the ability to give marketing funds for offers, so why not provide them the email message to use as well," Ryan writes.

Lastly, Ryan states, vendors should notify the channel of any broad successes a partner may have. By doing so, the vendor can increase its credibility among its channel and ideally generate more confidence in its company and product, while potentially raising partner motivation to sell.

According to the Association for Strategic Alliance Professionals, 40 percent of all revenues for the top 1000 companies in the U.S. is derived through channel sales, but 60 percent of all channel partnerships deteriorate or collapse because of lack of communication. Regardless of the steps, vendors should never take their channel for granted and should always lend a close ear to what is happening among the partners.