Channel Champion Blog

January 28, 2010: it’s not just the start of a new year but the start of a whole new decade. It’s promised that this decade is supposed to be better for everyone– if you believe the President’s Annual State of the Union Address last night.

Our team just returned from an event targeting channel marketing professionals yesterday in San Francisco. Attendees from about 50 companies were present to talk about what new (and old) challenges are facing us. To that end, here is a rundown of some of the “more lively” topic’s as gleaned from the pulse of the attendees.

1. As a vendor, are you easy for your partners to do business with? Many of us forget that our channel partners represent more lines than our own, and therefore assume that our partners’ as a whole are accepting of our quirks and understand all the changes we make to our programs and extranets on a routine basis. They don’t. My take: this is a topic of growing significance-and indeed vendors are starting to listen. In fact, I’ll be talking about this topic at a future conference, so stay tuned.

2. Vendor sales certification and training for partners. Among the issues most pressing to channel professionals is the sales readiness of their partners. The discovery is that different partners need different types of training-unique curriculums that align the solutions they sell and their business model. Sales training is not about product training, it’s about solution understanding and the best way to design and package solution to meet the needs of their prospects-training is not homogeneous anymore.

3. Using POS data to provide complete channel and program analytics. While many vendors use POS data for rebate and commission processing, still others don’t collect it at all. Some more progressive vendors have unlocked the secret to using POS data to analyze program performance, evaluate partner performance, and to conduct a gap analysis for coverage and skill sets. This is the wave to be on, if you’re not already doing it.

4. Social media is changing the face sales engagement. It’s understood that social media has its place in vendor communities and partner communities but it is also a growing sales tool. While most partners haven’t fully taken advantage of it yet, some of the more progressive ones are leveraging social media as a prospecting tool by using it as a way to learning about prospect needs and pain points before they make the introductory call. This advanced insight creates a fast track to building prospect rapport as well as targeting proposals since the sale person is already familiar with the prospects needs as they are conveyed on the social network.

I promise you that there will be complete articles on each of these areas in our newsletter moving forward, so if you haven’t signed up for it, now is your chance. (just sign up on this site). I am also anxious to hear about the challenges, rants and raves from other channel professionals so we can address those in the newsletter or this blog as well. So please leave your comments as I love to read them and to use as a basis for future content. This is only good for me if it’s good for you.