Are Your Sales Operations Chaotic?
It is a story told time and time again. As a Sales Operations leader in your organization, every day feels like an uphill battle. You have KPI’s to hit, and leadership is looking for results. However, nothing seems to be going smoothly, and it isn’t your fault. Your systems are down more than they are up. You can’t make heads or tails of your data. The projects no one wants with unrealistic deadlines are always appointed to your team. Your team is understaffed and underfunded, and on top of all of that, you have multiple channels to worry about. You have your VARs, OEMs, distributors, and agents each with their own unique sets of challenges. You find yourself asking, “How did this all get to be so complicated?”
How Did You Get to This Point?
Your executives decided to pursue more opportunities for indirect sales. Why not? They can get more market penetration via multiple indirect routes, and channel partners can help drive more product offerings. You receive word from “the top,” along with a 220-slide deck from Bain, and BOOM! You now have a partner strategy, and sales will own it. “Go forth and get partners!” they say. “Surely they will conduct business under the same expectations of your direct sales force.” “Our product is so awesome; it practically sells itself!” What could go wrong? Channel partners are identified, recruited, and signed, and while they try their very best, time and time again, they fail to meet expectations.
So What Now?
You’re a year into the edict, and you are dealing with the fall-out. You don’t have the necessary staff to support an indirect channel. You are still understaffed and underfunded. You aren’t offered system support. You already have challenges with your own sales team using the CRM, and now the problem is compounded. You already worry daily about your forecasting accuracy. On top of that, you now must worry about a different process for partners.
The reason for this fall-out is that when it comes to partner strategy, you were never plugged into the decision-making process. You were invited late to the dance and left to clean up the confetti.
You Ask Yourself, “If I Could Go Back in Time and Do Something Different, What Would I Do?”
Here are the essentials to developing an indirect selling strategy that ensures back-end support:
- Partner With Sales on Partner Selection: Define your scorecard of what matters to Sales Operations using a Partner Prioritization Tool. CRM, reporting cadence, size of team, pipeline and forecasting process and accuracy are all things you should consider
- Define What Is Needed for Systems Integration: Can your selected partners integrate? How are you going to ingest their pipeline, forecasts, and metrics management with as little disruption as possible?
- Align on Rules of Engagement: Who is responsible for the accuracy of the information and final decision-making? What system is recording volume of deals? How is discounting being handled?
What Can You Do to Immediately Correct Your Course?
If your partner strategy is already in motion and hasn’t clearly defined the items, do not fret. You need to make sure that the high expectations of partner sell-through are achieved, so start with one change at a time. Here are three things that you can do right now to assess and course-correct your partner strategy:
- Review the partner strategy: What is expected of your company? What is expected of your partners? Are these expectations documented and tracked?
- Review performance metrics: Are the partners achieving the goals that they signed up for? Are they delivering what was expected? If not, identify the gaps and partner with your sales team to communicate the message.
- Evaluate your enablement: Is your company enabling the partner strategy through a symbiotic relationship? Are you making introductions? Is there a two-way lead highway? Are you training them on your products? Is Marketing and Account Management expected to support them, and are they hitting the mark?
Digging into your existing strategy and identifying the most significant gaps is the best way to get back on track. The path to success is to partner both internally and externally, to achieve your company’s goals.
SBI helps implement emerging best practices in companies that span a broad range of industries, to grow revenue faster than the competition. Partner strategy is just one aspect of our assessment. Download our Partner Capability Assessment Tool to find out if you have a partner problem. Check out our Channel Optimization Guide to read about best practices and how to implement them.