article | August 15, 2018
How Do You Know You Have the Optimal Go to Market Channel Assigned to the Marketplace
In today’s omni-channel world answering that question has never been more challenging for a CEO. There are no longer any boundaries for how, when and where potential buyers may be exposed to your products or services. However, without the right channel in place it may limit your ability to actually serve them.
Relying solely on a direct sales force still makes sense for certain companies. Others may choose the opposite end of the spectrum and focus almost exclusively on channel partners to cover the market. For many, the correct answer lies somewhere in between and is based on an endless number of variables.
One that should always rank at the very top is the answer to the question “What does your customer want?”.
So how do you decide if implementing a direct, indirect or combined channel sales approach is right for your organization?
First, assess your companies channel optimization against emerging best practices by downloading our Gap Gulf Assessment Tool.
Additionally, consider the answer to the following five questions:
To understand this, you obviously need their feedback. There are multiple ways to accomplish this. Phone calls, surveys, interviews, win-loss analysis, trade shows; even analyzing what works or doesn’t work for your competitors. Regardless of how you go about it, until you have a very clear understanding of the answer to this question, deciding on the optimal go to market channel strategy is really nothing more than a guess.
There are only so many hours in a day. Your organization may feel like it has mastered recruiting, onboarding and enablement of the best sales people in your industry. Even if that is true, it can still be a bottleneck to growth. Channel partnerships can help you address that problem by providing scalability (and flexibility) to the ways you can serve your end customer.
For a great example of how one SBI client, developed and executed an indirect sales strategy at scale through channel partners, click HERE.
The longer and more customized the sales cycle is, the more challenging it will be for your channel partners to master it. On the other hand, if there are services or support post-sale, you need to determine if that is a core competence of yours. If not, a channel partner may be the right answer and lead to improved customer satisfaction.
Smaller organizations with limited brand equity may benefit from riding the coat-tails of a larger more established channel partner. There can be instant credibility, and increased revenues, from the inherent endorsement. The flip side is to make sure you don’t choose a channel partner with a poor reputation and damage your brand by association.
Look at the geographic area you are trying to cover. Are there gaps where adding channel partners could help with revenue leakage? If face to face selling is table stakes in your industry, is it cost effective to do everything direct? Could a channel partner generate similar revenues for less cost? While considering this, also take into consideration potential channel conflict and overlap. It can be as damaging as the gaps themselves.
For a great example of how another SBI Client fully covered the market while avoiding channel conflict, click HERE.
Choosing the optimal go to market channel mix is a complex decision. Once made, the next challenge is how to manage your partners to ensure you are getting the most out of the relationship. It is difficult to manage what you don’t measure so implementing key partner program metrics is critical.
Here are four that you should consider:
No matter which channel your product or service is sold through, your organization will suffer if the end customer is not satisfied. Make sure you have a systematic way of capturing this feedback on a regular basis. It isn’t as easy as with a direct sales force, but it is just as critical, if not more so.
If you aren’t tracking the effectiveness of partner marketing campaigns you can’t properly allocate funds to those that produce results. Don’t go with a shotgun approach. Be surgical and data driven in supporting the partners who are giving you the best ROI.
Just like you want engaged employees, you want engaged partners. How do you measure this? Are they interacting with your internal sales team? Are they downloading and utilizing resources provided to them? Are they investing in continuous training? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you have an engaged partner; which means a partner more likely to drive revenue.
They are called channel “partners” for a reason. This is a two-way relationship that must benefit both sides to be successful. Companies meticulously measure customer and employee experience, so to should you measure and nurture partner experience.
SBI specializes in helping CEO’s and their executive team outpace the revenue growth of both their market and competitors. Optimizing your go to market channel strategy is just one of the ways that can be done. If you would like to find how to cover you market completely with direct and indirect sales channels, download and leverage SBI’s How to Make Your Number in 2018 PDF Workbook. Turn to the Channel Optimization phase in the Sales Strategy section, found on page 376.
Assess your company’s channel optimization against emerging best practices by downloading our Gap Gulf Assessment Tool.
If you have additional questions or would like help calculating and benchmarking where your organization stands, our team of experts can assist.
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