Technology Vendors: Ignite the Channel with Value
“There are great products everywhere. But the money, the real money, goes to the best communicators.”
Dr Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad
You might have developed the best bit of technology in the world, absolutely top of the range. You might be able to help customers be more successful beyond their dreams. But that alone won’t bring you sales. Because as a tech vendor, you need a reseller network to sell for you. You need to ignite your Channel, but what’s the best way to do that?
Your resellers have problems of their own. Inundated with products, sometimes thousands of them, their sales teams are scrambling to keep up. Which means their sales conversations quite often feel like ‘feature dumping’ – lists of specifications rather than reasons to buy. Many partner sales teams are reactive and not actively hunting opportunities for you – they cannot build pipeline if you do not address this.
So you try and influence your Channel as best you can. Incentives, information, presentations, branding, gifts – the list goes on. But everyone else is doing the same.
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The best way to ignite your channel is to have an effective value proposition. Something so simple a 6-year-old can understand it. A clear and memorable value proposition will do the heavy lifting for you, and mean that you can ignite hundreds of conversations happening each week, rather than your proposition being put in the ‘too hard’ basket.
An effective value proposition will also start conversations with customers higher up the executive food chain. Too many partner sales people are having conversations stuck at the technical and operational level because they do not have a value proposition that recognises true business drivers which have appeal at the C-Level.
We work with dozens of tech vendors to make their proposition dance its way through the channel, infecting partners with enthusiasm and energy. Here are some top tips:
1) Halve your message, then halve it again
People need simple messages that sell. Obama’s “Yes, we can”. Tesco’s “Every little helps” or McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it”. Simple messages really resonate in our minds particularly if they are repeated.
Now, I’m not saying that your value proposition must be three words but if you present it in a simple, clear, motivating way you’ve got a better chance of igniting your partner network.
Recently, we worked with leading security software vendor Sophos. They had a detailed cybersecurity proposition relating to networks and firewalls. We uncovered this neat value statement that is helping them to sell a lot more: “All of your network security threats presented in a single pane of glass.” Beautifully simple – you can picture it! Job done.
2). Don’t change your value proposition too often.
We know tech vendors in the market who change their value proposition many times a year. Technology moves at a fast pace, but changing your proposition too frequently makes it hard to give your reseller network a message that sticks.
Think carefully before you dislodge or change your value proposition. It’s better to shoot for “fresh consistency” – giving it a facelift but not a complete overhaul.
3). Give your Channel salespeople an experience, not a coffee mug
(Or … Give them a fishing rod, not a fish:)
A recent study by researchers at San Francisco State University showed people “enjoy greater well-being from life experiences and consider them to be a better use of money.”
So, rather than another gadget, use your Marketing Development Fund to give your Channel salespeople an experience – the gift that keeps on giving.
That’s why we have seen significant success from sales training events. If you sponsor sales training for your Channel they’ll be forever grateful that you made them better salespeople. You can weave your value proposition through the training, so you’ll get a great return on your investment as it embeds in your Channel.
We’ve worked with inside sales teams for resellers, sponsored by vendors like Dell, Oracle and Splunk. We show them how to ask the right questions to get the prospect thinking and the best way to handle objections and close deals – all based around the vendor’s technology value proposition.
In the months and years that follow the training, we hear that Channel sales people link their success to the vendor’s brand. And quite often those lessons stay with people for life.
Our offer to tech vendors:
1) Develop your proposition: We come to you and work with your marketing and sales leadership team on messages, questions and case studies that are simple and effective. This is exactly what we did last week for NetApp, and they loved it!
2) We roll out our Natural LIVE programme: Training events for key teams in your Channel. NetApp is bringing us into their platinum channel partners Insight and Softcat.
3) We track performance: We measure success and report on all the deals opened, advanced and won to ensure you have the exact impact of your spend.
The message is clear: Let us help you develop a value proposition that your resellers will understand, remember and use to sell your products in front of any other vendor’s. If you get that right, you will enjoy a wave of enthusiasm and success like you’ve never seen before.
Learn more at one of our upcoming free Technology Breakfast Roundtables in London and Reading.
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