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How To Scale Your Indirect Sales Channels For Maximum Growth

In this post, we uncover some approaches to better engage your indirect sales channels in 2022.

In 2022, the key to scaling your indirect sales channels is understanding the different approaches to indirect sales and their challenges, as well as the types of partners available to you. You also need to know how to set up an actionable program that produces the results you’re looking for. Once you know all of these basics, you can achieve maximum revenue growth for your company in 2022 – and beyond.

Choosing A Partner Type

Indirect sales can include any type of third-party that sells your offering to an end customer on your behalf. Any scenario where you cede control of a portion of your company, sales or otherwise, to an outside entity comes with a little risk. That’s why it’s important to approach indirect sales with a clear plan in mind. The first step in that plan is choosing the type of partner you want or need to work with, that will help your company grow and your profits thrive. 

1. Value-added Resellers (VARs)

Value-added resellers (VARs) take a product or service, repackage it with additional features or services to increase its inherent value, and resell it at a higher price. 

2. Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

Managed service providers (MSPs) are partners that bigger companies outsource to provide a specialized service. You’ll find this type of partner most commonly in the tech world, where they typically handle IT and security software.

3. Systems Integrators (SIs)

System integrators (SIs) specialize in helping businesses integrate new technology and software into their management and workflow systems.

4. XaaS Consultants

XaaS consultants are partners that provide “anything as a service” over the internet. It includes software, infrastructure, and platforms.

5. Business Service Outsourcers (BSOs)

Business service outsourcers (BSOs) take charge of using new technology and software to improve processes within a business.

6. Master Agent/Agent

A master agent holds a contract with a large company with the goal of selling subcontracts for that company to agents or partners under them. 

The best way to determine which type of partner to hire or commission is to identify your needs as a company, both in how you run the business and where the gaps are in your sales strategy. 

The Challenges For Different Verticals 

Certain verticals experience unique challenges when it comes to indirect sales. 

1. Tech

Tech and indirect sales form a challenging marriage for obvious reasons. Technical support for software and electronics can pose significant challenges, as some customers will try to contact the sales partner rather than the manufacturer to troubleshoot problems. 

2. Manufacturing

Manufacturers take a big risk when they use indirect sales channels to distribute their goods. They have to trust that their partners will maximize their merchandising efforts and reach a wide range of customers whilst representing their brand in the best light possible.

3. Professional Services

By using indirect sales, professional services companies can lose that all-important direct connection between them and their clients. Unless they prioritize lines of consistent communication between them, their customers, and their indirect sales partners, they could appear more corporate than human and lose the air of accessibility. 

Putting A Program In Place

After you decide what type of partner (or partners) you need to work with, it’s time to create a rock-solid program of implementation that will see you through to your end goals for indirect sales. 

1. Establish A Program Framework

Build a partner program framework that incentivizes your partners to make more sales and benefit your company. You can implement the commonly used pyramid model with silver, gold, and platinum tiers, i.e., opportunities for partners to grow in the company and earn more money by increasing their work efforts. 

2. Set Up A Partner Relationship Management (PRM) System

Partner relationship management (PRM) software enables direct management of your indirect sales team. Remember that keeping the lines of communication open and flowing between you and your partners is key to making the program work efficiently and effectively. You need software and strategies in place that allow you to monitor your partners’ progress and keep everyone on track toward the desired goals.  With the right software, it’s possible to scale your network by 300% in just six months.

3. Establish Clear Boundaries And Connections Between Direct And Indirect Sales Teams

You must establish clear boundaries and connection points between your direct and indirect sales teams. Which sales and target demographics will each one handle? Which ones will they work on jointly? How will direct and indirect salespeople be rewarded? These are questions you must answer to ensure that everyone is onboard and treated fairly.

4. Train Your Partners

Train your partners in how to use the services or goods you provide, how the management system works and who they should report to– as well as how to further your company’s brand and mission. 

5. Give Your Partners Relevant Data For Their Target Audience

Don’t leave your partners stumbling in the dark when you hand over your indirect sales to them. Give them relevant data for their target audience, including demographics and past failures or successes to sell to them. Identify the gaps in direct sales that have led you to contract your indirect sales partners, and share that information with them. The more data they have about past sales and future goals, the better able they will be to do their jobs.

Repeat this program with the different types of partners you hire, tailoring the individual components to the partner and what they need to meet the expectations you set. 

How To Measure Success

With your indirect sales program in place, you must measure its success so you can optimize your processes and maximize profitability. Below are three ways to measure success. 

1. Project Long-Term Profitability

As the program continues, monitor your bottom line and how it shifts as a result of your indirect sales partners’ efforts. Measure the rate that your partners bring in new and repeat sales, and how big those sales are. Use these numbers to project long-term profitability. Will the current model bring in significant profits a year or five years down the road?

2. Survey Customer Satisfaction

Survey your customers after they’ve had time to interact with your partners. Are they satisfied with the interaction, or did it leave them disappointed? Is the use of your new partners bringing more customers in or driving them away? 

3. Assess Depth And Breadth Of Indirect Sales Coverage

How wide is the net that your indirect sales team has cast? Are they increasing your coverage to bring in more sales? And are you engaging the right partners that will widen the pool of potential customers? Remember that specific needs call for specific partners. 

Conclusion

To recap: to scale your indirect sales channels you must build a program that both aids your partners and optimizes your profit turnaround. Begin by establishing a program framework, a PRM, and distinct boundaries between your direct and indirect sales teams. Then you can bring in your partners, train them, and provide them with relevant sales data. 

From there, monitor your program to pinpoint weaknesses to increase your bottom line. 

Say goodbye to soul-crushing spreadsheets!

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