How to follow-up with your channel sales partners and channel account managers?
- June 18 2018
- Posted by: Anila Macula
- Category: Blogs
Your indirect sales partners (or channel partners) have several tasks to accomplish.
They don’t exactly work under your company, nor do they work in the same office.
This makes it tough to communicate because sometimes your emails and notifications get to the bottom of their inbox. Chances are, If you don’t get an immediate reply, it doesn’t mean that they’re ignoring you—but it could mean that you need to follow-up.
But how do you follow-up with your partners and account managers? And, how do you build an effective follow-up process? These are probably some of the most common questions we’ve received.
…but don’t worry!
Following-up is not rocket science. In this article, we’ll discuss what need to know to effectively follow up with your indirect sales partners and account managers:
1. Understand that data availability is not the same as data accessibility.
First, make sure that the data you have is accessible for your account managers and partners.
That seems obvious enough, but in a lot of companies we’ve worked with, CRM systems and excel sheets are all over the place. So, when the data gets lost in different tools and sheets (and this happens more often than you think!), sales partners and account managers spend a lot of time finding files or recovering the data they lost.
In other cases, some employees update the data and upload it online, but with so many indirect sales partners, they lose track of the files they sent and forget whether or not they sent them. Meaning that relevant information might not be accessible to all of your indirect partners. Having a software, a tool or location where you can place all your data, and that’s available to all your indirect sales partners—is important. This way, up to date information and follow-ups are readily available to them. There’s also less time wasted finding information, and more time spent with the tasks that matter.
Now, the moment that you make data accessible, doesn’t mean you can use the data.
You’ll need to transform data into knowledge.
2. Transform your data into knowledge
Data doesn’t mean information. Information doesn’t mean knowledge.
Let’s say, you have a spreadsheet of all the activities of your customers through a CRM tool. From the data you’ve downloaded, you know customer X opened his emails 5 times, customer Y clicked on your ads and customer Z messaged you about the product.
This is great information, but it doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t transform the data into knowledge.
What segment does customer X, Y and Z belong to? How should your sales partners interact with them? Which customers are your hottest leads?
You’ll need to hire researchers, analysts and marketers who can transform the data into something that your indirect sales partners will understand.
If you follow-up and send all the raw data, Account Managers won’t understand how to use it to make more sales. After all, they’re salespeople—not research analysts in your company.
So make sure you hire people who can communicate the data and provide research-backed insights on how you can improve your sales process.
3. Create status reports
There are two types of status: strategic status and operational status.
a) Determining your operational status involves answering the questions:
-What is the turnover at the moment?
-Are there any open questions?
-Do we have important customer issues?
b) Strategic status involves asking about the open issues:
-Are we doing the right thing?
-Are our partners doing the right thing?
-Are there any hurdles we need to take into account in order to achieve our long-term objective, with a partner for example?
Once you find the answer to these questions, structure it into your report and cite research-backed data. That’s why we’ve previously discussed transforming your data into knowledge (step two).
You’ll need status reports to follow-up on your account managers’ or indirect sales partners’ progress and performance on their tasks and projects. Once this information is sent to your partners or sales management—they’ll know their status, which will help them come up with insightful solutions to make more sales and improve your business.
4. Make it easy
We are particularly fond of the traffic light model.
Traffic lights make life easy.
They guide us on the road, but in the case of indirect sales, traffic lights make sure you don’t get lost in all kinds of details in your status reports.
To state the obvious, in the model, red means ‘let’s STOP it,’ yellow means ‘Slow down or PROCEED WITH CAUTION, and make a few improvements,’ and green means ‘Go’ or ‘Let’s carry on with this activity.’
That seems obvious enough, but make sure you apply this technique on all levels.
First of all, on the general level, ask:
What is my segment or region doing? Is it red, yellow or green?
Next, go one level deeper and get an overview of all your accounts and partners, then assess them based on the same traffic light model. Structure your objectives and look at your status.
For every objective, ask the status of each. Where are we in terms of this—red, yellow or green?
By using the traffic light technique, you’ll provide partners and account managers with clear follow-ups in regards to their goals, performance and tasks.
Over to You
When you think about following-up try to do the following.
1. Make sure that your data is accessible.
2. Hire the right people to transform data into knowledge.
3. Have a structure between a strategic and operational status.
4. Make it easy for reporting.
I understand this is easier said than done. Following-up is never easy, but as long as you know these four steps you’ll be able to follow up and better collaborate with indirect sales partners and account managers.
-Learn more from our BRM Academy video
Written by : Frie Pétré