The Ultimate Guide to Channel Sales (2022)

Table of Contents
What is channel sales? Channel Sales Pros Channel Sales Cons What are channel partners? What makes a good channel partner? Sales Channel Strategy Should my business use a channel sales strategy? How to Create a Sales Channel Program Channel Sales vs Direct Sales How to Know Whether Channel Sales is Right For You Sales Channel Examples 1. Resellers 2. Affiliate Partners 3. Distributors 4. Wholesalers 5. Value Added Reseller (VAR) 6. Independent Retailers 7. Dealers 8. Agents 9. Consultants Types of Channel Partners Sales Channel Partnership Platforms 1. PartnerTap Channel Insights 2. Crossbeam 3. Channeltivity 4. Allbound PRM How to Measure Your Channel Sales Program 1. Total Number of Partners 2. Recruitment Quota Attainment 3. Partner Attrition Rate 4. Percentage of Partners Recruited by Channel 5. Average Cost of Recruiting and Onboarding a New Partner 6. Average Length of Time to Recruit and Onboard a New Partner 7. Total Number of Partner Deals Registered 8. Average Value of Partner Deal 9. Percentage of Accepted Partner-Submitted Deals 10. Percentage of Closed Partner-Submitted Deals 11. Average Sales Cycle Length 12. Percentage of Partners Who Registered Leads in Past Month or Quarter 13. Percentage of Partners Using Provided Sales and Marketing Collateral 14. Percentage of Partners Who Attend Optional Events and/or Ongoing Training 15. Average Partner Satisfaction Score 16. Percentage of Partners Who Attempted Certification 17. Percentage of Partners Who Completed Certification 18. CAC for Each Partner Sale Versus Direct Sale 19. Retention Rates for Partner Sales Versus Direct Sales 20. Cross-Sell and Upsell Rates for Partner Sales Versus Direct Sales Channel Sales Manager Job Description Grow Your Business with Channel Sales FAQs Videos

One of the biggest challenges to scaling revenue? Your salespeople only have so much time. Even if you hire the most focused people, invest in tools that boost their efficiency, and remove all distractions, there’s a limited number of selling hours in the day.

The Ultimate Guide to Channel Sales (1)

Some companies choose to hire more reps, and while that might work — it's not the only solution. Plus, recruiting, hiring, and employing salespeople is expensive and cuts away at your margins.

So what else can you do? Well, something called a channel sales model presents a viable, potentially game changing opportunity — instead of hiring more reps, you distribute your products via a channel partner that will market and sell the product for you.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • What is Channel Sales?
  • What are Channel Partners?
  • Sales Channel Strategy
  • Channel Sales vs. Direct Sales
  • Sales Channel Examples
  • Types of Channel Partners
  • Sales Channel Partnership Platforms
  • How to Measure Your Channel Sales Program
  • Channel Sales Manager Job Description

What is channel sales?

In a channel sales model, a company sells through third-party partners — affiliate partners (who get commission on each purchase), resellers, value-added providers (who typically bundle your product with their own), or another entity that doesn't work for you directly.

Channel sales offers many benefits, but it might not be right for your company. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of adopting this sales model over direct sales.

Channel Sales Pros

Adopting a channel sales model has significant benefits to consider. Apart from the fact that you could downsize your sales team, you’ll also enjoy built-in trust, increased efficiency, rapid testing and experimentation, and increased customer success. Let’s go over these one by one.

Built-in Trust

If your channel partner is already well-known within a market or vertical, you don’t have to do the work of establishing a brand presence. Your product will automatically seem more credible because of their endorsement.

Increased Efficiency

One channel manager paired with several channel partners can bring in the same amount of revenue as five or six salespeople at a fraction of the cost. It’s also typically easier to bring on new partners than hire a new salesperson – especially once you’ve created the program and worked out the kinks.

Rapid Testing and Experimentation

Channel partners let you experiment with new customer bases, products, packages, promotions, and/or marketing campaigns in a low-stakes environment.

Customer Success

If your customers need training, onboarding, implementation support, and service, partnering with vendors who offer these services lets you focus on closing new business without sacrificing your existing users.

That all sounds great, right? But channel sales does have some cons — let’s take a look at them below.

Channel Sales Cons

While adopting channel sales has tangible benefits, there are a few drawbacks that make it less than ideal for some businesses.

Less Control Over Sales

You’re not directly managing the sales process. Your reps might not be able to jump in and take control if a partner is mismanaging a deal. They also might have zero say over the timeline of the deal — which can be frustrating and lead to unpredictable revenue.

Brand Risk

If you partner with someone who has a poor reputation or treats customers badly, you’ll look worse by association. That’s why it’s important to choose a channel partner who’s known for a good reputation and excellent customer service.

Reduced Profits

In exchange for bringing in and/or closing deals, your partners will get a piece of the pie. You’ll make less on individual sales (but keep in mind, it’s probably cheaper to acquire each one).

Harder to Manage

It can be difficult to update your sales strategy, change your messaging, add a new product, or make any kind of major shift. You’re not simply rolling out a change to one group — you’re asking multiple external groups to adapt.

Slower Feedback Cycle

Because your partners are talking to some or all of your customers, feedback will take longer to get to you. And that feedback might not be 100% accurate — even if your partners are trustworthy, they may ask bad questions, use unreliable methods of gathering and/or analyzing the results, or unintentionally give you a biased interpretation.

Potential Competition

Things can get very messy, very quickly when your direct salespeople compete with your partners for the same business. Suppose a rep decides to cut their partner out of the deal because they don't want to give up the commission. If the partner finds out, they're unlikely to ever pass the rep leads again. This leads to a case of channel partner conflict that could result in the relationship being severed.

Let's take a closer look at what channel partners are and what makes a good one.

What are channel partners?

A channel partner is a company that sells and distributes a manufacturer’s product. Channel partners include resellers, affiliate partners, distributors, value-added providers, independent retailers — basically, anyone who doesn’t work directly for your organization.

Aside from making your product accessible to a greater number of people, channel partners serve a similar target buyer and have existing collateral or content that appeals to that buyer.

It might be tempting to partner with as many channel partners as possible, but it’s best to choose only a few, and to do so carefully.

Just like trying to sell to everyone reduces your focus and actually harms your overall results, trying to partner with everyone is a bad idea. Being choosy will pay off — not only because it will increase your revenue but because it will result in a much longer and profitable partnership.

(Video) Channel Sales 1 - Why Companies Use Channel Sales Strategies

What makes a good channel partner?

The process of finding partners is almost identical to finding prospects: First, you need to define what an "ideal partner" looks like. Let’s take a look at some of the aspects that you should look for.

Complementary to Your Product

The partner’s product or service should fill a gap in your offering or help your customers use your offering more effectively. For example, HubSpot’s marketing agency partners help small businesses take full advantage of HubSpot’s marketing software.

Aligned With Your Market

You should also consider whether your partner’s customers would benefit from your product. Are they demanding additional support, features, or solutions that your partner can’t currently provide? Are their customers the right fit in terms of geography, use case, and size?

High Technical Expertise

Identify how much technical knowledge your partner would need to sell (and potentially service) your products. You might have to do very little education and support — or you might have to do a great deal. Although training a partner requires more time and resources, it also gives them an additional incentive to work with you.

Tip: If your average selling price (ASP) is low, and your partners resell your product relatively infrequently, investing so much into training them isn’t wise. Make sure you’re tracking how much revenue the partner is bringing in compared to the average return.

Similar Sales Process

Your partner’s sales process should be compatible with yours. Ideally, there’s a natural point in their sales or services process for introducing or upselling your product.

Manageable Commitment Level

Ask yourself how much commitment would be required for success. For example, maybe your partner would need to spend one full day per quarter at your office getting training. On the other end of the spectrum, perhaps all they need is a basic understanding of your product, which they can learn from one 30-minute video.

Once you’ve crafted your ideal partner persona, rank the characteristics by importance. This exercise will give you a framework for evaluating specific partners.

Now, let's take a look at how one of these programs can come together.

Which channel partner types can you choose from? Here are some examples of sales channels through which you can sell your product or service.

Sales Channel Strategy

A channel sales strategy works much better for some businesses than it does for others — so before you jump into putting one of these programs together, you need to take some time and determine whether it suits your organization.

Should my business use a channel sales strategy?

Embracing a channel sales strategy can be a tough call for a lot of businesses — especially ones reluctant to trust third parties with their reputation and brand authority. But as we've established, these kinds of strategies come with their share of benefits.

Not every business is fit for a channel sales strategy, and whether you should leverage one rests on a few factors. You need to ask yourself some key questions to determine whether pursuing channel sales suits your interests — those include the following.

Does my business have the resources to handle increased demand?

A channel sales strategy is, at its core, an expansion method. You're diversifying your sales channels, getting more eyes on your brand, and ultimately setting yourself up to move more of your product or service. So if you want to pursue channel sales, you need to be equipped to handle all of that.

If you don't think you have the means or necessary production infrastructure in place to accommodate increased demand, you might want to wait on leveraging a channel sales strategy.

Is my sales process effective, repeatable, and accessible enough to suit channel partners?

How you sell your product or service might be the key sticking point when establishing an effective channel sales strategy. So if you want your strategy to work, you need to have a provenly effective sales process, a firm understanding of your target market, and an accessible way of conveying those elements to channel partners.

If you're still refining your sales process or getting a feel for who you're trying to appeal to, you might wind up leaving channel partners high and dry — leading to an ineffective strategy that doesn't do much for anyone involved. So if you're still "getting there" sales process-wise, a channel sales strategy isn't for you (yet).

Am I willing to trust potential partners with my brand reputation?

A channel sales strategy is, in large part, about trust. You're letting people outside your organization sell your product on your behalf — that means you're forfeiting a fair amount of control without losing too much accountability.

If your channel partner does something wrong, the prospect or customer on the wrong side of that mistake is going to associate it with your product or service. If the thought of that is too stressful for you, you might not want to leverage channel sales.

When HubSpot was building a sales channel strategy, our team used inbound marketing principles to attract partners. We created content that specifically targeted the types of channel partners we wanted to have.

Not only is this strategy easier to scale than an outbound one, but it also guarantees that your potential partners know about your company from the first conversation.

With that in mind, here’s how to create a sales channel program step-by-step.

How to Create a Sales Channel Program

1. Craft relevant, useful content to attract partners.

Use your ideal partner persona to craft relevant, useful content. For example, if you want to work with staffing firms, you might write an ebook on how to place consultants, or host a virtual networking event for staffing firms to meet job candidates.

The partners you attract should be highly relevant to your industry. Once you’ve attracted a few prospective partners, reel them in by focusing on their needs.

2. Focus on the partner’s needs.

Once you’ve started talking to a potential partner, make their needs the focus of the conversation. They won’t be interested in working with you unless they’re also benefiting. Figure out how you’d be able to help — by enabling them to sell additional services, reach new clients, or enhance the value of their product or service.

Once you’ve established a few partnerships, choose a structure for the partnership.

3. Choose a structure for the channel sales partnership.

There are three main ways to structure channel sales. First, you and your partner can sell together. Your products improve each other. For instance, if you offer catering services, you might partner with a company that provides event clean-up. This type of partnership helps companies add more value to their customers.

Second, you can sell through your partner. Department stores are a classic example — they curate items from a range of third-party brands. Variety is typically the key. If you can find a partner who’s already selling several similar products to yours, they may be a good fit for this type of partnership.

Third, your partner can sell for you. These partners incorporate your product into theirs — in fact, the end user may never know about your company. When you go to the supermarket and buy the store brand, you’re actually buying an independent brand that’s been packaged with the grocery store’s label. You don’t have to use one method exclusively. Many companies use two or even three of these simultaneously, along with a direct sales model. It all depends on your needs.

4. Motivate your channel sales partners to sell.

Channel sales is extremely challenging because you’re trying to motivate people you have no direct influence over. If a regular salesperson doesn’t meet quota, you can work with them and/or put them on a performance plan. If a partner isn’t selling — well, there’s not much you can do, apart from “fire” them from the program. That’s usually not the most desirable option.

To get partners to sell, you’ll need to develop excellent resources that they can use to confidently sell your product. You should invest twice as much in content for your channel partners than you do for your direct sales reps. After all, your partners are much less familiar with the product.

(Video) The Ultimate Guide to Building a Channel in 2021

Make sure they’re armed with clear, comprehensive, prospect-ready product specs, testimonials, customer examples, competitive comparisons, email templates, call scripts, meeting agendas, and objection-handling cheat sheets. Having this material will make partners feel more confident, which will boost their desire to sell.

5. Communicate often with your partners.

If your partners rarely hear from you, they won’t be as invested in the program. They also won’t know the latest news, product updates, and strategic announcements. On your end, you might not discover issues until they’ve festered for a while.

The solution? Maintain regular contact with your partners. Send a periodic email, create a Slack room, make a Facebook group, hold partner “office hours,” run webinars, host meetings at your office — whatever you need to do to stay in touch.

6. Offer extra rewards.

While earning commission on deals is a compelling incentive, some companies (like HubSpot) add additional reward systems to their partnership.

This lets you create “superpartners” and drive specific desired behaviors. For example, you might have a tiered system: One tier for basic partners, a higher tier for partners who sell over a specific amount per month or year, and a third tier for partners who sell over an even higher amount per month or year.

Depending on their tier, offer advanced marketing support, tickets to exclusive events, strategic consulting, meetings with your executives, access to beta features, premium listing in your directory, opportunities to interact directly with your audience, features in your email newsletter, and so forth.

7. Use a sales channel partnership platform.

For scaling multi-channel businesses, keeping data related to your partnerships organized can be a challenge. Using a tool designed to keep your channel data streamlined can be a helpful option, such as PartnerPortal. This will not only allow you to keep track of revenue generated by your sales partners, but sustainably grow your channel sales program.

It takes a lot of time and energy to get a partner channel system up and running. If you need money sooner rather than later, focus on direct sales for now. Firas Raouf, an expert in early-stage B2B tech companies, recommends building at least $20 million in revenue before launching a partner sales program.

To build a program, you’ll need to recruit third-parties to sell and distribute your product. These third-parties are called channel partners, and they typically take care of the sales process from beginning to end.

Because of the stress of that creation process and the drawbacks I mentioned earlier, some businesses are more drawn to direct sales. Let’s compare these two models.

Channel Sales vs Direct Sales

In channel sales, a company sells and distributes its products and services via a third party. In direct sales, a company sells its products and services directly to a consumer. Companies that use a channel sales model don’t need an in-house sales team, though they might use a mixture of direct and channel sales to increase revenue.

Your sales team is responsible for increasing revenue in a direct sales model. They might use a mixture of inbound sales and outbound methods, prospecting and qualifying leads to turn opportunities into closed-won deals.

In channel sales, you rely on third parties to sell your product or service. When considering adopting a channel sales model, you should take a few factors into account.

How to Know Whether Channel Sales is Right For You

If you’re planning to adopt a channel sales model over a direct sales model, it’s important to consider the state of your company, product, sales process, and more.

Company Size and Maturity

Small companies can use partners to grow their business without needing to invest in hiring and training a sales team. Once they’re larger, they can bring their own reps on board (or if channel sales is working, continue with what they’re doing!).

Product Maturity

If your product is still in the early stages, you might want to take advantage of a direct relationship with your customers so you can quickly and efficiently assess what’s working, what’s not, and what to build next.

Sales Process Maturity

Before you can teach other people how to sell your product, you need to understand how to sell it yourself. If you haven’t defined the various stages of your sales process, the most important buying triggers, which customer stakeholders are typically involved, how long the average deal takes to close, and so on, you may want to postpone a channel sales initiative.

In this case, consider taking an inbound sales course to brush up on your skills, and build the confidence needed to refine your sales process. You should also consider your process’ complexity. The lengthier and more complex your sales cycle, the harder it will be for your partners to resell. A simple, straightforward, relatively short process is ideal.

Location

If your offices are spread out, it might make sense to use a channel sales model. That makes creating multiple sales teams unnecessary. Of course, you can also use an inside sales model where appropriate.

Revenue Needs

It takes a lot of time and energy to get a partner channel system up and running. If you need money sooner rather than later, focus on direct sales for now. Firas Raouf, an expert in early-stage B2B tech companies, recommends building at least $20 million in revenue before launching a partner sales program.

To build a program, you’ll need to recruit third parties to sell and distribute your product. These third parties are called channel partners, and they typically take care of the sales process from beginning to end.

Sales Channel Examples

1. Resellers

A reseller purchases a product from the company that produces it, and resells it to the intended end-user for profit. Essentially, a reseller serves as an intermediary between the company that makes a product, and the final customer.

In this scenario, the customer will typically go straight to the reseller to initiate the purchase and the reseller will work with their sourcing companies to fulfill the order.

2. Affiliate Partners

In an affiliate partnership, a retailer will pay commission to website owners, businesses, and individuals who promote their products. Affiliate partners are typically paid a percentage of each sale they are responsible for bringing in.

The Amazon affiliate program is a popular affiliate partnership platform.

3. Distributors

Distribution channels provide products directly to the consumer. Some distribution channels are agents, websites, or businesses that serve as intermediaries between the companies that produce the products and the final buyer.

4. Wholesalers

A wholesaler is a type of distributor who specializes in getting physical products on store shelves to be purchased by consumers. Wholesalers typically have sales reps who work to sell their products to retailers.

Common examples of wholesalers include suppliers who sell food and other goods to restaurants, and stores such as Costco who buy their goods directly from manufacturers and sell them to their customers.

5. Value Added Reseller (VAR)

Value added resellers are companies that specialize in purchasing and reselling technology products with additional software or features that are above and beyond the standalone features of the product.

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An example of a value added reseller would be a computer company that sells hardware with another company’s software pre-installed.

6. Independent Retailers

An independent retailer is a business owner who runs a retail company that is not tied to any major brand or franchise. For example, if an entrepreneur founded and operates a clothing boutique without the support of a parent company, they would be considered an independent retailer.

7. Dealers

Dealers sell products directly to end consumers, but operate differently than retailers who sell several variations of a wide variety of products. The most common type of dealer is an automobile dealer, who sells and leases cars directly to the end-user.

8. Agents

In this channel, agents serve as an intermediary who does not have any ownership over the products or services they are selling. Agents facilitate deals between buyers and sellers, assisting with the negotiation process.

A common example is real estate. A real estate agent or broker is not the owner selling the property to a buyer; however, they do oversee the process until an agreement is reached and the deal is closed.

9. Consultants

Channel consultants support the creation and efficiency of sales channels. Individuals in this role often connect retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and vendors to ensure the smooth delivery of a product to its customer. Though channel consultants do not directly sell, they play an integral part in making sure sales channels are running smoothly.

Types of Channel Partners

The Ultimate Guide to Channel Sales (3)

Sales Channel Partnership Platforms

Here are a few sales channel tools that can support your business as your channels and partnerships become more complex.

1. PartnerTap Channel Insights

The Ultimate Guide to Channel Sales (4)

PartnerTap’s Channel Insights tool empowers companies to automate channel mapping and scale their sales efforts. This platform provides in-depth analysis on your current accounts, showing where there is opportunity to grow current partnerships and helps users determine the viability and profitability of future partnerships.

PartnerTap is also part of the HubSpot Ecosystem, and their tools integrate flawlessly with your CRM.

Pricing: Free; Pricing available upon request

2. Crossbeam

The Ultimate Guide to Channel Sales (5)

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Crossbeam provides powerful software to manage channel partnerships. A major upgrade from spreadsheets, notable features of Crossbeam’s tool include real-time forecasting, instant account mapping, and cross-partner lead generation.

Crossbeam can also connect directly

Pricing: Free; Pricing available upon request

3. Channeltivity

The Ultimate Guide to Channel Sales (6)

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Channeltivity’s partner relationship management software provides an all-in-one channel management solution. This cloud-based tool has an extensive set of features including a channel partner portal, partner training materials, distributor management, a commission management platform, and more.

Channeltivity also offers a HubSpot edition of their software that provides real-time pipeline visibility for businesses and partners.

Pricing: $1,399/month (Standard Edition); $1,699/month (HubSpot Edition)

4. Allbound PRM

The Ultimate Guide to Channel Sales (7)

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Allbound designs its partner portal technology to strike a strategic balance between customization and automation. Channel managers can tag partners based on region, industry, company size, and other descriptors so the platform only displays content relevant to individual users. Multi-tiered learning tracks and accompanying quizzes automatically award new portal permissions as partners advance their learnings. Plus, Allbound’s Channel Insights grants full visibility into engagement and partner sales performance.

As a HubSpot certified app, Allbound integrates with your CRM for comprehensive pipeline visibility and consistent practices across your sales ecosystem.

Pricing: Available upon request

How to Measure Your Channel Sales Program

Wondering what success looks like? Here’s what to measure for every aspect of your channel sales program.

1. Total Number of Partners

This metric can help you gauge how effective you are in establishing partnerships — how well you can conduct outreach and how solid your relationship-building skills are.

2. Recruitment Quota Attainment

This metric is sort of an extension of the one above. It can tell you how solid your recruitment efforts are relative to the goals you set for establishing partnerships.

3. Partner Attrition Rate

Attrition rate typically refers to employee or staff turnover. In this context, it's a measure of how many of your partnerships fail over a given period.

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4. Percentage of Partners Recruited by Channel

This metric gauges where your partnerships are coming from. For example, 50% might come from networking groups, 20% from proactive outreach, and 10% from referrals.

5. Average Cost of Recruiting and Onboarding a New Partner

This measure helps you tell how cost-efficient your channel partnership-building process is.

6. Average Length of Time to Recruit and Onboard a New Partner

This metric helps you determine whether your recruitment and onboarding processes need to be reevaluated or streamlined.

7. Total Number of Partner Deals Registered

This metric gives you a picture of the volume of deals your channel partners are able to make.

8. Average Value of Partner Deal

This shows you how effective your partners are in selling your product or service.

9. Percentage of Accepted Partner-Submitted Deals

This is another metric that helps you gauge the success of your channel partners' sales efforts.

10. Percentage of Closed Partner-Submitted Deals

This point is a natural extension of the one above.

11. Average Sales Cycle Length

This metric can help you gauge how effective your partner training is and which partners are particularly effective.

12. Percentage of Partners Who Registered Leads in Past Month or Quarter

This is another key channel sales success metric.

13. Percentage of Partners Using Provided Sales and Marketing Collateral

This metric helps you gauge whether the materials you're providing partners are accessible and effective.

14. Percentage of Partners Who Attend Optional Events and/or Ongoing Training

This metric can help you gauge partner enthusiasm and the effectiveness of your training methods.

15. Average Partner Satisfaction Score

This measure can let you know if you need to tailor your training and support to better suit partner needs.

16. Percentage of Partners Who Attempted Certification

This can tell you whether your partners find your certifications useful and unimposing.

17. Percentage of Partners Who Completed Certification

This metric can tell you whether your certifications are accessible enough.

18. CAC for Each Partner Sale Versus Direct Sale

This helps show you how profitable your channel partner strategy is.

19. Retention Rates for Partner Sales Versus Direct Sales

This shows you whether the relationships developed during your partner sales have staying power.

20. Cross-Sell and Upsell Rates for Partner Sales Versus Direct Sales

This metric shows how effective your channel partners are at generating extra revenue.

Looking for someone to manage your channel partner relationships? You’ll need a channel sales manager. Below, you’ll find a general definition of a channel sales manager, plus a sample job description you can use in a job posting.

Channel Sales Manager Job Description

A channel sales manager works with potential and existing channel partners to drive sales. They typically establish a strategy, help their partners implement it, and work toward a sales quota. The national average salary in the U.S. is $94,358.

Our company is looking for a channel sales manager in [location]. This is an exciting opportunity to [grow a new channel, take a high-growth channel to the next stage]. As our channel sales manager, you’ll identify potential new partners, show them the value of working with us, and enable existing customers to sell our products.

In this role, you will:

  • Work with internal stakeholders (Support, Customer Service, Marketing, Legal, Direct Sales, etc.) to ensure partners have everything they need to successfully resell
  • Ensure partner expectations are being met (or exceeded!)
  • Ensure partners are following agreed-upon guidelines
  • Proactively help partners hit their sales goals/milestones
  • Give demos, virtual presentations, or in-person presentations to potential partners
  • Create demand using tools like marketing collateral, campaigns, webinars, and events
  • Communicate regularly with partners and company stakeholders
  • Travel to customer and partner sites on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis

We’re looking for someone who has:

  • [X to Y] years of relevant experience in consulting or channel sales
  • Experience working in [industry]. It’s a plus if you have established relationships with potential partners
  • Proven record of achieving in sales roles
  • Ability to work autonomously in a fast-paced, technical, and complex sales environment
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • BA/BS required, MBA preferred
  • Ability to travel [X%] of the time

Tailor this job description to your company’s employer branding. If you’re relatively formal, you may need to tweak the language so it’s less casual. If your messaging is typically relaxed and friendly, you might want to turn up the playfulness.

Grow Your Business with Channel Sales

While building a channel sales program is a major investment, it can make a huge difference to your company. Not only will you reach new customers, but you’ll develop mutually beneficial relationships in your industry and grow your revenue as a result.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Topics: Sales Methodology

FAQs

How do you succeed in channel sales? ›

The following are a few ways to stand out from the crowd, build your relationship, and sell more effectively with channel partners.
  1. Take the time. ...
  2. Promote together. ...
  3. Get social. ...
  4. Create a best practices community for channel management.

What is Channel sales example? ›

Channel sales involve middlemen who sell and distribute products. In some ways, you could consider them “indirect sales” since you're not selling them to the consumer directly. An example of a company that uses partner sales is Coca-Cola. You can't buy a Coke from the company's website.

How do you describe a sales channel? ›

A sales channel is the path that a business takes to reach its end customers in order to sell them a product or service, either directly or indirectly. Examples of sales channels include traditional marketplaces, ecommerce, wholesale, mobile apps, and more.

What are the four sales channels? ›

In this article, we'll discuss four common types of sales channels: wholesale, retail (both online and in-store), direct-to-consumer (DTC) and B2B.

How do you drive a channel sales? ›

How to Create a Sales Channel Program
  1. Craft relevant, useful content to attract partners. ...
  2. Focus on the partner's needs. ...
  3. Choose a structure for the channel sales partnership. ...
  4. Motivate your channel sales partners to sell. ...
  5. Communicate often with your partners. ...
  6. Offer extra rewards. ...
  7. Use a sales channel partnership platform.
1 Dec 2021

What is channel strategy? ›

A channel strategy is a vendor's plan for moving a product or a service through the chain of commerce to the end customer.

What is the role of channel sales? ›

Channel sales managers establish and maintain client and partner relationships for the purpose of generating maximum revenue from those accounts. They identify high-value leads and key potential partners and develop strategies for converting those connections into productive and profitable relationships.

What makes a good channel partner? ›

Channel partners will help you grow your business through sales and marketing activities. They must focus on the customer and deliver excellent solutions that deliver true value to the customer. They must be knowledgeable and constantly evolve with the market.

What is channel sales lead? ›

Job Description

Responsible for sim activations at retail outlets. Drive revenue market share. Manage channel partners and field sales executives. Strengthen reach by increasing recharge and sim selling outlets. Ensure product availability with distributors and retailers.

What is direct sales channel? ›

Direct selling is a retail channel used by top global brands and smaller, entrepreneurial companies to market products and services to consumers. Companies market all types of goods and services, including jewelry, cookware, nutritionals, cosmetics, housewares, energy and insurance, and much more.

What is in a sales plan? ›

A sales plan is a business plan that features the development of the company's sales activity with set objectives within a particular time frame. In other words, it's a strategic plan where one specifies sales goals, tactics, challenges, target market and steps you will take to execute the plan.

What is a sales cycle process? ›

Let's break down the seven main stages of the sales cycle: prospecting, making contact, qualifying your lead, nurturing your lead, presenting your offer, overcoming objections, and closing the sale. We've also included one additional bonus step that can help speed this sales cycle up.

What are the different channel strategies for a product? ›

What is a channel strategy?
  • Direct channel: In a direct channel, consumers buy a product or service directly from a company. ...
  • Indirect channel: In an indirect channel, consumers purchase a product or service from an intermediary instead of directly from the company that produced it.
17 May 2021

How can I improve my channel management? ›

How to Create an Improved Channel Management Strategy
  1. Research. To define a good channel management strategy first you need a good research. ...
  2. Choose the Right Partners. ...
  3. Establish Long-Term Relationships. ...
  4. Channel Enablement. ...
  5. Create a Community. ...
  6. Measure and Analyze your Results. ...
  7. Optimize and Keep Improving.
1 Aug 2018

How can you improve sales lead generation? ›

How to Improve Lead Generation. Improve your landing page CTA's through design, copy, and targeting best practices. Improve your landing pages by keeping things clear, simple, and compelling with your headlines, forms, and imagery. Improve your offers by making sure there is one for each phase of the buying cycle.

How do I manage my channel members? ›

5 Rules To Managing Channel Partners
  1. Create a Partner Plan.
  2. Strong and Clear Communication.
  3. Establish Mutual Goals.
  4. A Proper Onboarding process.
  5. Use a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) Tool.
9 Sept 2021

What are the 4 Ps of the channel strategy? ›

The four Ps are the key considerations that must be thoughtfully considered and wisely implemented in order to successfully market a product or service. They are product, price, place, and promotion. The four Ps are often referred to as the marketing mix.

What are channel goals? ›

Channel objectives are based on customer requirements, the marketing strategy, and the company strategy and objectives. However, in cases where a company is just getting started, or an older company is trying to carve out a new market niche, the channel objectives may be the dominant objectives.

What does a Chanel sales manager do? ›

Identify, recruit and on-board new channel partners within assigned territory. Manage sales activities of partners to generate revenue. Coordinate with partners to create and execute business plans to meet sales goals. Analyze market trends and accordingly develop sales plans to increase brand awareness.

How do channel partners grow? ›

Appended are some common and some common yet ignored elements which can transform a partner program into the most thriving channel partner program:
  1. Common Eventual Goals & Realistic KPIs. ...
  2. Clear Communication. ...
  3. Product/ Service Readiness. ...
  4. Proper Processes. ...
  5. Refresher Training. ...
  6. Regular and timely Incentives. ...
  7. Analytics Advantage.
13 Mar 2019

Who does channel sales manager report to? ›

The Channel Manager represents the entire range of company products and services to assigned partners though may focus on a specific solution or product set if focused in a partner vertical market. The Channel Manager reports to the Vice President of Channel Sales.

What are the five steps of channel management process? ›

10.7: The channel management process
  • Analyze the consumer.
  • Establish the channel objectives.
  • Evaluating channel member performance.
  • Correcting or modifying the channel.
9 Aug 2020

What is a channel distribution strategy? ›

A distribution channel strategy evaluates ways to improve the positioning of products to boost demand around them. Your main goal is to find the right customers and locations of demand, in order to speed up the process of connection between products and customers and make it profitable.

Why are channel decisions important? ›

Marketing channel decisions are as important as the decisions companies make about the features and prices of products. Channel partners are firms that actively promote and sell a product as it travels through its channel to its user.

How do you convince customers? ›

7 Tricks to Convince the Client to Buy
  1. Be natural and do not use scripts.
  2. Ask about the clients' well-being.
  3. Use names while talking with a client.
  4. Prove that your products are better than those offered by competitors.
  5. Keep initiating further conversation.
  6. Specify the positive characteristics of the customer.
  7. Act on emotions.
10 Mar 2020

How do I sell a product? ›

Here's your 10-step guide for how to sell a product online.
  1. Find your products. ...
  2. Identify your niche market. ...
  3. Conduct market research. ...
  4. Create buyer personas. ...
  5. Brand your business. ...
  6. Build your e-commerce website. ...
  7. Set up processes for payment, shipping, and staying in touch. ...
  8. Create high-quality product content.

What are the 3 methods of selling? ›

  • Product Selling. Product selling is exactly what it sounds like: selling the advantages or features of a specific product or service. ...
  • Solution Selling. Solution selling goes beyond simply selling products or services. ...
  • Insight Selling.
1 Mar 2017

What is channel partnership strategy? ›

A channel partner strategy is a high-impact solution to marketing and sales that utilizes third-party partners to market your product and company. These partners are then rewarded based on the traffic and sales provided by their referral, affiliate, and reseller programs.

How can I improve my selling partner experience? ›

Clarity, transparency and honest communication are all keys to long-term success. The process to developing a long-term successful partner experience can be envisioned as a three-step journey, according to the CompTIA report: consideration, conversion and commitment.

What are the three types of channel partners? ›

3 Main Types of Channel Partners:
  • Independent Dealers. These are the dealers and retailers that sell your product. ...
  • Distributors. Many companies use distributors to warehouse, transport, and sell their products through dealers, product installers, or to the end customer. ...
  • Independent Sales Representatives.

How do you engage channel partners? ›

Here are 11 ways to engage channel partners to make sure your new marketing programs get the attention and support that they deserve.
  1. Email Campaigns. ...
  2. Internal Site Header or Blog. ...
  3. Hallway and Breakroom Flyers. ...
  4. Display Your Expertise. ...
  5. SMS Notification. ...
  6. Teams, Slack, or Basecamp Posts. ...
  7. Informational Webinars.

What are the two types of marketing channels? ›

Channels are broken into two different forms—direct and indirect. A direct channel allows the consumer to make purchases from the manufacturer while an indirect channel allows the consumer to buy the goods from a wholesaler or retailer.

What is direct selling strategy? ›

Direct selling refers to selling products directly to the consumer in a non-retail environment (i.e. the sales process occurs at home, work, or at another non-store location). In fact, many home-based businesses incorporate direct selling to connect with consumers.

How do channel members add value? ›

Marketing channel members buy large quantities from many producers and break them down into the smaller quantities and broader assortments wanted by consumers. In general, channel members add value by bridging the major time, place, and possession gaps that separate goods and services from those who would use them.

What are the 4 selling strategies? ›

There are essentially four selling strategies: script-based selling, needs-satisfaction selling, consultative selling, and strategic partnering.

What are the 5 sales strategies? ›

5 Sales Strategies for Businesses
  • Define your buyer.
  • Tell a story.
  • Target a niche market.
  • Sell your brand.
  • Focus on internal growth.

What does a good sales process look like? ›

A sales process is a set of repeatable steps that a sales person takes to take a prospective buyer from the early stage of awareness to a closed sale. Typically, a sales process consists of 5-7 steps: Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up.

What is the 7 step sales process? ›

There are seven common steps to the selling process: prospecting, preparation, approach, presentation, handling objections, closing and follow-up.

What is channel structure? ›

the way in which a network of participating intermediaries is constructed in the delivery chain to perform the required activities to achieve an organisation's distribution goals and objectives.

What makes a good channel partner? ›

Channel partners will help you grow your business through sales and marketing activities. They must focus on the customer and deliver excellent solutions that deliver true value to the customer. They must be knowledgeable and constantly evolve with the market.

What is the role of a channel sales manager? ›

The Channel Sales Manager is responsible for sales enablement of their assigned channel, and managing their channel to achieve stated sales targets.

What is the function of a channel sales representative? ›

This job collaborates with clients to drive channel sales (i.e. agents, exchanges, FMOs, telesales, etc.) through prospecting and existing business all while ensuring positive relationships are maintained. Assists in the preparation of reports, meeting materials and/or sales collateral, pre and post AEP.

What makes a good channel strategy? ›

A channel strategy is all about selecting the marketing touchpoints that match your target audience's needs and habits. As you choose your channels, be sure to analyze competitors' strategies, continually research your target audience, set and track goals for each channel, and follow each channel's own best practices.

What are channel goals? ›

Channel objectives are based on customer requirements, the marketing strategy, and the company strategy and objectives. However, in cases where a company is just getting started, or an older company is trying to carve out a new market niche, the channel objectives may be the dominant objectives.

What are the five steps of channel management process? ›

10.7: The channel management process
  • Analyze the consumer.
  • Establish the channel objectives.
  • Evaluating channel member performance.
  • Correcting or modifying the channel.
9 Aug 2020

What is channel partnership strategy? ›

A channel partner strategy is a high-impact solution to marketing and sales that utilizes third-party partners to market your product and company. These partners are then rewarded based on the traffic and sales provided by their referral, affiliate, and reseller programs.

How can I improve my selling partner experience? ›

Clarity, transparency and honest communication are all keys to long-term success. The process to developing a long-term successful partner experience can be envisioned as a three-step journey, according to the CompTIA report: consideration, conversion and commitment.

What are the three types of channel partners? ›

3 Main Types of Channel Partners:
  • Independent Dealers. These are the dealers and retailers that sell your product. ...
  • Distributors. Many companies use distributors to warehouse, transport, and sell their products through dealers, product installers, or to the end customer. ...
  • Independent Sales Representatives.

What are the 4 channels of distribution? ›

There are four types of distribution channels that exist: direct selling, selling through intermediaries, dual distribution, and reverse logistics channels. Each of these channels consist of institutions whose goal is to manage the transaction and physical exchange of products.

What is a channel sales executive? ›

A sales channel marketing executive is the executive in charge overseeing channel management teams and actions. Channel management, which is not a priority in all businesses, is the process in business where formalized programs are created in an effort to sell and service clients on specific sales channels.

Who does channel sales manager report to? ›

The Channel Manager represents the entire range of company products and services to assigned partners though may focus on a specific solution or product set if focused in a partner vertical market. The Channel Manager reports to the Vice President of Channel Sales.

How do you manage sales team and distribution channels? ›

Designing and implementing a winning go-to-market strategy
  1. Shape your go-to-market strategy through "channel stewardship"
  2. Develop an overarching strategy that guides the activities of the entire channel.
  3. Align your channel value chain to coordinate your partners' efforts and manage conflicts.

What is direct sales strategy? ›

Direct selling refers to selling products directly to the consumer in a non-retail environment (i.e. the sales process occurs at home, work, or at another non-store location). In fact, many home-based businesses incorporate direct selling to connect with consumers.

How do channel partners make money? ›

Think of a channel partner as an extension of your sales team. They resell, manage, and/or deliver your product, helping you (the company or vendor) go to market faster. They make money through referral fees and/or by selling complementary services like consulting, training, and customer support.

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