Nurturing Relationships – The Foundation of a Strong Channel Sales Partnership

Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

We live in a connected world; hence, involving everyone and ensuring holistic growth is imperative when seeking success for your organisation. Channel sales management is an integral part that leaders can pay special attention to. It is instrumental in an organisation’s growth and success.

Why should we do channel sales management?

For most organisations, channel sales partners provide two kinds of support – emotional and financial. On the emotional side, a good partner is a solid support for the sales and marketing teams. Partners can build the groundwork for several salespeople, making their lives easy. Hence, the sales teams should dedicate significant time and energy to nurturing the relationship with the channel sales partner.

The relationship between the channel sales partner and the organisations is a two-way street. Things must work out as a win-win for both parties to ensure the partnership grows. Here are some aspects that have played a vital role for many organisations:

1. Responsibilities of the Principal organizations:

While working with some of the most successful organisational leaders, I have observed that the relationship of the organisations with the channel sales partner is similar to one’s personal life. If you have noticed, we sometimes grow out of relationships and friendships. The kind of people we like to mingle with at different stages of life are very different. That is because people evolve. It is the same in the professional relationship with channel sales partners. Organisations play a massive role in retaining the interest of the channel sales partners. Principal organisations need to work persistently for their partners to grow and evolve. The leaders must check from time to time to ensure that the channel sales partners are on the same page. Finding channel sales partners who fit their needs has often helped organisations remain aligned.

2. Responsibilities of the Channel Sales Partner:

Channel partners will become irrelevant if they stop updating themselves with the changes in the industry. When a partner is paired up with others of the same category, insecurities can build up. Channel partners, if they get too comfortable with an organisation and stop evolving, the chances of them failing miserably in their pursuit is high. Just like it is for the organisation, the channel partner is responsible for nurturing the relationships.

Challenges in Maintaining Partnerships with the Channel Partners:

1. Lucrative opportunities for Channel Partners:

Imagine you associate with a new channel sales partner in the market. You give them the opportunity and platform to grow. They eventually learn everything they need for their growth. But what you forget is to nurture the relationship. They find lucrative offers and move on; you lose an essential entity. This is more common than you think.

2. Differences among the senior leadership team:

Senior leaders often tarnish the partnership when they fail to make the channel partners feel included. A leadership team that does not value the channel partners will eventually find itself in a situation it regrets. Mutual respect is the key.

3. Lack of awareness about the current happenings:

This can be the fault of either party. If the channel sales partner needs to be more knowledgeable and take regular updates from the organisation on what is happening, their chances of becoming irrelevant grow. Similarly, if companies leave the channel partner out of the critical updates, there can be a significant gap, leading to massive miscommunication.

4 pillars of channel sales Management
4 Pillars of Channel Sales Management

What can business leaders do?

1. Inspire partners:

Ask yourself two simple questions. Are you constantly motivating the channel partners and encouraging them to obtain their optimum potential? Are they excited to do business with you, or are they doing it just for the sake of it? Professional relationships are delicate and need extra care. You can’t just onboard a partner and leave them to figure out the rest. Partnership comes with specific responsibilities, and you are their primary bearer. In my experience, keeping in touch with the partners and making them feel connected and motivated goes a long way toward success.

2. Channel centricity:

Like your in-house employees, your channel sales partners also need help with several issues—untimely payments, a rift with an in-house employee or client, etc. What is essential here is to hear them. They should know you are willing to help and support them through crises. This is just like we do for our relationships. We tend to them, understand their needs, and try to help the people we care about.

3. Good levels of relationship with the network:

Maintaining excellent relationships with your network can be helpful when building channel sales relationships. The partners help add clientele to your portfolio. Even if they are not associated directly with you, instilling a sense of goodwill can ensure your success. The bonds you build in your early days help your network build a perception of you.

4. Building trust in the network:

Your word of mouth, work, and how you treat and behave with your employees and channel partners speak for you. With so much digital presence, it is easy to flag an issue within an organisation. Your ethics and values should place you in high regard. How your network of distributors trusts you ensures your ability to maintain a healthy relationship with your channel partners.

In my years of working with successful leaders, I have observed that organisations don’t reap the benefits they dream of when they use channel partnerships for financial gains alone. When organisations value year-long relationships and pay respect to the trust built, the results are favourable. The trick of a great channel sales partnership lies in how you nurture the partners and their relationships with them. The foundation lies in building sustainable relationships while focusing on business development.

As the famous Michael Jordan said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Be the one who makes channel sales partnerships pave the path to success.

Want to know more about building an effective channel sales partnership? Write to me at [email protected]