Most sales operations and marketing professionals can agree that it is difficult to address and support the ongoing needs of sales teams. But when it comes to a globally dispersed channel partner network, sales enablement is even more demanding. Here we look at the particular set of challenges associated with channel sales enablement:
1. Defining Channel Sales Enablement
No two companies approach channel sales enablement alike. Sales enablement, its efforts, its resources, and even its definition significantly varies from company to company. The responsibility of sales enablement may lie in the hands of sales, marketing, or product teams. In HubSpot’s infographic, survey respondents identified 9 different sales enablement tasks:
- Develops strategy
- Creates materials and assets
- Systems and support
- Sales training
- Performs analysis
- Integrates new channels
- Finds cross-selling opportunities
- Coaches members
- Onboards sales staff
Salesforce, a cloud-based CRM software solution, also conducted research on the definition of sales enablement. The company concluded:
“… that sales enablement is a collection of tasks and tools that are intended to improve the execution of key sales activities—activities like making sales calls, pursuing opportunities, managing major accounts, and targeting top prospects.”
Additionally, Salesforce categorized these sales enablement tools and tasks to fall into 4 buckets:
- Recruiting and hiring
- Training and coaching
To overcome this challenge, look to define what sales enablement is and the responsibilities it entails at your organization. Otherwise, there will be a disconnect between sales and sales enablement teams.
2. Channel Partner Training Engagement
“Training” was a definition used for sales enablement by both Salesforce’s and HubSpot’s survey respondents. However, training channel partners is met with a particular set of challenges. In particular, not every channel partner is engaged with channel training programs. Yet, the level of channel partner engagement with a training program is the key predictor of both partner loyalty and sales productivity.
One of the main reasons for a lack of engagement is the dispersed network of channel partners. Regions, territories, products, industries, and roles must all be considered in the approach to channel network training. Increase channel partner engagement by explaining the effectiveness of training and its impact on sales initiatives.
3. Using and Accessing Content
In another HubSpot survey, research revealed that most companies feel they do a fine job providing a central asset library for sales teams. However, the same respondents struggle to find out whether sales teams are actually using the central library.
When sales teams use an asset library, oftentimes it isn’t used efficiently. It can take large amounts of time to find the right content for each step of the selling process. Seismic points out that searching for content is exacerbated in channel sales. In fact, some salespeople who can’t find the correct content will distribute the wrong content or even begin to create their own unique materials.
If your channel sales team struggles to locate or effectively try some creative ways to make sure your content actually gets used. You may want to consider arming your sales team with content specifically written to address client needs.
4. Channel Program Alignment
Channel training and incentive programs don’t always align. In truth, these two factors should always relate to one another. Channel incentive programs should exist to achieve mutual goals and align channel sales strategies. The majority of channel incentive programs are based on post-sales rewards. These incentives are usually in the form of sales performance incentive fund (SPIF) programs.
Yet, incentive program rewards are sometimes just created for the sake of having rewards. This is the opposite of what incentive programs should do. Instead, design incentive programs to motivate channel partners. This incentive program architecture increases mindshare and channel sales. Match training goals to incentives and rewards. Facilitate a conversation between training and incentive stakeholders to further successful alignment.
Learn how channel network training teams are overcoming training challenges with our free ebook: Training Channel Partners: How To Deliver Excellent (And Measurable) Training in Today’s Channel Partner Network.