The sales aligment narrative
Vendors and their solution provider partners are equally responsible in establishing and maintaining sales alignment.
It seems just about everywhere you go these days vendors are reminding their solution provider partners how critical it is to align their sales efforts with one another. Otherwise, the direct sales force of the vendor is likely to step on the toes of the salespeople working on behalf of the resellers, which almost always winds up ending badly for all concerned.
Of course, this is only really an issue for vendors that have large direct sales teams. But for all the talk about alignment, there hasn’t been much in the way of real best practices to help vendors and their channel partners align their respective sales efforts.
In this regard, here are some insights worth sharing. The first is, of course, vendors should put a “hard deck” in place that actually means something. That means the accounts its direct sales force is targeting are clearly identified and communicated to all partners. That doesn’t mean resellers won’t be invited to participate in a sales deal involving in one of those accounts, but solution providers that go after deals in this space without keeping their vendor partner informed do so at their own risk.
But beyond establishing the rules of engagement, it’s incumbent on the vendors to reach out to their solution provider partners to show them the alignment of their respective sales efforts actually mean something to them.
At regional level, I know some vendors have created what they call “blitz days” where it invites solution providers in for a few days to leverage their inside sales team to go after certain classes of customers. Such initiatives not only help both vendor and partner to win deals jointly, but can go a long way in creating trust and contributing to the revenue number the two parties are trying to achieve during the blitz.
In addition, it’s worth noting that a vendor that makes available a broad range of online marketing tools, access to free demo equipment and personal sales coaching is more likely to win over more partners that would be willing to align their sales efforts with that of the vendor.
In return, what such an approach leads to is business partners committing to co-developing business plans and developing their own lead generation strategies.
None of this, of course, goes beyond the realm of common channel sense. But given all the focus these days on sales alignment in the channel, it would appear that a lot of that common sense is, for the moment, in very short supply.