Five Myths about the Indirect Model

In a previous posting I talked about Five Myths for the direct sales force. This posting will discuss five major misconceptions about the indirect channel (reseller, distributors, partners and etc.).

 Five major indirect channel misconceptions:

 1-      Partners, resellers, etc. are all alike. Nothing could be further from the truth! The major impression is that most indirect channels carry vendor’s products, do some form of telemarketing and just take orders. In reality resellers come in thousands of kinds and types.  From pure distributors, to value added resellers, to system integrators.  Many resellers not only know the products and/or services better then the vendor; they usually have very knowledgeable sales people with solid long-lasting relationships with their customers.

 2-      The indirect channel is only interested in pricing for products and /or services. While everyone is in business to make a profit; the indirect channel is equally interested in areas such as marketing programs, territory alignment, training, technical support and LEADS!  And like all good businessmen, they recognize the positive nature of continuing relationships with key customers.

 3-      Your channel programs can be applied to all resellers/partners equally.  If you believe this then you are in for some very rough times with your resellers. Again resellers come in different forms. Some are product oriented, others specialize in services, while others focus on certain type of industry applications.  Therefore one needs to tune each program   for each different type of partner (reseller, distributor, etc.).

 4-      Indirect channel partners only know how to sell. Just like myth number 2, channel partners can and do have many capabilities. Again usually each has one or two major strength capabilities, so make sure you know what they are when selecting a indirect channel partner such that their strengths matches with your distribution strategy.

 5-      Indirect channels do not need much care and feeding after the initial start up. This is like the myth of the direct sales force that “loves them and then leaves them” but coming from the other direction.  Probably the worst thing you can do is to ignore your indirect channel. Take this approach and see how long your partners last with you. Make sure you have sales people who know how to manage and support your indirect channel.  The most successful companies have channel partners who have been with them for years.

 In summary, noting that the indirect channels are actually more complicated then the direct channel, one should make absolutely certain that the partners/resellers you select match your strategy. Next, depending on why you selected the appropriate partner, make sure that your partner programs meet your and your partner’s needs. Lastly make it a partnership relationship not just a business relationship!

  Have you thanked your channel partners today?

RHL 01/12/10

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