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If you would like to increase channel revenue by 30% in the next year, how many clones of your No. 1 channel partner sales representative would you need? I’ll bet that it’s a surprisingly small number.
Keeping these people top-of-mind is important—that is, if you know who they are.
A few years ago I was called in to help a CEO work through a tough situation. Two of his sales reps had resigned abruptly. My main concern—that these two reps would pilfer his end customers—proved not to be an issue. He had non-compete agreements in place, and his attorney was quick to remind these two sales reps of their contractual obligations.
Score one for thinking ahead.
However, he did have another problem. Aside from these two departed employees, nobody else in his company knew the channel partner sales reps, the people who “owned” the customer accounts. Sure, there was a CRM record with names, but that was it.
Besides getting his Xanax prescription refilled, my client needed to shore up some long-ignored, important relationships.
Here’s what we put in place:
LinkedIn became our principal tool. In fact, we got maniacal about LinkedIn. We invented ways to introduce support team members to channel partners, and at the appropriate time, say, after a webinar, request LinkedIn connections.
We mounted a leaderboard in the sales area with the names of our monthly Top-10 channel sales reps. At our weekly sales meetings we got a current snapshot from accounts receivable along with some simple trend data.
We also made a game of keeping the CRM updated with channel sales rep information in addition to the usual name, rank and email address. In the course of normal conversation, we asked for details including:
• quota (We wanted to know the percentage that our products contributed to their overall number.)
• birthday (We sent birthday greetings. No one else does this.)
• LinkedIn groups
• social media identities on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
• spouse, children
Since we were only tracking 10 people, the burden was tiny. And after a little while, it added a new dimension to our business relationships.
I suppose you could say we were stalking our channel sales reps—and to a certain degree we were.
The payoff? Obvious.
John Fox is CMO of Venture Marketing. He’s currently blogging his way through his popular book: 99 Questions to Jump Start Your Partner Channel Brain.
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