Not everyone automatically “gets” your product. That’s a pipe dream. When selling through a distribution partner, you need to make sure that you address the fundamental questions that your partner’s sales people have about your product before you even have a chance of success. But not proactively addressing and communicating the answers to these questions will lead to great disappointment on your part. The trick is to address these questions and their answers in a broad communication across the entire partner sales organization in a way that lets the sales person ask the questions on their own terms and in their own time frames. In other words, allowing each sales person to research your product and get answers to these questions when they are ready. Here are some critical questions all sales people have about a potential partner’s product:
- Why did my company do this deal and what are we trying to accomplish?
- What problem does your product solve?
- Why would my customer care?
- Why is this better than the alternative?
- What are the customer benefits?
- How does this make my sales efforts better? (Does this help me sell more of my own product? Does this make us more competitive? Does this broaden our product offering?)
- How do I make money?
- Is this worth my time and effort compared to other things I can do and sell?
- What objections am I likely to get and how do I address them? (Objections can be cognitive, resource, political, motivational, risk or feature oriented)
- What risks are there to me in selling this? (Is this going to create customer support problems? Am I attracting the ire of some other organization that I want to avoid?)
- Who am I competing with and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
- How do I win? (What is the effort required and the benefit to me?)
The best way to address these questions is through a partner portal that the sales person can log into and learn when they are ready. The partner portal should have all the relevant information a sales person should need to successfully sell your product. This includes sales materials (like presentations, price lists and FAQ’s), marketing materials (like brochures, white papers, competitive analysis) and implementation issues (like implementation plans and SOW’s). A great add to the partner portal might be a document with the above questions specifically listed as well as the answers to these questions. This is probably the most obvious item that should be included, but rarely is.
The most critical issue is actually having a partner portal to begin with. Most organizations do not have the simple discipline to offer a partner portal to their partner’s sales organization. This is counter to the adage: “Hope is not a strategy”, since you are then hoping that the partner sales organization picks up your product knowledge by osmosis.
Having a partner support page and putting the right information in it can be the difference between success and failure. And, if you are counting on partner sales to help you company succeed, it is a requirement. Answering the above 12 questions with clarity is a must for partner success. Do it or expect to be disappointed.