5 Ways Manufacturers Can Increase Channel Sales
Channel sales are a uniquely challenging sales process. As a manufacturing company that works with channel sales partners, you create a product, but you’re indirectly responsible for selling it. It’s a weird way to sell, no matter how you look at it. How can you increase channel sales if you have little to no control over the actual sales themselves?
Luckily, the channel sales process has been around forever. While it is a unique — and sometimes frustrating for you, the manufacturer — process, there are plenty of actions you can take to increase channel sales, even when you’re not the one making the sales.
Let’s look at 5 ways manufacturers can increase channel sales by improving relationships with channel partners, and making it easier for them to sell your products:
01. Develop a Solid Onboarding Process
First impressions are important. Channel sales are all about relationships, and that starts with your manufacturing company’s first impression. How you onboard new channel partners has a big impact on your bottom line. How, you ask?
- Well-onboarded channel partners start selling faster
- Channel partners who understand your products sell them better
- A quality onboarding process sets you up for a quality relationship with that partner
The more supported your channel partners feel, the more comfortable they will be asking questions and learning about your products. In turn, they’ll take all of that knowledge to their customers. The bottom line? More channel sales for you.
Start developing an onboarding process that makes it easy for channel partners:
- To get to know your product
- To contact their local representative with any questions
- To get selling!
And remember, channel sales are all about relationships. While a solid onboarding process gets you off on the right foot with new partners, make sure you have plenty of resources to support them once they’re fully onboarded. Which brings me to my next point:
02. Make Resources Available and Easy to Find
As a manufacturer, you probably develop a technical product. It does something great for someone, and you know how great it is, but your channel partners might not.
Make it easy for them to learn and understand the difference your products make in the lives of their customers.
I wrote a blog on Channel Sales Strategies for Manufacturers that offers some in-depth suggestions on how to develop and promote resources that will help you channel partners sell better.
If you haven’t yet, or don’t want to check that out, let me summarize here:
Create marketing and sales enablement content that make it easy for your channel partners to promote and sell your products. When you’re spoon-feeding them beautiful social media graphics or helpful pricing sheets, it’s hard to say no.
Imagine a customer is asking your channel partner for a pricing sheet.
They could create their own, or they could just hand over the one that’s already been completed and beautifully designed — yours.
The easier it is for your channel partners’ marketing and sales teams to talk about you, the more likely they are to do it. If it looks good, and it makes them look good to their customers, they’re going to want to use it. And all of that great content you’re creating — sales resources, marketing collateral, etc. — is working to promote your brand and close more channel sales.
03. Build Solid Relationships with Channel Partners
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right?
The more involved you are with your channel partners, the more invested they will be in your products.
I like to use a term I call “pleasantly persistent.”
You don’t need to bug your partners constantly asking for status updates, but do what you can to check in regularly.
Ask how their day is going, how those new resources you sent over are working, and if there’s anything you can do to support them.
The more helpful you are, the more likely your partners are going to want to help you, and the more likely they are to remember your products the next time they’re talking to a customer.
I’ve already said it a few times in this blog — channel sales are all about relationships. The more supported your partners feel by you, the more they feel like, “yeah, those guys over at X Manufacturing rock!”, the more likely they are to sell your products.
Do what you can to build solid relationships with channel partners. Sure, that might be an appreciation dinner or conference every year, but it’s also equally — if not more — effective, to just reach out and see how they’re doing.
04. Help Them Help You With Cross-Promotion
Cross-promotion helps to get the word out about both of your companies. For manufacturers specifically, cross-promotion is a great way to increase channel sales. Let’s take a look at how it works:
You, a manufacturer of a product (and likely a big name) agree to do a combined marketing campaign with one of your channel partners.
Your channel partner gets a big brand boost from being associated with you — the industry-leading manufacturer of whatever it is you manufacture.
They want to be associated with you because you’re the best at what you do.
You get the benefit of promotion from that channel partner, as well as every other channel partner you’re running a cross-promotion campaign with.
Since it’s likely that these channel partners all work with slightly different people in slightly different markets, you’re expanding the reach of your brand exponentially. Depending on your products and your partners, you could be reaching entirely different industries and markets of consumers who may have never heard of you before.
It’s a win-win for both you and your channel partners. You get the expanded reach (which means increased channel sales), and your partners get the clout (which also means increased channel sales for you). When they do well, you do well.
05. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Especially when you’re in the manufacturing industry and working with channel partners, it’s so much more cost-effective to retain your existing partners than it is to find new partners. Manufacturing is a small world. It costs a lot to find a new partner, and there aren’t actually all that many of them out there. So, when you get good channel partners — invest in them.
This isn’t too much different than what I’ve been preaching through this entire blog, but it bears repeating: supply the resources and the support your channel partners need to feel successful.
The easier you make it for them to learn about your products, get excited about your brand, and ask questions when they have them, the easier it will be for them to sell you to their clients.
Talk to your channel partners and ask them what they’d love to see from you.
- What would help them sell more?
- Are there resources or content that would make it easier for them to close deals?
- Is there sales support your team could offer?
- Are there marketing materials they’d like to reuse or reproduce?
The more you deliver for them, the more they’re going to want to sell you.
Channel sales is easily one of the most challenging sales processes out there. For manufacturers especially, it can feel like you have little control over where your products are going, and when they’re being sold. But by playing an active role in the lives of your channel partners, by getting involved and truly supporting them on a personal level, you’ll start to gain back some of that control, and see the increase in channel sales you’re looking for.
If you’re struggling to increase channel sales at your manufacturing company, Evenbound has worked with a number of manufacturers and industrial companies to improve and streamline channel sales. We’d be happy to help you too.