ESR estimates that 70% of all goods and services are sold via third-party sales channels, not direct sales. Our ongoing examination of sales training programs shows a significant disparity, with most training and content focused on field sales personnel, not channel managers.
We understand that channel managers need significant sales skills, a deep operational and financial understanding of their channel partners' businesses and management and leadership skills. All of this doesn't come easy. Putting a successful salesperson into a channel management role, a common practice in the companies we've researched, is not the answer. I went that route earlier in my career. Eventually, I learned what was required to get the job done, the key word being "eventually."
More recently, ESR has performed sales effectiveness audits on companies with traditional direct sales people in channel management roles. Without mentioning company names, let me just state this: it doesn't work.
Channel Enablers, a recognized leader in this arena, is a global consultancy and training company focused entirely on channel management. We know the principals, and although ESR has not formally covered the firm, we believe they've got the breadth, depth, experience and track record to make a significant difference in the largest global corporations.
I was given a demo last week of a powerful channel management business simulation tool. Eleven-year-old NewLeaf Partners provides the content: a sales, business acumen and value selling curriculum. Stratascope provides the technology, a research portal and business simulation platform.
I was taken through precisely how these business partners ingrain business reality into the minds of a company's channel managers.
The importance and reality of live simulation applications are clear to me. I'm a pilot, and at least once a year I spend two hours on a simulator. It's more of a learning experience than actually flying my plane.
I was interested in seeing how the simulator provided learning and support in responding to unplanned events. Issues like project scope creep, unexpected rises in transportation costs, DSO spikes and the loss of a support person were all deftly presented as challenges for students to overcome.
NewLeaf and Stratascope are involved with Cisco and other companies that are leaders in the area of channels management.
Of course during these days of travel budgets being cut, the simulation is an attractive consideration.
I'd like to chat with you if your company either has the channel management discipline figured out or is looking for guidance.
Photo credit: © Isaiah Shook - Fotolia.com
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