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Poor performing sales reps equalling poor company performance? Where sales enablement breaks down

By Andrew Ward By Andrew Ward Oct 03, 2013 hints, tips, advice, articles
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Research showing where your sales enablement is likely to be breaking down.

For many businesses the performance of their company will directly correlate to the performance of their sales people; whether direct employees or the sales reps that are selling their products and services from within the channel.

Enabled personnel better represent your brand and products and are likely to be more successful at each and every stage of the sales process generating and converting more business while also reducing miss-selling costs.

Our white paper titled ‘Maximising business from high performing partner channels - Enabled. Motivated. Progressive.’ explores in detail the five key steps and the actions necessary under each step to successfully achieve sales rep enablement; awareness, motivation, skills, convinced and equipped.

Five simple steps but all too companies still fail to successfully enable their sales representatives. Research completed by IDC, as detailed by B2B Marketing Directions, highlighted that 26% of business buyers said their sales reps were unprepared for the initial sales meeting, and 31% of buyers described the sales reps as somewhat prepared. Only 43% of buyers rated their sales reps as very or extremely prepared for the initial meeting.

So where does sales enablement mostly breakdown?

To obtain a wider view the following question was posted to the users of a channel partners community group on a business social media networking site:

When launching a new product to channel partners where does sales rep enablement mostly breakdown?

  1. Poor awareness of new within the channel
  2. Inadequate skills & competency training
  3. Motivation & incentivisation is lacking
  4. Reps not convinced versus alternatives
  5. Reps poorly equipped for sales process

 

The following bar chart illustrates the percentage of results against each of the five answers provided:

Enablement_Research_Graph

The votes from those participating indicated that there are different views of where sales enablement breaks down. No one single area stands out from any of the others asked. The results of the poll appears to point to an approach of equal focus being required on all five areas if sales enablement is to be achieved and business results maximised.  It also shows that currently companies are experiencing their sales enablement breaking down across the different areas also implying that no single one of these areas has been perfected by all companies either. Of those polled they seem to be experiencing less of a breakdown in the areas of motivation & incentives and equipping their sales team versus the other three areas.

Scorchsoft believe that all five areas must be equally applied if sellers are to be truly enabled. If anyone of the areas is lacking enablement isn't complete and is likely to result in non-optimal results.

 

Consistently enable performing sales reps and channel partners:

Scorchsoft Marketing Services will work with you we will create the plan and actions necessary to consistently enable your sales reps and channel partners so that they are truly enabled to deliver the very best business results. For further detail please contact us – Scorchsoft Marketing Services maximising business from high performing partner channels - Enabled. Motivated. Progressive.

 

Valuable supporting comments:

There were many very valuable comments and personal opinions from participating members of the channel partner group that reflected upon the question raised. Included below are those we felt really contribute to the review of where sales enablement breaks down:

 

Business Development/Consulting/Sales/Marketing Leader:

“I believe that all of your insights are spot on! Spent a large part of my career in Channel Sales. Agree with and have seen/heard the IDC and Savo insights you mentioned above. But it goes even farther, CompTIA conducted a survey and found:

  • Less than 5% of channel partners regularly use vendor portals
  • Only 17% open Vendor emails, 2% click or take any action
  • Information is usually sent to and filtered by a “Vendor Champion” (doesn't reach sales reps, marketing and technical teams directly)
  • Partners/Reps who do use Vendor programs are the most successful and profitable
  • 85-90% of Channel professionals own a smartphone, tablet or both and use them regularly for business

Most Channel Sales Reps on the move. They deal with at least 10-20 primary vendors and distributors, each sending information about their programs, incentives, Webinars, certifications, events and so much more. Bottom line, it is impossible for partners to continually keep up and absorb key vendor information.

There’s no easy way to constantly review all of the vendor portals, read all the newsletters or emails — decide what is important — and then notify the people in their organization who need to know.”

 

IT & Services Global Alliances Manager:

“This is a great question, from my experience as a Channel Partner in Microsoft and Oracle I would say that most comments are on the right track. James point of view though describes the essence of how channel sales work. It takes more than informing the Channel Sales through Portals, webinars and events. What i used to do as an ISV Evangelist and Channel Manager it would be to prioritize the Partners (bigger companies and influencers) that the new products would be more appealing, made 1-1 introduction and Value Proposition for each Partner, only at C-Level. After engaging with C-Level and define targets then i would go down to Channel Reps. Channel Reps need incentive, they need to meet targets and have limited time to devote to training. So simple messages and how to resell products is enough. Usually the rest of the market will follow because of webinars or are being influenced by big players. Bear in mind that even the Channel Managers from the vendor perspective they need to be very well educated on new products and they need to embrace them. This is not always the case.”

 

VP Sales Telecommunications & Unified Communications:

“This is a great question and one that has been asked for years. I tend to agree with all of the previous comments but want to take one step back. Most company's when launching a new product never complete the introduction package highlighting the value proposition or the benefit for the client. My years in managing Channel Sales has benefitted from using the KISS method for Sales Reps. Provide them with a simple message and show them how they can make money and sales reps can do a wonderful job. Remember the value of using channels in the first place is to get a message out to the targeted market as fast as possible, channels/sales reps are an excellent avenue. But keep the message simple and on target!!!”

 

Director of Channel Sales at Security Company:

“This is a great topic and I am in agreement with the points made, which would lead one to believe it is a combination of everything, and a lot of it breaks down to the relationship you have with the sales reps you deal with. Granted when launching into a distribution environment, there is a much broader sales force, so you have to find your "champions" and know the target market. One point under motivation...if you do not have a relationship with the sales reps, they may like your product and feel it is a better solution, but may be more motivated by a competitor's incentive program...sad but true, and I am sure most have seen that battle.”

 

Telecom Expert at Telecom company:

“Coming from an Agent's perspective there are many reasons why a "new" offering gets our attention or doesn't get our attention.

Alternatives is certainly a major one but there are many others just as common.

A- The product may not be a fit for the Agent's sphere of influence/client base so success will come very slowly or possibly never.

B- The product because of technical complexities or other variables might be a great opportunity but if the sales cycle is deemed to be 6 months to 2 years not every Agency is in the position of waiting that long.

C- Quotas for the Agency that are only realistic for Large Agencies that have Large #s of Sub-agents, Appointment setters, Sales Reps etc.”

 

Inside Sales Representative: 

“It is 100% the reps responsibility to to know the product and appreciate the opportunities working w/ the channel partners. It's a win win for the channel partner, the sales rep and the client.

It is also the responsibility of the company that launches the new product to educate and train the reps! For a successful rep, motivation comes from within one self, if given the proper tools to succeed.”

 

Strategic Alliances, Corporate Partnering, and Market Development Expert:

“Great question I agree! But I picked "Reps not convinced versus alternatives". From my experience you have to sell the reps first, gain their mind share and confidence that your new product will be attractive to customers and make them money. If you meet that criteria, they will be coming to you demanding training, collateral, leads, etc.”

 

Scorchsoft Marketing Services – Maximising business from high performing partner channels - Enabled. Motivated. Progressive.

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