Channel Call

Getting Enablement in Gear

Last month, I outlined several areas where resellers and ISVs need to focus in order to create highly efficient and productive channels. There are three main "gears" to power channels: multi-directional and collaborative partner relationship management, full-service demand generation and extremely efficient enablement. This time I'll focus on the enablement gear, because training and providing a platform for continued success in selling a solution is paramount to revenue on a day-in-day-out basis.

Enablement has many definitions. Often, enablement is categorized as "training" -- and more often, unfortunately, vendors take a reactive approach on this front. They create good videos, online courses and other certification mechanisms, but they fail to proactively and consistently push the resellers.

I see this starting to change as some partner programs are creating levels based on certifications as opposed to revenue bars. The correlation is simple: The more certifications you have, the more likely you are to drive revenue.

This is a good start. But truly successful channels will create, deliver and continually enable their partners and resellers on a daily, per-deal basis. This is especially difficult to do when resellers have multiple products from multiple vendors in their portfolio. Quite frankly, it's almost impossible to do right, and what ends up happening is that resellers either miss sales opportunities or miss selling more of a solution to a customer, because they were either not aware of a complementary product or uneducated -- through no fault of their own -- on a complete product line.

This problem gets even worse with complex product suites or newer technologies (think cloud-based) that may require more solution selling than transaction-based selling. So, what can you do to be more proactive, enable quicker sales across multiple products and provide a platform so the reseller doesn't miss opportunities? And, also, make it simple and not time-consuming for the reseller?

The key is simplicity and ease of use, and there are some tools that can help. Group Intelligence provides a compelling solution called Solutionize for the enablement channel gear. The company's solution fills the gap that's created when channels fail to adequately enable their resellers. In short, Solutionize is cloud-based and it schematically lets the sales rep easily outline all the components of an opportunity by prompting the rep. It's simple and proactive.

The second key is that reps can use the tool on every deal -- therefore, they're continually being enabled and not missing selling and cross-selling opportunities. Third, the solution prompts for best practices in solution selling. The overall benefit is that a reseller can immediately start using this enablement approach without waiting to acquire all the necessary knowledge to sell a product. Historically, resellers would delay selling a product or solution because they didn't feel ready, either for lack of knowledge or lack of confidence. Taking these two barriers down then makes it rather easy for a reseller to immediately start engaging prospects, which means a quicker path to pipeline, which equates to faster deals, and which ultimately means more revenue for everyone.

Enablement is extraordinarily critical, and with the advent of cloud computing, it becomes even more important to get right. An uneducated or confused reseller can't adequately sell a vendor's product line. If you're a reseller, closely examine what your vendor is doing on the enablement front and make sure their strategy for getting you productive is proactive, consistent and easy. If you're a vendor (ISV), make sure you put in place a program that focuses on the productivity of your resellers. To do this, you should leverage the cloud and be laser-focused on making it simple for resellers to sell your solution.

Next Time: Partner Relationship Management Systems

About the Author

Keith Lubner is managing partner of Channel Consulting Corp., a N.J.-based global consulting organization focused on channel strategy, design, enablement, outsourcing and training for growing companies.