Dr. Michael Pass at California State University San Marcos found that "The sales performance associated with principals in effective working relationships was 15% greater than the goals set with these principals. In contrast, the sales performance associated with principals in the ineffective working relationships fell 10.5% below the goals set with those principals." Effective relationships can and do result in real revenue and real profits for all parties!
As a principal you need to ask: "How can I get my agents to devote more time to selling my products/services?" Let’s face it you’re not going to get extra time by demanding it. You get more time by being a great company to work with and aligning every part of your business with the needs of your customers and your channel sales partners.
Most issues can be solved without spending vast sums of money. Often you can achieve more with a better understanding of your sales partner’s needs and some inexpensive support than you would with an expensive new marketing campaign.
Once you know what your sales partners would really like in the way of support from your company, you face the biggest challenge of all—changing how your people think and work with your sale agents.
One suggestion is to schedule a full day workshop with a good cross-section of all your internal personnel who interact with your sales agent and channel partners. The objective of such a meeting is to get everyone in your company working in the same direction. Agenda topics can include:
* Clarifing your sales objectives and programs
* Prioritizing activities
* Defining roles and responsibilities
* Setting realistic expectations
* Improving communications between the company and sales agents
* Identifying hidden issues impacting sales performance
* Alerting your company to mistakes that should be avoided
You may find it more expedient to have this meeting facilitated by someone outside your company—someone who can point out areas that need improvement without the usual pressures of company politics.
If you are really serious about aligning yourself strategically, consider a more comprehensive evaluation. Additional areas to consider include:
* Product trends and competitive positioning.
* Target market segmentation and mapping.
* Tactical activities vs. the market life cycle
* Demand creation and marketing programs.
* Wwhole product requirements and pricing.
* Representative selection criteria / recruitment.
* Roles and responsibilities.
* Sales partner expectations.
* Field management and channel conflict.
* Sales metrics.
* Infrastructure alignment.
* Management perceptions and support.
How much time will this all take? Plan on spending one to three months. Again, many companies use someone to collect the information and organize it into a plan, saving time and manpower.
In addition, there may be technology applications that will make your interactions with your channel sales partners more efficient, both for you (costs savings) and for your partners (you become easier to work for). But, not surprisingly, you will find that most sales enhancements will be cultural not technological..
Remember, everything you do as a principal to make selling your company’s products/services easier for your sales agents will pay dividends, not only in the short-term, but with increased respect and profits.
About the Author:
Gregg Marshall, CPMR, is president of Rep Connection Inc., a consulting company that works to help maximize the effectiveness of manufacturers and their professional outsourced field sales forces (reps), especially in the area of electronic commerce and communication. Gregg is a MANA member and speaker at MANA seminars. Gregg is a past president of the Association of Independent Manufacturers' Representatives (AIM/R), the plumbing and heating rep association.
© Gregg Marshall. Reprinted with permission.