Our Tradewinds Council © https://www.jimthomasintl.com/the-tradewinds-councilcopy.html members have collectively asked that we have a session regarding Onboarding Channel Partners and New Reps. We will conduct two of these meeting late May 2019 on this subject. A past blog dealt with filling empty territories: https://www.jimthomasintl.com/blog/archives/02-2018, however this blog deals with the myriad of choices in properly handing off accounts to your new rep.
You can streamline the onboarding and account handoff process if you choose how to engage each handoff scenario from new employee training to incentive programs by mapping the process. The ultimate objective is to make the process as seamless as process for the customer to maintain the customer relationship and keep the sales process moving forward. We see essential parts of the process as:
Outlining the replacement situation for the current transition process
Why are you filling this role? Is the new replacement following a:
The advent of CRM has made it easier for the larger organization to see accurate account notes. Accessible and updated account information allows new reps to reap account information provided that the Sales Manager monitored the account database to minimize the GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) factor.
I always encouraged new reps to review the account database with inside account reps. They usually knew more about ongoing projects, org structure on their levels of communication and had good insights on relationships because their conversations with the account would be weekly if not daily. They should also seek internal feedback from:
Sizing the customer opportunity
It is also important to tailor the onboarding program by channel. If your company sells direct understand the key accounts first. Is this a major or strategic account? These accounts should get priority and additional support. Consider more in-depth deal reviews, joint account visits, more 1:1’s with your new rep for them. If your company sells through channel partners understand the A distributors, co-op programs, exclusivity, agreements etc.
Selling globally, there may be private label customers, licensees https://www.jimthomasintl.com/blog/archives/11-2018 or joint ventures that need to be serviced. Consider helping manage these special relationships until the “normal” business is transitioned.
Incentivizing the players
Are there impending large deals in the pipeline? Sometimes the “replaced” account salesperson is still within the organization and you want both the new and replaced account manager to jointly seize the project. A walkaway attitude by the past sales manager can be detrimental to the onboarding process and the sales process. Explore “special” ways to incentivize reps in a way that is aligned with your sales and post sales strategies.
Consider double paying or sharing commissions on large account sales that are in transition. I would usually extend this to either the normal sales cycle or a fixed period of time e.g. six months. The past account manager is usually responsible for making the sure the project schedule and timeline is updated. The new account manager is responsible for closing the deal and any post sales work. Remember to focus on activity and joint work. This is good both for your team and the customer.
Do you want to have a free fifteen-minute call on improving your account hand off process? You’ll need to make some deft choices to be successful. Sign up on my web site or contact me directly by phone.
Our Tradewinds Council © https://www.jimthomasintl.com/the-tradewinds-councilcopy.html members continue to focus on tweaking their channel partner model. The December 2018 blog focused on programs, this blog will focus on creating an environment where channel partner and manufacturers regularly set the pace of their relationship in a collaborative meeting format.
Most manufacturers find out that having fewer, but more devoted distributors is most effective. Mindshare and time share are the critical elements for partner success. https://www.jimthomasintl.com/blog/the-key-attribute-for-distributor-recruitment. In most cases that means moving the relationship from a transactional relationship that is operational in nature and focused on short term results to one that is more engaged, more transparent and more of a long term partnership.
The purpose of a Distributor Review system should be to:
1. Mutually share business strategies amongst partners,
2. Benchmark current activities,
3. Develop future activities,
4. Build a deeper relationship at a senior level.
It is best to make the review part of your existing Channel Partner Business Agreements. Use the forum of the annual addendum review to meet with top distributor management. Create an addendum to your business agreement that can be updated annually and is part of the agreement for sales planning and activities It should be a collaborative event. Sample meeting formats could consist of:
This is a working session not a PowerPoint parade. The Distributor review should be led by the Channel Manager or someone else from HQ-not field personnel (although they should be present as the silent partner). It should be conducted with the Distributor Principals, not the distributor field sales team.
The role of benchmarking and scoring should fall to the Channel Manager or HQ representative. It could impair their relationships with the distributor sales reps-don’t let it. Principal field sales personnel need to be viewed as positively as possible inside the Distributor-they cannot be viewed as contentious.
Optimally there are a minimum two reviews per year, one live during the planning cycle and another live remotely during the year as a check in. This is not a pipeline review of current projects. Pipeline reviews are done regularly at the field level-usually weekly.
The benefits of the program of a Channel Review are clear:
Do you want to have a free fifteen-minute call on improving your channel partner review and meeting process? You’ll need channel partner management buy in so there will be tough conversations so best to do some scenario planning. Sign up on my web site or contact me directly by phone.