Channel Partner Programs Drive Sales Success
Here’s How the Best Ones Deliver.
There’s never been a more exciting time to sell IoT solutions for security and business. The digital transformation is sparking the birth of new technologies and products, offering an unprecedented array of options for systems integrators. How do you choose which solutions to sell? You want to partner with companies that can help you build the most robust pipeline, close the most sales, and retain existing customers for years to come.
Your calculations should include an assessment of a manufacturer’s breadth of solutions and technical capabilities. Their reputation and brand awareness matter too. Plus, there’s something else to weigh heavily: the manufacturer’s channel partner program (CPP). Well-structured, well-supported programs can dramatically affect your company’s sales success, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction, ultimately driving growth and profitability.
As in any partnership, CPP members give as well as receive. For integrators, there are start-up costs. Many CPPs require members to undergo a certification process that includes extensive product training of one or more employees. Some ask for a marketing plan and sales projections. Almost all require a minimum sales commitment, with additional partner benefits accruing at higher sales levels. In CPPs, the more business you secure, the more benefits you earn.
All programs are not created equal. When selecting which manufacturers are deserving of your time, energy, and loyalty, choose wisely. The right partner will pay you back many times over. Here’s what to consider:
Sales are all about relationships. CPPs can solidify and expand those relationships.
A strong CPP provides a direct extension to your sales team. For example, at Axis, regional sales managers, field engineers, and inside sales account managers are readily accessible to support our channel partner members. Integrators work consistently with the same assigned Axis team, establishing long-term relationships, partnerships, even friendships. We serve as force multipliers, thereby helping to strengthen your connections with end customers.
Examples of CPP support include assistance with product demonstrations, site walks, system design, device configuration, and other activities that reinforce the customer’s perception that their project is in the most capable hands. As the primary customer contact, your direct, visible manufacturer relationships lend credibility to you and your organization while making your customers feel highly valued and cared for.
Winning sales is only half the battle. Once you’ve won over customers, you want to keep them.
As a systems integrator, you are the customer’s go-to resource for troubleshooting and technical support. In many instances, you can handle these issues autonomously. Sometimes, you can’t. When you need manufacturer’s tech support, it must be of the highest quality; quick, and thorough. If it’s not, you risk disappointing your customers, or even worse, damaging your relationship.
Premium tech support is typically a perk of CPP membership. At Axis, it certainly is. Integrators and end customers consistently give our service the highest marks. You’ll have award-winning support available swiftly and for as long as you need it. We will stay with you until your issue is resolved. Our tech support specialists and engineers work seamlessly as an extension of your team.
Outstanding tech support is key to customer retention. It can turn satisfied end-customers into your strongest advocates. Those who feel good about their interactions with your company, including your problem-solving abilities, will post positive reviews and refer you to others.
Dissatisfied customers also share their experiences. That’s something you don’t want. Research shows that it takes 40 positive reviews to undo the damage of a single negative review. The backing of a strong CPP helps ensure that tech support interactions won’t harm your customer relationships or your corporate reputation. Instead, they can strengthen both.
Training, Certification, and Continuing Education
Education is a primary component of most CPPs.
Classroom trainings, webinars, summits, and events like these allow integrators to learn from industry experts and each other. Topics may be product-specific, industry-specific, or cover broader technology and market trends.
For example, Axis offers an online learning academy that teaches CPP members how to put skills into practice on topics ranging from sales and business, to system design, to installation and configuration. Online courses, webinars, articles, videos, and other resources cater to individual learning styles. By participating in training and continuing education opportunities, integrators are better equipped to holistically assess customers’ needs and identify sales opportunities that deliver unique value.
Furthermore, because technology is evolving more rapidly than ever before, system integrators must stay up to date on the latest technologies and solutions if they want to remain competitive. From in-person classroom trainings to online coursework, our experts provide program participants with knowledge about the latest Axis technologies, industry trends and real-life applications. As a result, our partners are able to offer their customers and prospects a broader array of solutions.
Finally, never underestimate the value of formal “manufacturer certified” status. Certification through a CPP program gives integrators a meaningful edge in competitive bid situations, instilling confidence in stakeholders that they’re a highly qualified vendor. Architects and consultants responsible for specifying technology systems and vetting installing dealers may view it as a prerequisite. End customers also prefer integrators who can verify their proficiency before starting a job.
Marketing and Lead Generation
Most security technology manufacturers do not sell directly to end customers but invest heavily in marketing activities that generate end-customer leads. For example, they may target specific vertical markets where they see opportunities for their solutions, communicating their value message directly to stakeholders. They also build brand awareness and generate leads through industry trade shows, webinars, online and print advertising, paid search, and other programs that reach the end-user. What happens to those leads? Usually, they’re distributed geographically to the company’s regional sales managers, who may, in turn, bring an opportunity to you – their channel partner.
CPPs also give integrators’ lead-gen programs a boost. Manufacturers can provide quality content like case studies and white papers to support your e-newsletters or email campaigns. They may collaborate with you on social media campaigns to increase reach and click-throughs. Regional sales managers might present at local lunch-and-learns for your customers or co-host educational webinars. Plus, any manufacturer advertising that helps build brand awareness in the minds of end customers, whether or not it generates leads, makes your job selling those solutions that much easier.
CPPs offer co-op funds that are available for integrators to apply toward programs of their choice. Event sponsorships, local trade shows, professional networking events, and ad placements are a few examples of some potential benefits. Co-marketing can also help to stretch members’ marketing budgets. Product brochures, ads, and other marketing materials and merchandise can be co-branded with your company’s logo and contact information, with creation costs underwritten by the manufacturer.
CPP members benefit from price discounts that scale up as they meet quarterly sales thresholds. Higher-level partners have greater freedom to increase sales margins, price jobs more competitively, or both.
As you rise to higher levels, ever-increasing discounts initiate a snowball effect: your greater pricing flexibility positions you to win more jobs and, in turn, further elevate your CPP member status.
CPPs impact your company’s profitability in other ways too. When sales representatives are empowered for success with all the tools and support that CPPs offer, they attain higher quotas and earn larger commissions – translating to happier employees with lower turnover.
Channel Partner Programs offer a range of member benefits. They build and strengthen relationships at every stage of the sales cycle, help integrators reach new prospects, provide marketing and sales resources, offer educational programming, lend credibility to your organization, and increase revenue and margin.
Security manufacturers can design the very best products, but they’ll have a tough time realizing financial success without dedicated Channel Partners. Your success is their success.
The best CPPs will give you the resources to achieve it! At Axis, we invite you to explore the power of partnership via our Axis Channel Partner Program.
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