A Day in the Life of a B2B Channel Partner and Reseller Manager B2B channel partner managers and teams get calls and advice from the field, the product managers, and their managers on how to increase share of channel sales as a percentage of overall revenue. Majority of those recommendations are about creating SPIFs (Sales Promotion Incentive Funds) on how to use incentive funds to motivate B2B channel partners and resellers, so these short-term programs make fairly large impact on ‘now’ revenues. My advice to B2B channel partner managers is DO NOT deploy these SPIF recommendations. Their recommendations are ineffective and a drain on resources, both long-term and short-term. On a long-term basis, your channel will get used to SPIFs. And on the short-term, the funds can be deployed for better purpose to create lasting impact, here are 10 excellent recommendations. #10 Use funds from SPIF to motivate product managers to deliver 3 more webinars to your B2B channel partners and resellers: Webinars are a good way to engage your b2b channel partners. Encourage your channel partners to forward webinar invitations to their customers. Additional 3 webinars to your b2b channel partners will encourage indirect sales representatives to have 3 or more opportunities to engage their customers. #9 Use funds from SPIF to motivate your content management team to write more about b2b channel partners and their success stories: This is an obvious one. The more you and your team talk about success the better. Get your content management team to promote the stories of success and lessons learned in the channel. Share it across social networks, use newsletters, and email marketing. More B2B channel partners will be encouraged to apply these success and lessons from their peers. #8 Use funds from SPIF to motivate your training team to deliver 3 additional training sessions to your b2b channel partners and resellers: Channel education is critical. Channel training programs either fall-short of expectations, or B2B channel partner representatives do not spend enough time on your products. Additional 3 training sessions to your b2b channel partners will encourage channel sales representatives to have 3 more opportunities to learn about your products. #7 Use funds from SPIF to motivate your inside sales team to better qualified leads meant for your B2B channel partners and resellers: Inside sales teams can be motivated to go the additional step to improve their lead qualification. The better qualified the lead is, the happier the channel sales professionals. Channel teams are ecstatic when they receive a very highly qualified lead from their OEM partners. OEM partners often expect the channel teams to develop their lead generation and qualification process. If you have an inside sales team, transferring a few well qualified leads to choice channel partners, it goes a long way in motivating channel sales professionals. #6 Use funds from SPIF to motivate your subject matter experts to respond more quickly to the questions from your B2B channel partners and resellers: B2B customers have complex issues, and closing every deal depends on the expertise, attention, of super-busy subject matter experts. Getting attention of these subject matter experts, and seeking their expertise and coordinating with channel partners is extremely difficult. I recommend using SPIF to bring them together on ask-the-expert phone calls, or meet-the-expert dinners. #5 Use funds from SPIF for a road show with channel partners and engage their b2b customers: Unlike #6, the main goal of a road-show with channel partners is to engage b2b customers directly with product managers, and subject-matter experts. This takes more effort in coordination and planning. Do not attempt this in the last few weeks of the quarter in an effort to bridge the revenue goals for the quarter. #4 Use funds from SPIF and invest in setting up social selling for your B2B channel partners and resellers: Social selling severely impacts the way relationships are established. The new slogan is #socialsellordie. B2B channel partners are ill equipped to engage in social selling. Many of your partners do not have a social presence while your B2B customers are on multiple social networks. Referrals are highly effective, and social selling is a great tool for referrals. B2B channel partners must be encouraged to engage in social selling. #3 Channel conflicts occur, use funds from SPIF to reduce some of the conflict: B2B Channel Managers are extremely sensitive to channel conflicts. Often, the best plans, territory management tools, lead management tools, fail at the value of relationships. Additionally, social selling is impacting territory management. SPIF funds should be reserved to reduce some of this conflict. #2 Do what DELL did – release some of your valuable direct b2b customers into the hands of the channel: Recently, DELL made the most sweeping changes in their channel strategy by placed 200,000 direct accounts into the hands of the channel. I am not privy to DELL’s analysis in making these changes. However, in my previous job, for a large mid-size company, I conducted detailed customer classification, based on revenue. I recommend that you do the same, and use a simple 20-80 Pareto principle. Release 80% of your customer base to your channel partners, you may succeed in increasing your margins by a factor. #1 Use funds from SPIF and invest in B2B selling automation and collaborative selling tools: B2B customers have complex issues, and closing every deal depends on the expertise, attention, of super-busy subject matter experts. Additionally, B2B channel partners face other issues such as limited customer face-time, scarce subject matter expertise, limited awareness on new products and features, changes in customer needs, and timely access to confidential information. Explore Pivot It a B2B selling automation tool. Also explore other b2b selling tools from Jivesoftware for sales, Clearslide, and other sales content management tools. Unilateral cash-reward programs targeted at channel partners and resellers do not work. Spiked end of quarter commissions and discounts are ineffective long-term. Additionally, B2B customers have long-short memory. They have a long memory of the pricing discounts and a very short memory of expiration dates. Help your b2b channel partners and reseller solve your b2b customer problems, and you will create a long-term growth engine.