5 Reasons B2B Companies Should Stop Treating Their Distribution Channels Like Second-Class Citizens

By Matt Suggs | August 7, 2018

In April 2018, Mediafly commissioned Forrester Consulting to explore how B2B companies support both direct and indirect sellers with sales enablement technologies. Through an online survey of 227 sales and marketing leaders, Forrester found that B2B Enterprises overwhelmingly prioritize providing tools and training for their direct sellers over indirect or partner sellers. Forrester also found that by neglecting indirect sellers, these companies inadvertently hinder their own sales performance, and as a result, business success.

Based on Forrester’s paper, “It’s Time to Enable Your Channel Sellers for Evolved Selling”, we at Mediafly have compiled our top five reasons to stop treating your indirect sellers like second-class citizens and start growing your business at the pace you desire. By choosing not to enable your indirect sellers with sales enablement technologies, you:

1. Create a disjointed brand experience that hurts sales outcomes.
Forrester’s results uncovered less than half (45%) of all sales and marketing leaders surveyed are confident in the level of brand consistency buyers experience throughout the sales process, with 42% feeling buyer experiences are less than consistent. If you haven’t noticed, your buyer has changed. Modern B2B buyers do more research on their own and interact with sales reps later in the sales cycle than ever before. When they finally do engage, they expect reps to elevate the conversation, providing tailored and consistent experiences at every touchpoint.

Lifetime Customer Value Stat Implementing a sales enablement technology can guarantee both your direct and indirect sellers always have access to new and up-to-date content on any device, whether online or offline. By equipping reps with an intuitive sales application at their fingertips, you can minimize the risk of sellers saving outdated content to their local machines or creating their own off-brand content when a quick search through past emails doesn’t surface what they need. Ensuring the sales enablement platform you select is easy-to-use and mobile-ready will encourage maximum adoption and usage across all sales channels and increase business results. In fact, Forrester found companies that enable partners with sales enablement technologies are 1.5x more likely to report an increase in customer lifetime value and 2.1x more likely to report an increase in customer references.

2. Lose visibility into the sales process.
Similarly, companies who neglect to enable their indirect sellers with sales enablement technologies lack visibility into the sales process. Forrester found that consumer-packaged goods (CPG) sellers, specifically, have the least visibility into the sales process, with 21% of respondents unsure of what the buyer experience looks like.

Revenue Growth Stat Implementing a sales enablement technology and making the platform accessible to both direct and indirect sellers gives management and marketers insight into what content is being used at various stages of the buying cycle, what reps are utilizing the assets provided (and whether or not this has an impact on sales performance), and what content drives revenue. Sales enablement technologies that incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning automate the process of capturing meeting notes, customer data, and content presented in both the sales application and CRM. This ensures management can forecast more accurately and marketers can focus on producing content that propels deals forward. According to Forrester, companies that deploy sales enablement technologies to their partners are 2.3x more likely to achieve sales goals and report 1.4x higher revenue growth.

3. Make it difficult for partners to do business with you.
Did you know channel partners have 1.3x to 1.6x greater difficulty than direct sales employees getting buyers to take the next meeting? This figure isn’t surprising when you consider 68% of survey respondents provide direct sellers with sales presentation templates and only 48% supply these same templates to partners. Enterprises also offer direct sales reps access to sales enablement tools and technologies at rates 1.4x to 1.7x higher than they do indirect sales reps. How could you possibly expect your indirect sellers to perform at the same level as direct sellers with such a clear gap in resources?

Double Digit Stat To close this gap, many companies are investing in sales enablement technologies for their partner channels – and for good reason. Early adopters empowering their indirect sales channels with sales enablement technologies report 1.4x higher average revenue growth and are 2.1x more likely to achieve double-digit revenue growth. If your channel sellers are selling more than just your brand, not enabling them with the tools they need to be successful only makes it more likely that they’ll prioritize selling a competitor who does.

4. Lose your competitive advantage.
Among the survey responses, Forrester found a direct correlation between sales enablement technology adoption and business success. B2B Enterprises that enable their indirect sellers with sales enablement technologies find it 2.3x easier to accelerate deal closure because they’re better able to secure subsequent meetings and engage higher-level stakeholders in sales conversations.

Deal Closure Stat Sales enablement technologies elevate your sellers’ sophistication and success by enabling them to ditch their static sales pitch deck and lead personalized sales discussions that address how your solution will solve for a buyer’s business challenges and help them reach their financial goals. Indirect sellers with access to interactive tools like calculators and value assessments, in particular, have an easier time differentiating themselves from the competition, with survey respondents reporting they find it twice as easy to accelerate deal closure and 1.8x easier to engage high-level stakeholders in sales conversations.

5. Impede your own success.
The companies surveyed have an average of 176 partner companies selling their products and services. And although partner sales contribute to roughly half (49%) of annual revenue for B2B firms, 55% of survey respondents are not confident in – or not aware of – their partners’ abilities to deliver compelling sales interactions.

PartnerStat-750x624 Your partners are responsible for half of your success. You wouldn’t send a new sales rep into the field without proper onboarding, so why would you depend on partner sellers who lack training and knowledge to sell your products or services? They can’t sell what they don’t know. And if they’re not selling your products, you’re not meeting your revenue goals. A sales enablement technology accessible to both direct and indirect sellers is an essential piece of any modern sales strategy. It’s the number one way to ensure everyone who represents your brand can elevate the sales conversation for more interactive, engaging, and consistent buying experiences that drive revenue.

To learn more, download the full paper, “It’s Time to Enable Your Channel Sellers for Evolved Selling”, below.

Source: “It’s Time to Enable Your Channel Sellers for Evolved Selling”, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Mediafly, July 2018.

Matt Suggs leads the sales and business development teams at Mediafly, driving overall revenue growth and guiding the company to better understand the enterprise sales cycle. Since joining the company in 2010, Matt has been integral in adding and growing the company’s customers across different verticals. As a member of the executive committee, he also guides the overall strategy for Mediafly.

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