This month’s blog post is in response to a huge amount of inquiries I received relative to deal registration and how to implement it successfully. Later this month, our TreeHouse webinar series will follow up with a piece on successful lead distribution programs, so stay tuned.
To do any piece on deal registration justice, one needs to first understand why companies implement it in the first place. Below is a bulleted list of some of the most common reasons companies implement deal registration. Most of these are self explanatory and most revolve around closing more business, increasing visibility to partner pipelines and/or preventing channel conflict. A subsequent motivation is to automate the workflow around Special Pricing Authorization (SPA) approvals.
- Win more business!
- Visibility into partner pipelines
- Assist partners to close more deals
- Prevent channel conflict
- Allow partners to compete better
- Automate approval workflow
- Automate SPA (Special Pricing Authorization) request process
- Forecast SPA dollars
Partners will give manufacturers visibility into their pipelines but need to be motivated to do so. From having worked with many companies to help develop deal registration programs, what is often missing from their thinking in the early stages is remembering there needs to be something in it for the partner as well. While cash is still king, there are non-monetary incentives like exclusivity and closing assistance that can be equally motivating to the right type of partners.
- Increased margin
- Incentive dollars
- Better ability to compete
- Deal exclusivity
- Prevent conflict
- Assistance with closing
- Move up to next tier of program
- Access to MDF/Co-op/Rebate dollars
- Training access
So how do you go about setting up a deal registration program that will work? There are three steps.
First, get your internal house in order. Make sure everyone is on board. Make sure the processes for receiving, approving and rewarding deal registrations are clear and approved by those that need to approve them. Processes for special pricing authorizations (SPA’s) should be in place. Finally, the processes and policies for managing channel conflict should be clear to all should more than one partner register the same deal or should a partner and a direct sales team member be found chasing the same opportunity. If you work with distributors and are going to offer special pricing or discounts for deal registrations, make sure you have worked out a system to rebate the partner or distributor in advance. If you need the distributor to do something special for these kinds of opportunities (good luck here) get it setup in advance.
Below is a list of some of the departments/organizations that typically should be involved from the beginning.
- Direct Sales
- Channel Sales Managers
- Inside Sales
Second, make your program clear to your partners. If your program is housed in a partner portal I highly recommend a program overview page. On this page you should clearly detail the rules of engagement involved with your deal registration program. Are there deal size restrictions? Are there national or government accounts that are off limits? Are all products available for deal registration? How often does a partner need to update their deal registrations to keep them from expiring? (For more on the expiry concept please see the webinar link below.)
Once you have laid out all the rules, make sure you clearly illustrate all the benefits to partners for providing you with deal registrations. Are they going to receive commissions, increased margins, exclusivity or closing assistance?
Third, make sure your deal registration is integrated into your PRM and CRM system. I know this sounds self serving coming from a PRM vendor. But think about it. How are you going to check to see if a deal has already been registered without a CRM/PRM database? If you have 5-10 partners you might be able to manage deals on a spreadsheet, but what are you going to do with 50, 100 or 1,000 partners? How are you going to forecast these deals if you don’t have a tool that can look at the deals in your funnel and weigh them accordingly?
Finally, stick with your policy with respect to channel conflict when what I call, the “moment of truth” arrives. Once your deal registration system is implemented conflict is inevitable. Conflict existed without registration and removing it is a goal of many registration programs. Two partners will attempt to register the same deal or a direct sales team member and a channel partner will attempt to work the same opportunity. While it is tempting to give the deal to your favorite partner vs. the one who registered it first, or equally tempting to give the deal to your internal team vs. a partner that might have brought the deal to you first, Don’t! Partners talk, especially with today’s availability of social media networks. Once you get the reputation for poaching or playing favorites, good partners will leave you.
Good deal registration programs are valuable channel assets. If you take the right steps up front you can realize that value quickly. If you would like to see a more detailed version of this post, please feel free to download our webinar on this subject here.