With channel sales, the type and number of partners you attract and retain can determine your success. What’s also true is that the type of business you are in often determines the type of partners you want to attract, level of commitment and the type of benefits you might offer. So what do you do when partners are not performing? Here are some perspectives to consider:
Low volume, high-priced and high involvement products make it very difficult to support and keep under-performing partners. The key to success if you’re at a company in this situation is revenue sales from a few partners vs. low or sporadic sales from many partners. This means that taking the time to select and train the right partners is mission critical. Because of this, make the decision to fire under-performing partners earlier rather than later in the relationship. If partners that meet your preferred criteria are on-boarded, but can’t perform after a short period of time, start spending time with ones that are more successful.
If you’re at a company where high-volume and low-priced products sales are the norm for your channel, the decision to fire partners becomes different. It’s nice and even necessary in this case to have many partners that support your products. An excellent example of why this is important is when inventory is long and it’s the end of the quarter. Having a larger number of partners in this case makes it more likely that you will be able to offload surplus inventory by providing your partner network with an end of quarter promotion. The solution for addressing under-performing partners in this case is to treat high-volume, better-performing partners well. A tiered partner program (platinum/gold/silver) can give better-performing partners access to more sales tools and benefits. Rather than fire partners, the idea is to motivate them to increase their volume and subsequently their access to valued program features like training, leads and MDF funds. With high-volume and low-price products, this tends to be a better way to deal with the issue of under-performing partners.
What hard decisions have you had to make surrounding under-performing partners? What did you do?