A new research report, 'What Channels Need to Succeed 2012' undertaken by the Leadership Foundation on behalf of The Channel Partnership, has highlighted increased investment in brand awareness, market intelligence and better product and technology training as key to sales success.
66% of the 250 channel salespeople questioned said that increased brand investment by vendors would have the highest impact on sales performance. 59% said that better insight into the market trends, competitor activity and customer needs would have a high impact on their sales performance. This research highlights the fact that channel sales execs need to be able to talk about more than just products and technology to compete in a challenging and dynamic market environment.
59% of channel salespeople said that brand strength was the number one reason they would choose between two vendors with similar products, followed by the quality of pre and post sales support (45%). The commercial terms offered by vendors were deemed less important, cited by only 36% of respondents.
In terms of vendor support, over half (51%) of the channel sales executives identified product and technology training and having good sales leads as most valuable. 55% said that receiving better products and services training would have a significant impact on sales. With the majority of participants in the survey selling technology products from more than 6different vendors, it is perhaps unsurprising such emphasis is placed on training.
Just 8% of channel sales people rated the support they receive from vendors as excellent, while half said it was good so there is room for improvement in many areas. And whilst 61% said they thought their marketing activities was aligned to their vendor's marketing, 17% said it wasn't and 22% were unsure.
The top three frustrations facing channel sales are inflexible product pricing from vendors (37%), lack of vendor support for individual sales (22%) and insufficient training and education for sales teams on products and technology (22%). Other problems included poorly managed conflict with direct sales, the lack of support for 'go to market' planning and failure to protect sales margins.
Channel salespeople want regular communications from their vendors, but not overload. 51% preferred monthly contact, 31% weekly and 17% quarterly. Email is the preferred means of communication for 73%, closely followed by face to face meetings. Just 10% said that social media was an effective way of communicating with partners, suggesting that all of those vendors investing heavily in social media programmes to engage their channel shouldn't neglect more traditional routes.
Phil Brown, Director at The Channel Partnership commented, "This research highlights the clear link between vendor brand investment and sales success. The majority of channel sales professionals are working for multiple vendors so those that invest most in their brands and equip their sales channels with the right market knowledge, sales and marketing support and technology training are likely to outperform the competition."
"Based on the findings we recommend that vendors review their channel enablement programmes and look at how they can provide greater insight and intelligence to support their channel's sales and marketing activities. The channel is keen to receive this type of support so will respond positively to those who deliver it."
For a full report, go to www.thechannelpartnership.com