All you need to know about channel sales


Your salespeople only have so much time. Even if you hire great talent, invest in enablement tools, and remove all distractions, you can’t create more time. Some companies choose to hire more reps.

This works up to a point.

A channel sales model is another potentially game-changing strategy. Instead of hiring more reps, your product or service is distributed using a channel partner, who markets and sells it.

What is channel sales?

In a channel sales model, a company sells through third-party partners – types of partners include affiliate partners, resellers, value-added providers, or another entity you don’t control directly.


B2B companies often use a mixture of direct and channel sales to increase revenue.

Is channel sales right for you?

If you’re planning to adopt a channel sales model, the state of your company, product, sales process, and more is important to consider.

  • Company size and maturity. Smaller companies use partners to grow their business, without needing to invest in hiring and training a sales team. Once they’re larger, they can either hire their own reps or continue with what they’re doing.
  • Product maturity. If your product is in the early stages, you might want to take advantage of a direct relationship with your customers, so you can quickly and efficiently assess what’s working, what’s not, and what to change.
  • Sales process maturity. Before you can teach other people how to sell your product lines, you need to understand how to sell it yourself. You first need to define the stages of the sales process, the buying triggers, who gets involved, how long the average deal takes to close.
  • Geography. If your offices aren’t spread out, it might make sense to use a channel sales model. That makes creating multiple sales teams unnecessary. Of course, you can also use an inside sales model where appropriate.
  • Revenue needs. It takes time and energy to get a partner channel system up and running. You’ll need to recruit new, qualified entities to sell and distribute your product. If you need money sooner rather than later, focus on direct sales.

Because we are often asked how to build a partner channel, we shared The phases and pitfalls of channel development.

What makes a good channel partner?

Don’t be tempted to partner with as many channel partners as possible. It’s best to choose only a few, and to do so carefully. Trying to partner with everyone is a bad idea, just like trying to sell to everyone reduces your focus and harms your overall results.

The process of finding partners is almost identical to finding prospects. The first step is to define what an “ideal partner” looks like.

Complementary to your product

The partner’s product or service should fill a gap in your offering or help your customers use your offering more effectively. For example, partners of a highly specialized provider of software help an enterprise take full advantage of the software’s capabilities.

Aligned with your market

You should also consider whether your partner’s customers would benefit from your product. Are they demanding additional support, features, or solutions that your partner can’t currently provide? Are their customers the right fit in terms of geography, use case, and size?

High technical expertise

Identify how much technical knowledge your partner would need to sell, and potentially service, your products. You might have to do very little education and support – or you might have to do a great deal. Although training a partner requires more time and resources, it also gives them an additional incentive to work with you.

If the average selling price is low, and partners resell your product relatively infrequently, don’t invest much into training them – the ROI isn’t worth it. This highlights the importance of making sure you track how much revenue the partner produces compared to the average return.

Similar sales process

Your partner’s sales process should be compatible with yours. Ideally, there’s a natural point in their sales or services process for introducing or upselling your product. For example, if the partner sells integrated solutions, and your product fit’s with that approach, then it could be a good match.

Manageable commitment level

Understanding how much commitment a partner would need to make to succeed is essential. Is it spending one full day per quarter at your office getting trained? Or is watching one 30-minute video plenty?

Once you’ve crafted your ideal partner persona, rank the characteristics by importance. Now you have a framework for objectively evaluating partners.

Which channel partner types can you choose from? This article describes the different types of indirect channel partners.

Now let’s go over how you can create a profitable channel sales strategy.

Sales channel strategy

Your sales channel strategy should consider using inbound marketing principles to attract partners, not just outbound techniques. This requires creating content that targets the types of channel partners you seek.

Not only is this strategy easier to scale than an outbound one, but it also guarantees that your potential partners know about your company from the first conversation.

With that in mind, here’s how to create a sales channel program step-by-step.

Sales channel partnership tools

As your work with channel partners expands, you will need enablement tools much like your direct sales team uses. Here is a list of a few indirect sales channel tools – you can evaluate the merits of each. Integration with your CRM is helpful.

How to measure your channel sales program

Wondering what success looks like? A range of metrics and key performance indicators can help you measure and measure every aspect of your channel sales program.

But be careful – the list of what you track can spiral out of control if you aren’t careful. While you can’t improve what you don’t measure, fewer metrics will likely bring greater focus.

Here is a sample by major category:

Channel sales recruitment

  • Total number of partners
  • Recruitment quota attainment
  • Partner attrition rate
  • Average cost of recruiting and onboarding new partner
  • Average length of time to recruit and onboard new partner

Channel sales success

  • Total number of partner deals registered
  • Average value of partner deal
  • Percentage of accepted partner-submitted deals
  • Percentage of closed partner-submitted deals
  • Average sales cycle length
  • Percentage of partners who registered leads in past month or quarter

Channel sales training and support

  • Percentage of partners using provided sales and marketing collateral
  • Percentage of partners who attend optional events and/or ongoing training
  • Average partner satisfaction score
  • Percentage of partners who attempted certification
  • Percentage of partners who completed certification

Channel sales profitability

  • Customer acquisition cost (CA) for each partner sale versus direct sale
  • Retention rates for partner sales versus direct sales
  • Cross-sell and upsell rates for partner sales versus direct sales

Outside expertise

Whether you’re embarking on the journey to build a new channel for the first time, or you need skilled resources to manage the execution of your partner channel strategy, we can help.

Either way, let’s start a conversation. Book an appointment.

Your competitors are investing

You can bank on the fact that your competition isn’t standing still when it comes to content. We know that it is harder to catch up once you have fallen behind.

If content is important – and everyone says it is – then why is so much of it bad?

5 reasons why most B2B content is inadequate

There is a good chance your B2B content is falling short or failing outright.

Reason #1. It is general and vague

Content that is full of jargon, self-promotion, and fluff is useless to B2B buyers. It doesn’t add value and can seem completely irrelevant.

What if the roles were reversed? Would you consume content that doesn’t speak to you and your interests? What reason would you have to read content on a broad topic rather than one that solves a specific problem?

Without a clear, bold statement up front, readers don’t know what to expect. With this in mind, they’ll scroll and skim for a little bit, but will leave if they don’t have any direction or goal in mind.

Reason #2. It is promotional

Most marketers get this wrong. Rather than a place for self-congratulatory chest-thumping, the star of the show is your audience. Great content leads with education and offers specific takeaways. Conversion can’t be forced. The content must create pull.

Reason #3. It has too much text

B2B content is a visual, written journey that helps your customers accomplish a specific task or learn more about a relevant topic.

By failing to use proper imagery, or none at all, you are making it hard for the customer to become engaged.

Reason #4. It is hard to read

If you’re using words that don’t sound like your audience, you need to simplify. Other issues impacting readability are things like sentence and paragraph length, passive voice, lousy formatting, and of course, poor writing.

Reason #5. It lacks a call to action

Your B2B content won’t generate any results if you don’t show readers what steps to take next. It is your responsibility as a marketer to lead them down a path of discovery.

What should you do to fix your content problem?

Win with amazing B2B content

To make improvements, you can take these steps to to re-energize your efforts. Evaluate how each can help you create more high-performing content.

Step #1. Find your voice

You don’t have to be bland or boring, no matter what you sell or whom you help. Your brand personality will shine through in your voice and tone. The idea is for the personality to be authentic and genuine, you can build trust with your audience.

Showing off a personality also humanizes your brand. It’s not this faceless entity. Instead, it’s talented people working to help other companies.

Step #2. Bring a perspective

A point of view doesn’t have to be controversial. It simply means your company has values and lives them.

Remaining neutral never works when you’re developing content on big challenges and concerns for your audience. Hedging won’t win over customers. They’ll respect that you have expertise and are coming from a place of offering insights.

Step #3. Treat your audience like a star

Content marketing is strategic storytelling. From ebooks to video to social media posts, you are creating a narrative. The most important thing is to ensure the star is your buyer. The journey is theirs, and your business simply enables them to succeed.

Step #4. Get creative

B2B content should be creative. The best B2B content is imaginative and entertaining. When it’s like this, your content is easily consumable.

Audiences associate positive feelings with your brand.

Step #5. Break down big ideas with explainer videos

As video becomes increasingly ubiquitous, consider how to package and extend ebooks, blogs, or white papers with video. Not only is it an opportunity to inject fun and energy, it offers the added benefit of delivering more punch in a shorter amount of time.

Want help?

If you are serious about taking your content to a higher level, you have three options. Upgrade your existing team. Partner with a third-party specialist. Meld some combination of the two. At RaaStr, we can work in any of these ways.

Schedule a consultation now to update your approach to content marketing.

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