Many companies come to me for Channel Consulting. Either they have an Indirect sales channel that isn't working or they want to start using that free sales team called the indirect agent.
The Indirect Sales Channel has appeal because they don't have a recurring cost until they sell something. No salary, benefits, office furniture, lease, car allowance, cell phone, utilities, etc.
However, you do have to have Channel Management and Support.
You also have to choose your agents carefully. Having hundreds of agents is expensive to manage and Pareto's Rule applies everywhere. (It's 20% of your agents will bring in about 80% of your deals.)
Sales is still sales even Indirectly. Agents have to have a Passion, Enthusiasm or at least a Belief that your product or service will benefit their customer.
That's the other pitfall. Agents want to own the customer. And they want to get paid a commission for as long as the customer is using your service. (Or they will turf them).
You need to ask yourself:
- What is your company's pitch to Agents? Why should they sell your stuff?
- What's your special sauce? (Why you and not your competitor?)
- Where's the value in selling your services (besides the "added revenue")?
- Why would the Agent's client base want your service?
- What do Agents get out of this? (Or how much do agents get paid for selling this?)
- Is there training about your service?
- Is there technical and sales training?
- Is there a demo account available?
- What's the USP?
- What collateral do you have ready?
- How will the Agent get quotes, contracts, SLA's and other paperwork?
- How will the Agent know that his leads won't be used by the direct team?
- How do you handle Channel Conflict?
- What will the provisioning process look like? How will the client and agent be kept informed during this process?
- How will the Agent know his commissions?
- Is there an Escalation list?
- What does the Back Office look like?