Selling Direct is Different Than Channel Sales

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

Selling Direct is Different Than Channel Sales

I make this statement often: Selling Direct is Different Than Selling via The Channel. You would think it was obvious, but it is not.

When a company sells direct, the messaging is aimed at the end user. The sales channel is pursuing customers. The company owns the customer - as much as a company can possibly own a customer. [Read this article about it!]

When you sell through a sales channel (like agents or VARs), your messaging is to the channel partner. The company is pursuing partners and making it stupid easy for the partners to sell and acquire customers for the both of you.

Obviously, there are companies with both direct and indirect sales forces.

I run into this all the time. Companies think a channel is the fastest and cheapest way to get feet on the street. It can be, but often, due to misconceptions, it isn't. And then the company has to re-boot its channel program.

The two primary differences between VARs and Agents are that Agents just sell, that's their business model. Get ink, get paid, move on. VARs have an existing business model, usually tied up around one or two hardware/software vendors. Everything else is ancillary -- including your awesome services that you think they should drop everything and sell. Most VARs are not a sales machine; Agents are, but Agents won't install or do support.

You kind of need both working together, which is the whole CompTIA Telecom group's plan.

It is very difficult to sell through the Channel if you have never sold the same products direct. You don't know the triggers, friction points, etc. You are letting the channel figure it out as you go. That's an expensive mistake.

Final point: there isn't a button to push to turbo charge the indirect channel. There are many factors involved in why channel partners sell one service or one vendor over another. Unless you have some exclusive service, the channel partner has many choices.

The best channel managers understand that when a partner quotes and sells your service, the partner is lending his reputation to you and he is depending on you for his paycheck. It's a risk. And it is amazing how many people don't get it.

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