By Tom Brigiotta, Rocket Software
One of the worst mistakes a company can make is to believe an external sales team needs no training or close interaction — that you can just sign a reselling agreement and then go back to business as usual while strangers make your offerings fly off the shelves. But trusting an external team like a Value Added Reseller (VAR) with your work is like trusting a babysitter with your children. You can just rush out the door and hope the kids are in one piece when you get home, or you can work with the sitter to develop a plan for the best, safest, most enriching experience. The more involved a software manufacturer is with their VAR team, the better that team understands the value propositions your solutions deliver – and the better equipped they are to make consistent, lucrative sales.
Plan For Success
Creating a prosperous relationship with a VAR is a multi-stage process and requires both planning and execution. We know that customers buy technology solutions to address their most pressing business issues and solve the technology challenges associated with those business issues. The first step is to pinpoint each product’s value proposition and boil that core value down into simple, easily explained concepts anyone can use to illustrate value of your solution. Next, you must determine the technological challenge or hurdle each solution addresses, and how specifically they address these issues. Finally, what differentiates your solution from alternatives on the market?
Once you’ve identified the importance of addressing the business issue and your solutions differentiated value, the next step is to develop a repertoire of clearly outlined sales strategies. It is vital to practice and discuss these sales strategies with your VAR team in person or over the phone, so they can execute on your techniques. Include within your playbook ways for the VAR to contact your team for backup, clarification, and assistance, as well as examples of your most successful sales strategies. Be sure to provide useful collateral — demos and co-marketing events to perform along with the VAR, and a space on your company’s web page listing the VAR as a certified and trusted reseller.
Start With A VAR Playbook
Having come up with all these strategies and techniques for your VAR, it’s time to write a playbook. No matter how enthusiastic a VAR is about their clients’ products, they cannot know those products inside and out like the clients themselves. They therefore need a document from which to learn the best sales strategies and key differentiators for each offering to both internalize the information and train and onboard new hires. With wikis, smartphones, and other online capabilities, these playbooks can be living documents updated in real time, to keep the relationship and all associated information fresh for both parties.
Be sure to consider the following factors when developing a VAR playbook:
Remember that VARs are often focused on a specific industry, and you’ll want a clear idea of how sales teams prosper within their industries to best support them. Provide enough aid and avenues of communication, and your VAR will become a trusted advisor in their business space, forming a positive feedback loop where they help you refine your value proposition and differentiation with their verticals in mind.
After The Playbook, Dynamic Training
Playbooks are a great first step, but the equally vital next step is to spend time on enablement training. To maximize sales, you must maximize effort, and that means staying “top of mind” with your channel partners with regularly training for your VAR associates in how best to sell your solutions. That means you not only write the script, but you train the VAR team to deliver the lines and then send them out into the world, track their progress, and listen to their feedback.
Once your VAR team knows the strategies, given them a toolkit of three to five assets to use along with the playbook — solution documentation, sample demos, customer case studies, learning aids, anything tangible that helps to sell your solution is fair game. Moreover, make sure the VAR has access to all available web copy and sales materials you provide for your internal team. Any benefit you can provide will translate to increased sales and a healthier relationship down the line.
Empower Your VAR
Finally, software vendors must help their VAR partners deliver maximum value to their customers. And doing so means tracking the VAR’s performance metrics and keeping them informed of your results. When working with a VAR, establish what metrics and expectations you will use to measure your success. Some examples of useful metrics include:
Once you’ve begun collecting this data, make regular efforts to report your finds to the VAR. Maintaining a strong correspondence with a VAR will create a feedback loop between your team and their industry that grows each side’s insight with each conversation. The more you talk to your VAR, the better you will know when to provide business planning and reviews. And these reviews serve as ideal times for more in-depth conversations about the state of the partnership, ways to improve, and new movements within the VAR’s industry.
A software vendor’s VAR partners can be a great asset and create enormous value above and beyond an internal sales team. But the VAR cannot work in a vacuum and needs strong, proactive support from its software manufacturers. A forward-thinking, involved approach will help developers and VAR partners have fruitful relationships, and create value on both sides as software vendors create long-term best practices for maximizing VAR benefit and VAR teams become more versed in their clients’ products and techniques.
About The Author
Tom Brigiotta is SVP, Chief Revenue Officer, joined Rocket Software in 2016 as the company’s Chief Revenue Officer, responsible for driver Rocket’s sales strategy and execution. Prior to Rocket, he spent 8 years at Imprivata as Senior Vice President of WW Sales and Field Operations. While at Imprivata, Tom led the go-to-market transformation from a horizontal Single Sign-On (SS) Technology Company to a Healthcare Access management market leader and his team achieved significant mulit-year revenue growth.