Best practices for managing distribution partners

Companies that know how to manage distribution partnerships are one step ahead of the game. Here is how it can help your business.

An effective relationship with several channel partners can help any sales organisation maximise its revenues. However, the relationship is a complicated one that requires careful nurturing as well as setting of boundaries. Just as a company may pursue more than one channel partner relationship, the reverse is also true.

That means a business may work with an organisation that also acts as a channel partner to its competition. Companies that understand how to pursue and manage these distribution partner relationships are already a step ahead.

Invest in the relationship

The ability to co-sell with partners, whether it’s through a channel partner, distributor, or another medium, is essential to success in sales profession. Salespeople should consider that this partnership represents much more than they could hope to achieve on their own. Working together closely and even engaging in social activities together helps to make an even greater partnership. Answering questions and going out on sales calls are two simple but important ways to strengthen the ties between the two.

Focus on the fact that both serve the customer

Having a deep understanding of their prospects and the general market is essential for any sales professional. Knowing buyers and markets at this level enables him or her to accurately predict which market channel a customer will choose to purchase a product or service. When the sales representative aligns his or her strategy around what the buyer needs, it enables the channel partners to do the same thing. This eliminates the common problem of sales partners wasting time nurturing leaders that are unlikely to result in a conversion.

Make promotional efforts a joint activity

Salespeople and channel partners working together to promote products or services just makes sense. The trade show is a perfect example. By appearing as the manufacturer or vendor, the sales professional can help to play an active role in lead generation. This scenario also allows the channel partner to better understand the techniques the salesperson uses to land new leads and close sales. Even better, it enables him or her to learn new strategies from someone who has in-depth knowledge of the product or service. Any scenario where the sales professional and channel partner can help and learn from one another is a good one.

Assign someone the task of overseeing sales channels

A strong partner channel relationship is valuable to individual salespeople, but it’s even more critical for the larger sales team. That’s why assigning an employee the role of managing and overseeing partner relationships is a good business strategy. Working individually or as the leader of a partner team, this individual should ensure that all partners have the tools they need for success. This includes training and incentives as well as any physical tools necessary to best serve the customer. Without such oversight in place, relationships with partner channels can ultimately suffer from neglect that causes a severing of the partnership.

All relationships take time and nurturing, and this one is no different. The good news is that the efforts can pay off in a big way through increased sales and greater loyalty.

Owen Gough

Fred Morissette

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

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