As I mentioned last week, the manufacturer members of our Industrial Channel Research program just completed a large-scale survey of their channel partners’ sales people. In this recent survey those channel partner sales people were asked to evaluate their supplying manufacturers on about 20 different criteria.
The lowest average rating received across the board was for “marketing programs are effective and frequent enough.” On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best), our manufacturers averaged a 3.1, barely above ambivalent. What does this tell us about the state of current manufacturer marketing programs in general and how can you use this information to improve your sales figures?
At first blush, it’s easy for manufacturers to dismiss this feedback by saying “I’m looking to create value for end users, not be the special of the day.” Fair enough, but having been on many ride-alongs with channel partner sales people I can tell you this: A good marketing program gives a channel partner representative an excuse to show up to sell.
Think about it… would you rather have your channel representatives show up at an end user’s door saying “Hey, I was just stopping by to see if you needed anything.” Or would you rather have them saying “I have something really interesting from manufacturer XYZ that I believe you’ll find valuable?”
Which approach has a better chance of opening the door to a lengthy conversation and leading to the sale of your product?
How do you create such a program? That’s a big topic, but mash up an interesting end-user solution, some channel partner sales person education, good collateral, maybe a sales and an end-user incentive and you will create a results-driven marketing program.
Bart Schwartz is President of Industrial Channel Research, a company focused on helping industrial manufacturers understand customer needs and perceptions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.