How do I increase sellers’ product knowledge?

By Anna Sophie Gross Feb 27, 2018

You run or manage a manufacturing company and you’re currently frustrated. Your channel partners regularly mis-sell products because they don’t have sufficient understanding of your offerings, and where they sit in the wider industry landscape. You may have even missed deals on price because your partners miss-judged the market. You’re constantly worried that partners will promise features you don’t have and you’ll end up having to build that functionality in a rush.

You know that any damage to your reputation caused by misrepresentation could prove fatal to the business.

If you want your channel partners to promote your products over others, speak knowledgeably about your offerings and rise to the more complex marketer-seller capabilities, you need to make sure they’re educated. If you want them to up-sell and cross-sell new launches and speak fluently to improvements in your product range, again, you need to make sure they’re educated.

Smaller partners tend to have less resources at their disposal so place even greater value on relevant training that can help them sell with greater skill and frequency. By extending your training to smaller partners and personalizing promotions and rewards, you’ll also make them feel valued, which will in turn increase their loyalty to your brand.

According to ChannelInsights, the need for sales and technical training were amongst channel partners’ two most desired objectives. They also expressed an interest in having the vendor share best practices in sales, marketing and market research.

On the whole channel partners don’t have the time or inclination to get up to speed on the latest product improvements. They also often wrongly assume that customers will upgrade when their previous product becomes obsolete so fail to push new ones.

Because contractors, distributors and VARs don’t currently have very strong product knowledge about any of the manufacturing products they sell, you can step in to fill the gap and make sure their knowledge about your products is better than any of your competitors. You should be providing and incentivizing training on product and industry trends which is free, customized and rewarded. This training needs to be relevant to your channel partners which means it needs to clearly demonstrate how their overall pie can be increased. Training should be extended to channel partners of all scopes and sizes.

There are a whole host of ways you can bring your channel partners up to speed on your offerings:

  • Provide your own in-house training where sellers come to you or you go to them and provide helpful and engaging face-to-face courses on your products. These could be annual or quarterly, and they could be video-linked so partners can get involved from anywhere in the world.
  • Run on-line training courses and webinars
  • Provide a wide range of industry materials and product info packs on an online portal

Forrester found that channel partners really appreciate workshops, videos, podcasts, and one-on-one consulting designed to address those cloud business model issues that flummox them most – accounting methods, cash flow management, service contracting, and line-of-business (LOB) targeted marketing and selling.

You then need to incentivize channel partners and employees to consume these educational materials by offering them rewards. These rewards can come in all different shapes and sizes. You can create a point system where once your sellers reach a certain number of points they’re entitled to a prize from your reward catalog, or a cash bonus. Or you can reward them with invaluable industry information, like untapped leads.

Manufacturers need to take it upon themselves to bring up a new generation of highly-skilled workers, creating a pipeline of channel partners who are armed with technological skills and first rate product knowledge which makes them killer sellers and a lucrative asset for the company.

Fielo helps channel partners improve understanding of vendor products and improves relationships between vendors and their channel base through tailored and value added training and education offerings, more frequent updates and improved information transmissions, all of which lead to more active promotion of vendor products over rivals and the up-selling of new releases.

Guide to Solving Channel Marketing Challenges