Why is Your Sales Team Still Delivering Collateral?
Setting your Channel Sales Team up for success often involves removing obstacles that they’re not equipped to address on a regional, local or individual level without support from their Sales leaders. This includes eliminating the kind of systemic distractions often embedded in outdated Channel Marketing programs, as we began to address in the previous article, Channel Sabotage: Is Your Channel Marketing Strategy Undermining Your Sales Team? In this article, Part 2 of the “Channel Sabotage” series, we’ll take a look at why you can’t afford to let your Field Sales Reps waste valuable time on delivering marketing collateral and how to get them back on track, so they can focus on sales.
The Challenge: A Trunk Full of Collateral
In my 18 years of helping build indirect Channel programs, I have consistently heard one complaint from senior management: “Our Partners aren’t using the right materials!”
When your executive team visits brick-and-mortar Partner locations, they inevitably find that a Partner is using old signage or displaying outdated offers. Even promotional items may be last year’s models. When sitting down with service-oriented Partners that don’t sell to customers in stores, executives find similar problems. The Partners might have the wrong marketing collateral or one-sheets of expired promotions. They may even be outfitted in last year’s branded clothing.
The reason this happens is that the Channel Sales team is often responsible for delivering these items to Partners.
Don’t believe me? Do a trunk check. Go to any Channel Sales reps or field marketing reps you have and ask them to open their trunk or the back of their SUV. I can tell you what you are going to find: posters, standees, huge stacks of collateral and probably multiple demo items or giveaways.
The sad part is, if you had opened a Channel Sales rep’s trunk in 1965 or 1985, you probably would have seen the same thing. Brands have acclimated to the idea that this is the way Channel Marketing and Sales works: Your field team is the primary funnel by which all marketing is delivered to Partners.
This is wrong for so many reasons:
- INEFFICIENT AND EXPENSIVE
First, this outdated process is very inefficient. With centralized asset distribution and an incredibly competitive shipping market, it is far cheaper to send items — posters, collateral, POS displays — directly to Partners.
- ROOM FOR ERROR
Secondly, depending on Channel Sales reps to deliver marketing materials opens the door to significant human error. Marketing is creating huge amounts of collateral that should be put in front of customers. Having a salesperson or field marketing manager try to keep up with what goes where creates a less than ideal result. Some items will be lost. And there will be inconsistencies regarding which pieces were delivered to which Partners.
- WASTE OF TIME
Most importantly, asking field sales teams to deliver materials takes precious minutes away from the limited time they have to focus on selling.
Imagine that a field marketing manager or Channel Sales rep has 20 Partners in their territory. They want to get to every Partner every week. That is four Partners per day. If the rep wants to spend at least an hour with every Partner, half of every day is dedicated to coaching and training Partners. Toss in travel time, internal sales meetings and administrative work that probably takes up the rep’s entire week.
Now, let’s focus on that hour. Imagine that the Channel Sales rep shows up at 10 am. The Partner is ready and available. First, the rep has to make sure it is ok to bring in the materials without disrupting customers. By the time the rep gets the Partner to give them the go-ahead, five minutes are gone. Next, the rep goes to get the materials from the trunk, and another five minutes gone. Explaining what’s what to the Partner and helping with display takes another five minutes. That’s 25 percent of the total time the Channel Sales rep has to talk to Partners about selling — but instead, it’s been dedicated to administrative work.
Partners need to understand how to probe for need, how to recognize pain points and how to align product benefits with those pain points to drive more sales. If you believe, as I do, that sales is a craft and not a talent, then losing a quarter of the time that should be dedicated to coaching Partners is totally unacceptable.
Getting It Right: The SproutLoud Solution
The SproutLoud platform takes the Channel Sales team, or field sales reps, out of the marketing equation. Partners log into the SproutLoud Platform through a custom Partner Portal, where they can see all the collateral, POS materials, promotional items and clothing they need in one simple web-based portal. They are able to order these items with a click of the mouse. For marketing materials that are covered through Co-Op Advertising Funds, there’s an added benefit for both Partners and the Brand with SproutPay Instant Funding. With SproutPay, both the Partner’s portion and the Brand’s portion of the payment are immediately applied — which eliminates the need for a cumbersome and time-consuming claims and reimbursement process. And the items being ordered — everything from a new brochure to a plexiglass display frame — can be sent directly to the Partner’s location with Ship-to-Your-Door convenience.
Now, let’s say that you believe there is value in having your field team talk to Partners about the latest and greatest items on a campaign — no problem. Partners can still engage on these items, but you are still getting back over 15 percent of that sales coaching time back.
Read the next article in the Channel Sabotage series: