How to Effectively Evaluate a Sales Channel Partner Part 1

Part 1 of 2

After much consideration and internal deliberation, you have decided that the best path to increasing revenue is augmenting a portion of your sales. Your strategy is set and board-approved: You will be outsourcing a segment of your target customer base to a sales channel partner.

In addition to looking for some key capabilities in a potential sales channel partneryou must carefully evaluate the ability of that partner to produce results. Furthermore, you must determine if the sales channel partner you’ve entrusted with your brand can produce the desired sales in a way that conforms to your expectations.

Below, we’ll offer insights and questions to ask when gauging the ability of the potential sales channel partner to produce results. In our next post, we’ll address key components to evaluate once your sales channel program goes live and succeeds in the long term.

Pre-Launch Sales Channel Considerations

Certain critical processes should be in place at your sales outsourcing partner’s firm that occur before any sales representatives are recruited. These stepping stones lay a solid foundation for a successful relationship between your newly hired salespeople and your brand. You should demand only the most transparent, comprehensive pre-launch considerations be given to your program in the following areas:

Recruiting

Since your sales channel partner will be directly representing your brand, the recruiting methodologies and offers must be in line with your culture and expectations. Ask the following questions:

  • What does the “package” look like to a recruit? Consider whether your sales channel partner will employ salespeople on W-2 basis or a 1099 basis, and what the different options mean in terms of management. Understand the scope of the package for the individual sales representative, including benefits, paid time off, compensation during training, career path opportunities, and tenure of peers in other programs. Is this a package that would be attractive to the type of person you want in the marketplace representing your product and brand?
     
  • What is your sales channel partner’s approach to recruiting? Ask where they search for candidates and what their job posting/advertisement looks like? Don’t be shy: Request examples of past postings. It’s important to ensure the sales channel partner's recruiting approach is in line with and mirrors your company culture, as this will increase the likelihood of attracting candidates that understand your values and speak your language.
     
  • What is the human interaction in recruiting? In the modern world, this is an often under-appreciated aspect of recruiting the best people for the job. But with modern technologies such as video chats, the face-to-face interaction with candidates nationwide can be an integral part of the recruiting process. Ask your sales channel partner who potential employees will be talking to, and what training that person has received to ensure an accurate portrayal of the position and the brand. It’s critical that the recruiting function of the process ultimately reflects the way you want your brand represented in the market.
     
  • If drug screens are part of your contract, what service does the sales channel partner use? The extent and accuracy of drug testing can vary widely in terms that may be very important to you. If you won’t be satisfied with a screening company that visits the sales channel partner's facility to perform cheek swab tests, you must discuss this as a priority from the outset and explore the options available through your sales channel partner.

Confidentiality and Brand

Your confidentiality is top of mind, and you’ve taken steps with the sales channel partner to protect your information. But what measures does your sales channel partner have in place to ensure your privacy? Ask the following questions:

  • What are the repercussions if there is a privacy violation? Find out what documents the sales channel partner's employees are required to sign, and obtain copies. Ask what labor law firm was consulted in the preparation of the documents. To ensure this information is on file and available to you as needed, designate the amount of time the employee file must be kept. Run independent audits on files to ensure appropriate retention.
     
  • What is your policy on independent marketing materials? The answer to that question is simple: They should not be allowed. You’ve invested far too much time, money, and energy to develop your brand and maintain control of your messaging to have it polluted by generic materials supplied by another firm. Your sales outsourcing partner should support your brand image, not dilute or pollute it!
     
  • How will you on-board a new employee? Find out what the new hire will learn about your company and how much information will be made available to him or her.
     
  • Do the sales representatives have appropriate knowledge to be in the market selling my brand? Check into the testing conducted and how the results are utilized. Ask how the test results are maintained, and, if so, for how long.
     
  • How do you keep up with legal requirements? It’s critical that your sales channel partner keep abreast of changes in labor law at the federal, state and local levels in which you will be operating.

Have questions about how Netpique can help with your sales efforts in a manner that is in line with your company culture and brand? Contact us today.