We get lots of requests to help find and engage channel partners: direct or independent reps, resellers, sales agents, and big brands. Why this frequent request? The answer is always the same: to increase K-20 sales. For education market start-ups and for anyone leading a company with expansion in mind, having more feet on the street is the default approach. But, what we've seen over and over again is a push to hire reps or to engage third parties without being staged for success: being "channel ready." The result? The cost of sales rep turnover and failed channel partnerships is enormous for players in the product-centric education industry.
Because sales to schools often falls short of goals, we strongly advise leaders of organizations who want to expand their business to invest in a channel readiness evaluation. Like an annual physical exam, having a periodic checkup is best practice, but certainly, if you've recognized a need to build sales capacity, it should be a priority right now. While you could do your own check-up, just as you could assess your physical health, it is of great value to have an assessment conducted by professionals, by experts who know what it takes to succeed based on their own Edu sales and channel management experience.
What does it mean to be channel ready? Simply put, being ready means, you have what it takes for a sales rep or channel partner to get the job done. Mature education companies often need help because they think they are ready, even though sales are not on track. And, we find innovators, especially those new to the US market, who hope to sail in unchartered waters don't even know what's required. For that reason, we use our check list to guide the process, and a report card to grade readiness. The check list and the report card should be specific and relevant to the quirky education market to help you avoid stepping on famous school market sales landmines.
There's too much to unpack in this overview, but two of the check points on our list of essential success factors are often in need of attention before any recruiting process begins. We'll touch on those here. First, we sometimes discover that what is expected of a channel partner is out of sync with their skills and experience. You have to understand the profile of a successful partner and then be sure that those you engage with fit that profile. This seems pretty simple, but for example, we find managers who expect an independent rep to be able to generate demand and build the brand, or perform functions in the sales process that are rarely strengths of independent reps.
Secondly, there is often a lack of understanding of the management required for success. Managing sales reps and partners for success is the most critical need, and across the education industry, sales management skills and channel management experience are in short supply.
To learn more about how you can achieve greater success in the PreK-20 education market, please visit EducationMarketExperts.com.