Forty years ago my five siblings and I took mandatory turns to act as my Dad’s remote control. It was the time of indentured human remotes and random flipping or recording programs hadn’t been invented. Television was a planned event using the weekly TV Guide in a religious, ritual fashion led by our patriarch. “It’s time to change the channel,” he would announce and we would all argue about who was up.
Well it’s time to change the channel again but not the TV channel –your external sales and distribution channel. No, I don’t mean get a new channel. I mean change the behavior of your channel with training and certification to drive measurable business results.
Ironically, while many corporations strive to change the behavior with learning technology, still more continue to send out indentured human trainers for point-in-time sessions as they have for decades. Every time I encounter an organization relying primarily on trainers, I can almost here Dad saying “Channel 3 please.” At least we all moved on with TVs.
What Is An External Channel?
The channel can go by many names including partners, value added resellers, franchises, dealers, distributors, retailers and agents to name a few. The external channel is the part of your extended enterprise responsible for selling and distributing your products and services, but you don’t hire them, they are not your employees and you usually can’t tell them what to do. In most cases, the channel sells and distributes more than just one organization’s products so your growth, brand and livelihood are in the hands of a third party that also can represent your competitors’ products.
The only way to gain and keep mind share in your channel is to provide them the support and knowledge to be able to sell your products and services easier than the competition’s. In the heat of the sales moment, salespeople will sell what they know best and will not remember a 3-day training session in 2012. They will remember the constant push of learning and tools that helps them take this particular prospect to customer status.
There is only one measurable way to have an ongoing relationship with your channel and their employees — a Learning Management System (LMS).
Why Change the Channel Behavior?
Organizations in every industry globally use a LMS to train and certify their channels as a competitive differentiator and also to make money, save money and reduce cycle times. When you gain the mind share and thus change the behavior of your channel, you too will enjoy these top 10 measurable benefits:
- Increase sales and revenue from each channel partner or distributor
- Create a new revenue stream from sale of content
- Decrease time to market with new products
- Decrease time to proficiency of new channel partners
- Decrease cost to penetrate into new markets
- Increase end customer satisfaction
- Increase brand and product awareness with channel
- Decrease technical support calls
- Decrease traditional training costs
- Increase channel’s ability to cross sell and up sell
Measuring the Impact of Changing Behavior
It is easy to measure the business impact of channel learning if you have a learning management system. A LMS will allow you to report on channel partners and what content they have consumed and certifications they have earned. Comparing trained vs. untrained channel partners’ performance in sales, number of support calls or any of the above metrics will show you the measurable impact of your training efforts. It can be huge. Need real-life examples?
What Do You Need to Get Started?
You don’t need to buy and implement a complicated and expensive system to train, certify and communicate with your channel. You can start small and inexpensively, prove your results and grow from there. Channel learning is a process not an event. You really only need three things to get started:
- Learning Management System (LMS) to house and manage all your content, partners and their employees and the relationship between the three.
- Product and Sales Content of any medium including instructor led, virtual classroom, eLearning, video, audio, infographics, how-to guides, documents, games and more. Some of the content you develop for your sales team can be repurposed, sometimes without revision, for your external channels.
- Measurable Success Criteria to get initial budget, prove the business impact and grow your solution.
Changing your channel’s behavior is a competitive advantage. It can be as simple as a piece of content and a test or you could have programs that have multiple levels and take months or years to complete. Regardless, having the proof that users consumed content is the baseline you need to prove that the content improved the business in some way. More importantly, it allows you to provide your channel with tools to make them more successful and isn’t that why they are in your channel in the first place?
Sure beats sitting on the floor next to the TV.
Do you Need Help Getting Started in Channel Learning?
That’s it. You’re sold. Time to buy an LMS except you don’t have time to figure out which of the 600 LMS with thousands of options that you need. We can help. Contact us for a complimentary consultation call: