The Ultimate Guide to Channel Partners

Setting Up Sales Channels

Setting up channel partnerships in the energy market is riddled with its own unique challenges and huge upside potential.

It’s easy to get caught up in the promise of easy sales and new leads. However, we suggest taking the time to bake out these very important details of your sales strategy. It is critical to have multiple sales channels both internal and external. Internal sales provides you a predictable and manageable revenue stream. Third party sales provides a wide net and deal volume–albeit less predictable. Once the low hanging fruit is gone, strong partners will help you with deeper market penetration.

Does the potential broker/agent share the same values and mission that you do?

Trust is the basis of any relationship. If you aren’t sure if you can trust an agent with your company’s reputation, think twice.

Does the channel partner have relevant experience, a verifiable track record and references?

This is easy to verify by looking at LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp and other publicly available resources.

Have your communications been professional and leave you feeling that the partner will follow up and follow through with clients?

The last thing you want is to create more work for yourself with brokers who do sloppy or incomplete work or worse, who disappear once they send a lead in. Therefore, focus on quality over quantity when it comes to channel sales.

Are your commissions attractive enough?

The best channel partners will be wooed by multiple suppliers, so ensure you set your company up for success in the long term. If you know a great channel partner is out there, but you aren’t getting any business from them take a look at your fee structure and your level of support. Are emails to your company going unanswered? Are you giving out small referral commissions to try to save money? Calculate the COGS on direct sales and make sure what you’re offering is fair and attractive. Remember, it’s better to get 80% of something rather than 100% of nothing.

Do you have an on-boarding process in place to sign on and train your third party sales partners?

You should invest in adequate channel management on-boarding and support or you will quickly find yourself wasting time answering the same questions over and over again. Prepare a broker, reseller and referrer agreement–these are three different types of sales channel arrangements. Brokers typically sell projects from start to finish with your assistance and some may even provide their own facility audits — the contract is still signed between the end user and your company; a referrer will usually just send “hot” leads for a lesser commission than a broker; and a reseller will take physical inventory and needs special licensing.

Managing your Channel Partners

Know the difference between these types of channel partners and be ready to transact with them in their preferred way. We strongly suggest internal account managers who can provide your brokers with updated pricing, product news, technical information and other items after they are signed on. Just like you nurture customer relationships, you must nurture channel partners! If you know they are out there doing business, but they aren’t doing business with you, find out why.

In the end, the only way the clean energy future will become a reality in any meaningful time frame is through third party channels.

If you’d like to join PartnerStitch, the premier third party clean energy brokerage firm inquire with them or with Energy Partner Network. Experience how a full stack sales and marketing partner can help you grow your top line revenue in new ways.

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