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Seven Dumb Mistakes Channel Marketers make in Deal Registration

Sridhar Ramanathan

By sridhar ramanathan
Posted on April 2014 in Channel Development

Virtually all of our clients rely extensively on channel partners to sell, market, deliver and support their products.  Some to a very high degree.  Some lesser.  I’ve listed here dumb mistakes we’ve seen again and again yet the converse of each of these is a best practice in disguise.

What is Deal Registration?

It’s a process whereby channel partners can “claim” a sales opportunity as their exclusive deal to pursue to the best of the vendor’s knowledge whose products they resell.  In return for registering a deal, channel partners typically get 8-15% extra points of margin.

Why is Deal Reg an important process to you (tech vendor) and your channel partner?

  • Protects channel partner’s investment in pre-sales efforts on specific opportunities within specific customers accounts
  • Reduces risk of channel conflict and customer confusion
  • Builds trust by ensuring confidentiality of customer engagement
  • Get visibility of your partners’ sales pipeline to increase your own sales forecasting accuracy/predictability
  • Improves the performance of your channel sales process end-end
  • Establishes consistency/fairness across channel partnerships

Dumb Mistake #1 – Have no written policies governing what it takes to qualify for deal registration.

How here’s an example of a Deal Registration process that has clear policies:

  • Discount (average 8-15%) for registering a valid sales opportunity.  Administer this discount by rebating against order received.
  • Competency —since you are passing along more margin to the reseller it’s important to set a minimum bar on “competency” in order to participate (e.g. technical training, certification, support level delivered to end users).
  • Product/service eligibility – which products and services are available for partners to claim Deal Reg?
  • Renewals eligibility—are renewals included or excluded from Deal Reg?  Most firms include renewals the first 5 years of doing business then begin to claw back the margin by excluding renewals.  Expect some partner dissatisfaction when that happens.
  • Deal Reg acceptance criteria – make it very easy/fast for partners to know how to get an online Deal Reg request approved.  For example, what does it take for you to approve a request?
    • Confirmation that no other partner is working this specific opportunity nor is it an existing direct customer.
    • Partner eligibility to participate based on product/service expertise.
    • Deal size meets minimum commitment level, if any.
    • Early disclosure – require partners to disclose a deal early rather than a day before the PO comes in.  The whole point of Deal Reg is to get visibility of partners’ pipeline.
    • Closure date – set specific time limit on how long the partner has to close the deal after which they may apply for an extension or you may choose to reassign to another partner.  Typical period is 90 days.
  • Rules of engagement versus direct sales – channel partners will share sensitive customer data only if they trust that you won’t poach their business.  Communicate the rules upfront on when and why a deal is taken direct versus via channel partners.

Dumb Mistake #2 – Ignore or take too long to decide on a Deal Reg claim.

Quickly convey accept/reject status to the partner, as this can be one of the most common sources of dissatisfaction and distrust in a partnership.  Make the decision and let the partner know if less than 24 hours.

Dumb Mistake #3 – Let’m twist in the wind by letting them deal with competitors on their own

Offer deal coaching – Deal Reg is a great way for you to coach, train, and enable a channel partner to become more effective in their selling.  Provide the toll free number for easy access to channel account managers.  Be sure to point to your channel portal or extranet for resources on competitive battle cards, presentations, webinars, solution briefs, and other sales tools to win business.

Dumb Mistake #4 – Make them go through a bunch of hoops

Streamline/automate the process – that means simplifying each step of the process in a way that is largely self-help online.

  • Partner submit Deal Reg web form
  • Approve/reject Deal Reg application within 24 hours
  • Allow Partner to request extension on expected deal closure date
  • Make it easy for partners to check status on other Deal Reg submissions
  • Offer a no-touch way for channel partners to get rebate/incentive for Deal Reg upon closing the deal

Dumb Mistake #5 – Don’t bother tracking the numbers

Monitor/measure performance – once the partner completes the Deal Reg form you lose visibility of the sales opportunity. Your channel partner manager must follow up on the distributed leads as part of ongoing business dealings with the partner.  The Partner Relationship Management (PRM) module should be able to alert the partner manager and the partner of the impending deal closure deadline, which may be set at 90 days.

Dumb Mistake #6 – Reward your partner for not following rules

Enforce your policies – you have 3 opportunities to assert control of the process – approval of Deal Reg request, approval of Deal Closure extension request, and granting the 8-15% rebate upon closed deal.  You enforce your policies by using these decision points.  Allowing deadlines to elapse with no consequence only teaches your partners to disregard your policies.

Dumb Mistake #7 – Take your time on dealing with exception requests or complaints

Handle exceptions quickly and fairly – expect some friction when you find you need to reject a Deal Reg or extension request.  It’s best to call your partner if you plan to reject a request so they are not surprised by your automated system response.  Take the time to explain the reasoning behind your decision and stay open to changing your mind if you are swayed by their arguments.  Strive to close out any exceptions or rejections within 24 hours so as not to damage the momentum in your relationship.  Remember Deal Reg is about averting channel conflict and encouraging both partners to work together to win new business.