Most companies that create products will not sell those products directly to their customers or if they do, they will have additional sales channels that sell as much as or many times more of their products. They will engage these sales channel partners, who will function as both distributors and point of contact on their behalf with the people that use their products.
If you engage sales channel partners you can expect that they will also have other products they are selling from other suppliers, some of which may be in the same product category and compete directly with yours. With this being the case and their importance to your business, you need to have a strategy to get them to focus on your products. Luckily, there are things you can do to get them to pay attention and use their best possible efforts to ring up the sales for your company. Here is a short list of channel partner management best practices to implement at your company to create wins:
Dedicate quality time to the relationship
This is an extremely important relationship and like all others, it requires that you put in the required time to understand how to best make it productive for both parties. Set meeting times with your channel partner to discuss your individual and mutual goals for your product, and what is required to make sure that the goals are met. Be prepared to learn things about your products in these meetings and do not be defensive when given critiques that you may not agree with or have experienced personally.
Ask for suggestions of how to make up for any shortcomings in the product or marketing materials, and how your company can do more to assist them to help you both win. The end result will be a great understanding between both companies and an agreed upon plan to execute. Throughout the working relationship you need to have regular meetings, particularly when there is a new product introduced.
Offer Strong Incentives
With many other products like yours in the stockroom, you need to give them a great reason to move yours. Offer them sales based incentives to get your product moving. Make the first incentive easily attainable so they are motivated to hit it and get into the flow of selling your products. Find out what incentives really get them excited. Sometimes its money and other times it can be freebies of the product. The best way to know is simply to ask.
Coordinate promotions together and where possible purchase promotions and social media buys together as well. Buy promotions on their sales channel which will provide revenue to them as you get an added benefit. The good ones will reciprocate with a discount or their own sales purchases. Make sure though that it is timed so that you do not do to little or too much at any one time.
Treat the relationship with your channel partner like you would that of a valuable employee. Know that if this relationship is successful, it can mean a lot for your business. Invest the time in the relationship and be proactive.