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Channel Matters Blog > December 2013 > Beyond the Numbers: Transitioning Your Go-To-Market Model – Part 1

Beyond the Numbers: Transitioning Your Go-To-Market Model – Part 1

by Rich Blakeman
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With more and more sales organizations moving to a hybrid go-to-market model or looking to increase the contribution of their indirect sales in 2014, this is a good time to discuss the best way to make the transition smoothly and effectively. While moving to an indirect or hybrid model may make sense on a spreadsheet, at the end of the day, sales leaders need to ensure the transition is executed in a way that actually promotes growth and productivity, rather than hindering it.
Sales organizations transition from direct to indirect models for any number of reasons:
  • A product at a mature stage in its lifecycle no longer warrants a direct sales force.
  • The organization, looking to improve productivity, might decide to focus the direct sales force on larger, more strategic accounts.
  • Certain buyer segments need or appreciate the accessibility of a channel.
  • The market is buying through new channels such as retail or online.
  • A new competitor has entered the market, changing the competitive landscape.
Running the numbers
The reason an organization moves to an indirect channel is often as unique as the organization itself. However, the one thing many of these organizations have in common is that they have used a spreadsheet or other modeling tool to prove to themselves that the indirect model makes financial sense.
But “running the numbers” is only half the battle. Now, they need to execute.
Clearly, the entire organization can be impacted by a change in the go-to-market approach, but there are three groups that warrant special consideration: your sales team, your channel partners and your customers. Since a defining attribute of the World-Class Sales Organization is that they put their customers at the heart of their business, it makes sense to start there.
What Matters Most
When we work with companies that insist they follow their sales methodology to the letter, but still aren’t seeing results, you can bet it’s because they’ve lost sight of the customers’ buying process. You see, customers couldn’t care less about how you sell. All they care about is how they buy.
Let me give you three examples of where your go-to-market plans may be out of synch with your customers’ buying process.
Skills - Does your current partner channel have the skills necessary to understand and follow the customer’s buying process? For example, if your primary buyer often needs help building a business case for buying your product, you need a channel that can fulfill that need. You will either need to train your channel partners to meet your customers’ needs throughout the entire buying process or find a way to augment your channel partners’ skill set.
Competitive advantage – Will your market see an indirect channel as a competitive advantage or disadvantage? If they are accustomed to buying direct, what value can a partner channel provide to help them overcome their resistance? Convenience is one value-add that many organizations have successfully leveraged. By recruiting more qualified partners closer to the customer, sales and service processes can be accelerated.
Expertise – Does your buyer want to work with someone with professional expertise? Doctors want to be sold to by doctors. Lawyers by lawyers. Teachers by teachers. While finding former professionals-turned-salespeople isn’t always easy, a market that requires professional expertise needs a channel that can fulfill that demand.
Unique markets have unique buying processes. Even within markets, the buying process may differ by product line. Sales leaders need to sit down with their teams and map out the buying process for customers in each of their target segments. Input from a few trusted customers wouldn’t hurt either. Only when the process is fully understood can you make sure your go-to-market plans meet the needs of your customer.
In my next post, I’ll take a closer look at how a change in your go-to-market approach affects your direct sales team and show you ways to overcome one of the biggest hurdles in any transition. In the meantime, if you have questions about transitioning your go-to-market model, you can use the comment box below or reach out to me directly at
Last modified on 3/5/2014 9:21:51 AM
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