A Reseller's Guide: Creating A Successful Solution Provider Event2:20 PM EST Wed. Nov. 14, 2012
Our last post focused on the importance of nurturing the reseller-vendor relationship to ensure lasting success. In this post, we put that relationship to work.
Coaxing a sale out of a prospect typically takes a great amount of time and effort to achieve, as any good salesperson knows. In channel programs, there is an advantage: a tag team of resellers and vendors to double the effort. Channel events, which bring together resellers, vendors and multiple prospects to introduce vendor solutions or services that address a specific business need, provide the perfect backdrop to showcase the strength of a reseller-vendor relationship and their mutual goal to drive sales.
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Assuming your reseller-vendor relationship has been established, the following steps present a framework for executing a successful channel event.
1.) "He Who Fails to Plan, Plans to Fail"
There's a reason this proverb is so famous: It's true. Before assigning responsibilities to either the reseller or vendor, before inviting prospects or selecting your venue or pulling together your presentation, develop a complete but simple event plan. Start by determining the goal of the event. Is it to close deals or engage new prospects? Creating a list of attendees is also part of the planning stage. When compiling your list, pay careful attention to who the most appropriate prospects might be. Are they executives? Mid-level managers? Once this has been determined, tailor your presentation accordingly. The number of invitees will also determine whether the event will be a small, intimate gathering or a larger group.
Deciding which day of the week the event will be held is also key. Remember that midweek is best: Mondays and Fridays are often used to extend weekend getaways for many lucky folks, and statistically speaking, Mondays are the most popular sick days. Aim for a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday instead. Next, determine how many invitations and reminder emails you'll send out, and work backward with a timeline. This will keep your event planning on track so last-minute (and often unwelcome) surprises are minimized.
2.) Divide and Conquer
Keep in mind this is a co-sponsored event, so resellers and vendors must divvy up responsibilities, share resources and agree on methodology. A complex MS Project program can be used, or even something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, but there must be some system in place to track and itemize all that must be done and which party is responsible for each task. Determine whether the reseller or vendor will draft the invitations, reminder emails and calendar invitations, for example, and who will make follow-up calls to ensure a satisfactory turnout. This is also a good time to decide who will pick up the tab at the close of the event. Depending on whether the reseller has an established run rate, the vendor may take on this responsibility. But these channel events are also an appropriate way to dispense a reseller's accumulated marketing development funds.
NEXT: Location, Time And The Final Steps
3.) Choose Your Event Venue Wisely
When selecting your meeting venue, consider the real estate agent's mantra: Location, location, location. The most important thing to remember is to make attending the event as easy as possible. Check in with each prospect the day before, and provide directions with a map for reference. Make sure the venue you select has ample parking as well.
The right venue is also instrumental in facilitating better communication and ultimately better return on your event investment of time and money. Ideally, your event should take place at a venue that is conducive to face-to-face interaction. Though entertaining, sporting events and restaurants that feature arcades and games hijack the prospects' attention and take the focus away from your presentation. Instead, select a family-style restaurant that forces all event attendees to interact. If this is not possible, consider a fixed menu so ordering time is minimized and streamlined.
Also note that the number of prospects attending can depend on where the venue is located. In metropolitan areas, for example, you can expect a smaller turnout unless the venue is located within walking distance of the business district.
4.) Be Respectful of Your Prospects' Time
Your prospects may not have a flexible schedule, so make the most of the time you have with them and respect their availability. Start on time, keep the conversation moving and wrap it up within an hour.
5.) Reach Out to Prospects Post-Event
Don't give prospects a chance to forget the event. Resellers and vendors must share the responsibility to follow up with their prospects afterward -- the sooner, the better. Staying top of mind is critical to turn a prospect's initial interest into a sale.
The five aforementioned steps are, indeed, the basics to ensuring a fruitful channel event, but additional details can enhance the prospects' experience while there and ensure a smooth execution. They include the following:
- Make sure all attending representatives from the reseller and vendor are at the venue before prospects arrive.
- If possible, create place cards for the table, and seat prospects strategically to help facilitate smooth interaction.
- Make available name tags and pens.
- Gather business cards.
There are, of course, always wrenches that are thrown in to mar a perfect setup. But by investing significant forethought into the planning and execution of a channel event, resellers and vendors can capitalize on their partnership to close those coveted sales.
PUBLISHED NOV. 14, 2012