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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Does Your B2B Sales Outreach Stink?

I get dozens of emails, phone calls, texts, tweets, PM's, InMail, and every form of communication possible from sales reps each week trying to sell my company "stuff."  The vast majority of it is annoying, redundant, unoriginal, assumptive, gimmicky, and nothing we would be interested in.  This content generally doesn't even explain what they are selling in a way that makes sense, i.e. no value message about what they do, who they work with, and examples of results. 
Recently I received an email with the subject line "You're dead to us." It was just another subject line decoy and the entire email had a mean tone to it questioning why I haven't responded to their emails... it was apparently my "last chance to respond" at this stage.  Another was "Did I make you mad?" The opening line in the email reminds me I haven't responded to their previous emails and now they are going to call me.  Who writes this horrible content?? 
What gimmick-based content writers miss is that it isn't getting "opens" that count, it's engagement, value, substance, and ultimately ROI that count....they miss the point that emails like that aren't drawing prospects in to engage, they are repelling prospects from it. The open numbers are skewed if people look to see what the heck this thing is and then look and think "ugh....(delete.)" 
I presented at a LinkedIn Live event not long ago and I used one of the many poorly constructed InMails I receive via LinkedIn. One person in the audience considered it a success because I read it...I explained that using it as a bad example of what to not do in front of hundreds of people isn't success.
There is a silver lining to this: I get enormous exposure to what people are doing as well as the mindset of the people (and companies) that are doing it.  
I'll tell you exactly why this bad content exists....
It's the same mindset applied to content as is applied to using phone-based lead gen by people that don't have a high opinion of it. It's the same lack of consideration as telling the person that calls to introduce themselves and the next question is "are you the decision maker?" It is being unaware of the negative impact bad content (and ball calls) actually inflict on progressing relationships with prospects.
It's the same mindset applied to content as is applied to using phone-based lead gen by people that don't have a high opinion of it. 
What About Your Current Customers?
Another type of outreach to consider is developing existing customers, which is where a significant level of revenue growth often resides. I have a provider I use (the only reason is it's a hassle to change) that has some sort of trigger that comes up if I am not active on the platform in 45 days. I get an email with the subject "Do you still want to work with us?" In the email, there are 3 options, "a) Yes please run a report, b) Yes but not now, or c) No deactivate my account." It is so lazy it is unbelievable, and a very lame way to manage their customer base with no thought put into it. In my case, they could say "You have worked with us for 10 years, we really appreciate that! We haven't heard from you in a while, just let us know if you have any feedback on what we can do better. Otherwise, we appreciate you and looking forward to seeing you soon."  I would very likely spend more money with them if that was the tone of the communication I got, instead of "should we dump you now?" 
A newer feature added to asking for a meeting is for reps to share a link to their calendar to book something. Shouldn't it be the other way around? You want to meet to present your solution/product and then you want me to do the work to make it happen? It is an unbelievably lazy way to engage and doesn't show they put a lot of value on their prospect. 
What To Consider With Your Outreach
A simple formula to follow with content is outlined below. Especially in enterprise B2B, it's important to leverage those few seconds of the moment you have with your prospects mind to achieve impact by:
  1. Building trust and credibility 
  2. Establishing value in their industry community
  3. Sharing something insightful about their business
  4. Uncovering a situation/challenge they should explore within their environment
While it isn't always practical to cover all those points in every piece, prospects should leave with the experience that your contentwas worth their time to "consume." To really establish yourself as a value source for prospects takes more work, it means you have to spend time to better understand their businesses, their issues, the broken work-arounds they might be doing that you can fix. When you do that, and leave a take-away that made a difference, that is effective outreach.
If you are creating content internally, ask yourself when you tee up any new B2B sales outreach:
  • Are my prospects going to walk away with something they can use now? Is it provable? (stats, etc. post the reference to help them validate)
  • Am I addressing unique challenges and articulating it in a way they will grasp? (Not using internal acronyms many don't know)
  • Have I surfaced situations they might be unaware of or challenged with? Cite examples and sources.
  • Am I exposing an information channel they need to plug into?
  • Are my readers finding this a good use of their time, why? (see above)
  • Have I created a reason to talk with us?
By putting thought into sales outreach the engagement is much more likely, and the numbers you see are real and not inflated by clicks to see what something means. Some content is shorter, some is longer and gives you more real estate to work with messaging...but the important thing is to draw your prospects IN vs. annoy them to a point of avoiding your content. 
I'll look forward to your comments

Monday, August 08, 2016

Are You Avoiding Having Leads Crash and Burn on the Front Lines?

Are you able to see what happens to the leads your organization generates when they get to the live-engagement stage? Many marketing organizations have literally zero visibility of what happens on the front lines in sales; yet this is where the greatest attrition in your pipeline can occur when it isn't managed with some deliberate design.

It's relatively easy to monitor a prospect's journey with their digital interactions; you'll see their score change/rise, you see them more frequently (or not) or responding to the things you would expect them to. You can gauge the topics they are interested in based on their behavior, and then feed them more of the things they are interested in. You can measure and assign a value to most actions prospects do with your content, and you can create messages designed for a very precise response. That is the part you do with more of a hands-off approach.

The breakdown is when it goes to the live engagement phase of the journey. You team(s) may be distributed, segmented by geography, industry, company size, etc. 

The challenge is that the moment it goes to a rep, 5 things happen:
  • Independent decisions made by reps, some may be inexperienced, on how to handle the prospect
  • Individual interpretation of the opportunity/non-opportunity
  • Individual practices to engage. This is where management scratches their heads asking "why does Tracy connect with so many prospects and Brenda is at a 50% lower conversion rate?" or "Why do we never have issues with Tom closing business but Mike is constantly complaining about the leads?"
  • Understanding the prospect is only as good as the knowledge base the rep has personally developed
  • Follow-up is based on the workload of the rep and understanding of prospect behavior

Your best reps understand how to manage these intuitively, you will see that in their results. But all reps don't have these areas mastered or even understand what is going on from a "buyer psychology" standpoint and what their mindset should be at an early engagement stage. 
What this looks like in real-life:
  • Many different approaches with what to say, how to engage, overall attitude about the prospect, understanding and interpretation of the prospect's responses and behavior. Example: One rep may research a prospect, look at their company, get some background on them, and prepare some very specific crisp soundbites to open a dialog. OR, the rep calls and says "I saw you were on the site, I wanted to see if you are looking for something specific" and within 5 minutes ask if they have a budget.
  • Depending on the skills and confidence of the rep, the viability of the opportunity can appear more positive or negative. Example: A prospect says  they will bake something into their budget for your solution the following quarter, they want to have a brainstorm session, and see how to work together the following quarter. One rep may work hard to make something happen ASAP to get in there and add value and lock it up. OR, a rep would say "nothing is going on in here for months, I am not spending time on this." 
  • Engagement can be everything from sending a few emails, to a consistent effective approach that engages a very high percentage of prospects. Example: I didn't reach the prospect, they aren't interested. When asked "what did you do?" the answer is they called once, and sent 2 emails 3 weeks ago. The emails were pasted sections of older emails, and when the prospect opens it, it looks like a ransom note of fonts and colors. OR, a rep can understand people are super busy and it really does take a persistent effort that may entail 5-8 attempts to reach them.
  • Some opportunities need a well-informed resource that can quickly understand their environment and map the problems to the solution within their own environment.  Inability to do that, can leave a vendor out in the cold. Example: One rep may know specific challenges certain industries face, and can speak to those very fluently. OR, a rep can use the one-size-fits-all deck to present, and miss out on key areas to build confidence with the prospect. 
  • Workload of active deals, or late stage deals, has a direct impact on developing newer relationships with prospects. Example: If a rep has numerous active deals at late stages or deals closing that are demanding, new prospects are neglected just because of bandwidth.  

This is just a slice of what is happening out there.  Conversations aren't documented, engagement varies depending on who does it, depending on the reps personal approach or assessment, they may or may not get priority. These major decisions are left to a stage of the journey that can be a total black box, that no one has visibility into.
So what can YOU do?
  1. Find out what is actually happening. Get a sample of results from each team member using an apples to apples comparisons. The records, the discussions, the end dispositions--then compare.
  2. Have a true skills assessment of engagement and make sure everyone is equipped to have a high level of skills to engage. This includes understanding prospect behavior, what it takes to reach prospects, how to interpret responses, how prospects are mentally responding when they do certain things, etc. 
  3. Address the behavioral aspects of sales formally vs. product knowledge and more mechanical content. The real success comes from being able to real-time navigate what is happening during conversations and reading between the lines of what prospects say. Those are the skills that progress leads, not knowing how to explain a widget. 
  4. Equip your team with resources that help them understand the background of leads they get, i.e., what were they responding to, who was targeted, the content the prospects saw, the source list, etc. That helps them to have a vantage point of what they get.

There's much more to do in order to completely fine-tune this; but once reps understand the small things they do along the way make a difference is the first step.  Behavioral perception make zan enormous impact on results. I don't mean how to act right in a social setting, but understanding what is happening on the sales landscape, what kinds of thought responses to prospects have to certain actions, etc. 

This goes far beyond "social selling" in the sense it isn't just understanding how to mine data in the public domain, but really becoming a professional at the undercurrents of engagement and rising about the noise of the high number of approaches prospects get daily. When you equip your teams to really understand how to read between the lines of engagement, then you will maximize return on all of your programs across the board and see increased ROI with all of your efforts.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why Telesales 3.0™ Is NOW, Are You READY?

Over the last 16 years, we have always stayed a step ahead of trends affecting enterprise sales teams. We do that by taking the whole sales engagement into account of what we do, not just "calling them" and engaging. When companies understand the need to have the same level of peer level fluency at all stages, then they see results.

Another reason is because the foundational behavior of people hasn't changed. Social Selling is applying the same principles great sales teams have always used, understanding their's just doing it virtually now instead of in their office.

Being able to factor in buyer behavior, sales management modeling, technology shifts, current roadmaps for organizations and the resulting changes to how decisions are made to acquire enterprise platforms is what is needed for real sales development effectiveness.

You can't look at sales processes in silos of "marketing does this" and "SDR's do that" and the "direct reps do this.." What can result from not having someone that understands the big picture is a lot of disjointed activity that causes attrition as prospects move to each stage. Each stage sees less and less prospects, and some of ones that were lost those were closable deals. 

What's happened?  It isn't just one thing, it is many things that create breaks in the prospect relationship along the way. 

Just a few of those are:
  • Now engaging when the prospect want to engage and is making choices--this is often where you see BANT and out dated qualification methods in play.
  • Reps making decisions about how to handle prospects without understanding the big picture--today's buyers require precision with engagement, not just a "follow up" but a CORRECT follow up for the situation.
  • Neglect--one of the biggest problems I still see is sales teams don't do what it takes holding onto old-school tactics of 2 emails 2 calls and assuming prospects aren't interested. Sirius Decisions, Forrester, DGR, and many other respected industry sources, including the 1M+ engagements we have done ourselves, prove that to be wrong.
We have worked with organizational psychologists and many professionals to arrive at the design of our solution, this is why it gets results. Are you stepping up your team to align with real-world requirements? 

Doing so much work to help companies succeed with sales development is why cold calling works for their programs. I have said many times that people DO take calls, they just don't take bad calls.

Are YOU stepping up to the 3.0 world?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cold Calls or "Business Calls"....What Type Should Your Company Make?

For years there's been books, blogs, and articles circulated around the topic of "Cold Calling is Dead." Every week articles are flying around on Cold Calling's lack of ROI. I can't help but voice my complete disagreement with this when I see it, not only is it not dead but the effectiveness of it has increased over the years as it is the fastest way to find an opportunity.
One customer study showed 80% of large deals (>400K) closed from a tactical cold calling programs. An accident? No 
Why the opposing claims? Because what is being lumped into the definition of a "cold call" is actually more accurately defined as a "bad call."  And with the poor hiring profiles and technical fluency of many (both outsourced and FTE's) that operate in the "telemarketing" space, there is a high concentration of "bad calls" going on.  Those have always been a waste of time.
What is a "bad call?"  I'll give you a perfect example....not too long ago, I got a call from Suzy or Sally or someone I have no recollection of her name. She called my cell, and said she was with an F500 tech firm and I had downloaded a whitepaper on something-maybe I did, maybe I didn't. It didn't sound like something I did but "go on..." She then asks me my title, I asked if she had it already...she did, she said CEO. I asked her why she asked if she had it? She said CEO's don't normally answer their phone. I said this is my cell, so there is a good possibility I would answer. I asked if she had internet access and she did, so I asked if she does a quick search on people that have C-level or VP titles before she calls, she said no. Then she asked if I can send her to someone that does our networking and security management. I said "wouldn't you want to talk to me directly since it's my company?" Her response was a broad sweeping statement she read to me about security planning and network management this or that...and if I want a meeting. I said what you just said could represent about 100 different things. I asked if she wanted a tip for her next call--I said "we have spent the last 6 minutes talking about how I couldn't possibly be a CEO because I answered my phone, then when we established I'm the CEO you want to talk to someone else, the thing you want to talk about is such a broad sweeping statement that it could mean 100 different things and now I have to go. So you had a CEO on the phone you could have spoken to, and it has turned into nothing for your customer (they were an outsourced firm, I asked.) Next time, I would search who you are calling first, have something crisp to say that would be interesting based on their role, and when you have the person that's writing the check on the phone--don't make the first thing you ask for how to get to someone else." THAT is an example of a bad call.  I get them all the time, and rarely is one something I would pursue a further dialog with.
Companies that outsource/hire often look for the economy option because the stakeholder personally doesn't like getting calls, so they don't want to invest a lot in their call campaign, which actually  ensures they have bad calls made on their behalf.
Often, front-lines are staffed with people without any critical thinking skills, they are unable to real-time navigate and map what prospects say to engage and uncover opportunities. They are not adding value but can actually do damage to your pipeline.  This applies for FTE or outsourced resources, putting very junior people with very under-developed communication skills is going to cost you deals you could have had with a better front-line engagement model.
A customer of ours once said "I could never make cold calls..." I asked if they call people they don't know...they said they do all the time. I said that's what we do, we make business calls.  A business call is normal, people in business expect and welcomes them when they add value. There is tacit permission given to make a business call as an executive because part of their role is "doing business." If they weren't open to solve their challenges, they would not be doing their job. 
All the gobbledygook out there around cold calling, ROI, metrics, and activity measurement are often mapped to the results of efforts like the bad calls above--but did those ever work?  What is likely the cause of the appearance of a drop of ROI in bad calls is really the ability to have more accurate and granular measurement. Also, today's prospects are much more empowered to cut people off faster, and the sheer volume of poorly skilled front-line business development outreach going on in B2B has created a scenario where prospects are harder to reach. Often workflow is broken and applying methods from 1996 to today's unavailable buyers, so it gives the appearance the entire "medium" of calling isn't working.  
Measuring the results of actual business callsmade by people that know what they are talking about still show it is the #1 highest resulting activity companies can do.
Bottom line, if your first touch is someone that isn't a peer-match in conversation, understanding specific problems prospects face, and can think on their will impact results poorly. 
What is the fix?
  • Better hiring--make sure you aren't putting inexperienced people in the position to be the first experience prospects have. You want people that can uncover opportunities in a very short window of time, speak fluently with senior level stakeholders, and understand the environment they are calling into. I can recommend some staffing consultants that help with hiring, ping me if you need to connect with any.
  • Understand the purpose of cold calls. Cold calling uncovers opportunities, it tee's up engagements for the direct teams, it cuts through the noise of emails and SEO and all the things that drive prospects to the conversation. If you are uncovering millions of dollars of pipeline in your outbound effort and are not seeing it close, the problem could likely be downstream and sales operations needs to uncover the issue. Is it a sales execution issue? Product issue? Nurturing issue? Whatever it is, follow the breadcrumbs to see where the breakdowns occur and deals are lost. 
  • Have a process. Many times outbound calls are based on a list that wasn't vetted, reviewed, scrubbed. Calling into prospects that wouldn't be viable under the best of circumstances isn't going to get the results that a structured effort delivers. Have a model of data vetting that narrows your focus to viable prospects before you even pick up the phone.
  • Training. Many internal ISR's are trained on products, problems as marketing departments see them, features, etc. They are not trained on the psychology of buyers and how to engage with people with the same effectiveness as a face-to-face meeting. Understanding the undercurrents going on during a call goes a very long way to better connect and progress deals in the pipeline.
What are a few of the characteristics of a "business call?"
  • Peer level. The person doing the calling needs to engage as a peer, not talk up to, or talk down to, the prospect.  They should have command of the discussion and be able to articulate at the same level (or better) than the prospects. They should not have any confidence issues speaking with senior executives.
  • Agile. The person calling needs to be able to real-time map what the prospect says to a meaningful discussion that uncovers opportunities. They are not locked into a script, or an objective, i.e., if there isn't a meeting we don't want it. Having it all about a meeting, disables the discussion to turn into something meaningful. If the purpose of cold calls is narrow and activity based, the workflow and business development processes will be broken. 
  • Rich. A business call builds excitement for prospects, not create sales resistance. A business call is about "business value." It's about how problems are solved, provides a vision for the solution, allows a prospect to build a mental framework for how this can work...and in turn, they want to know more.  
  • Informed. Many cold calls are made by people that have very under-developed critical thinking and problem solving skills. Ask interviewees if they have a system for educating themselves? What are the last 3 business books they read? How to they educate themselves in a new space? What are some examples? How do they discover account information? How do they use what is in the public domain to leverage entry to an account? Many times, a high sales performer in B2C is completely unable to reinvent themselves into a B2B sale. Make sure the hire can sell in your space, your sales landscape, to your buyers. It doesn't have to be a 1 to 1 match of products, but a sales environment selling printers in volume to a commodity buyer in procurement is very different than selling a supply chain platform to an IT organization. Make sure their success maps in theory to yours. 
These are just a few of the elements to consider.  Investing the time to build the model that works for your company isn't easy, but it pays off and delivers a measurable impact to revenue.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Are Your Prospects Apologizing? They Should Be....

A common topic among B2B sales teams is how difficult it can be to reach prospects. My team often makes (8-10+) attempts to reach prospects (more in some cases,) which is a reflection of the fact that people are extra busy in today's B2B environments. It takes a very coordinated effort of skill, expertise, and persistence to reach prospects and is much more than a "numbers game" as so many people believe. Rather, not only do you need to know how to sell, but also the psychology of engagement, and preparation to maximize the moments you do get.
What could you be doing right when prospects are apologizing?
 Even though there is a requirement for a much higher level of persistence in today's B2B selling landscape, old habits die hard and the habit of '3 strikes and you're out' is still very alive on the sales side (2 is even common, 2 emails and 2 calls.....) What that means is a typical effort to reach a prospect is a couple of voicemails and an email, and if the prospect hasn't responded by then, the rep moves on thinking they weren't interested after all. I have heard reps say things like "if they were interested they would have called back" or "I don't have time to chase them" to "I'm not going to waste time leaving voicemails, I sent an email--if they don't respond they aren't interested." Right when a follow up engagement is starting to get on a prospects' radar, many reps gives up and it's two ships that passed in the night. Sound familiar?
Recently, I was talking with a client of ours who gave me an example of how he had to call one prospect more than 5 times. It was someone that initially was very interested but went quiet. My client said he felt sure there was something there and persisted, and to his surprise the prospect was very interested and nothing had changed, he was just busy. We agreed most sales reps would have given up by then. I asked "did your prospect apologize when you connected with him finally?" He said YES, and how did I know? We have that happen all the time, it's an indicator of doing something right.
What does this mean to you when your prospect apologizes? It means they did get your messages, they had good intentions, and appreciate your persistence (This whole article is assuming this is happening with a professional peer-level outreach and not being a pest--which my other articles have mentioned.)
A few things to keep in mind:
  • Typically it takes around 3 discussions before relationships with prospects becomes reciprocal, which means those first 2 discussions may take extra effort to connect.
  • What is often interpreted as no-interest is really just "real life." It is important to put yourself in your prospect's shoes to understand what is really happening and not take it personal.
While reps give up trying to reach their prospects thinking they aren't interested, what really happens is maybe they were out of town, they were out sick, or things like their client called them ranting about a problem and they had to put out a fire, one of their staff had to leave on a family emergency, they had a key team member quit, because they get 300 emails and 15 vendor calls a day and there is a lot of competition for their attention, or because an enterprise platform they just bought crashed, or they have 200 sites offline right now because the network went down....the reasons are countless...but bottom line, the deal is still there and they are still interested.
The National Sales Executive Association had released some statistics a couple of years ago from a study that stated:
  • 2% of sales are closed from a single attempt,
  • 3% from two attempts,
  • 5% after 3 attempts,
  • 10% after 4 attempts,
but here is the whopper--
  • 80% of deals closed after making from 5-12 attempts.
Companies often do a "Did They Buy" Study on past leads that typically reveal that from 50%-70% of your prospects ended up buying something, but did they buy it from you?
Prospects tend to take the path of least resistance—so if you are making it easy for them to buy from you by being available and persistent, then you have increased your chances of closing the deal.
If you hear a lot of apologies from your prospects and progressing deals, it isn't a bad thing. If you aren't, then take a look at your process for follow up and ask if you might be giving up too early?
One thing you never want to do is start communicating in a punitive manner, mentioning they haven't responded or it is their fault you haven't connected. It can turn a warm prospect into a cold one.  Let them off the hook when you reconnect and remove any tension in a conversation, not add to it reminding them they haven't responded. First, you have no idea what is happening on their end. For all you know, they could have had a tragedy in their family or some other extreme circumstance. At a minimum they are so slammed they haven't been able to respond, and they may not enjoy their workload reminding them they aren't responsive isn't helping build a rapport for the future.  
When was the last time a prospect told you they were sorry they didn't call you back sooner?
I'll look forward to hearing your comments!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Are You Still Using BANT? You Are Losing Deals If You Are

BANT has been around for years, we still hear from companies that are looking for programs that deliver BANT qualified leads. We agree that qualifying criteria is important when it comes to ranking opportunities, for a number of reasons. A couple of those are:

  1. Having defined criteria surfaces the short-term opportunities so you are in the right place at the right time with the right resources
  2. Avoid wasted effort and resources being deployed on wrong prospects at the wrong time
Something to be careful of though is downgrading something that would be a strategic entry into an account or dismissing access to stakeholders and influencers in key accounts early in a buy-cycle because other aspects of the deal aren't fully baked yet. 

More often than not, vendor preferences are established well before the budget or timing is clear, and to miss that early window of engagement, which is also a window of influence, could mean missing the deal altogether. 

I have known of situations where a prospect's willingness to talk to a vendor wasn't pursued because it didn't meet BANT criteria (BUDGET - AUTHORITY - NEED - TIMELINE) and later when the account was revisited thinking everything would be aligned by then,  discovered another vendor got the business. What happened? Many times it was because the investment wasn't made in the relationship at an earlier stage, and when the deal materialized another vendor was well established in the account.

So before using BANT to determine your actions in an account, first look at your prospects and clients and determine what makes the most sense for YOUR actual sales cycle and sales environment.  

Ask yourself:

  • How long is our sales cycle?
  • When we engage at a later stage, are other vendors already influencing an outcome?
  • If we were in there earlier, would the outcome have been different?
  • WHEN do my prospects want to engage? Do we get gets calls and inquiries early in their planning cycle?
  • Is there generally a lot of white space between the time we know a deal is brewing, and when we start taking action to get it because of BANT?
Looking at the dynamics of the deals you close, will help you better position yourself both in effort and timing to make sure you have the highest possible chance of influencing early preferences and later decisions. 

Use BANT to help understand a prospect, but don't let it downgrade an opportunity unnecessarily and especially to a point of not engaging. Early engagement is highly valuable in today's market; examining multiple areas of your buyers' behavior will help you make intelligent decisions on how to build your pipeline. 

Happy Selling!!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Picking Channel Partners Based on Sales Environments, Not Just Industry Category

We do programs for channel organizations all the time, everything from identifying new partners to delivering MDF sponsored programs for channel partners directly. Regardless of the industry, there's common challenges within channel organizations I have seen over and over;  one of them is early on-boarding and adding partners that are truly going to generate revenue.  Successful partnering requires initial matching that goes beyond basic industry categories and also needs to actually identify sales environment synergies to accurately evaluate the potential.  When channel execs consider a potential partner from the vantage point of similar sales environments, it ensures introducing your product as a natural fit versus something that will derail a sales cycle and both sides lose.
The complexity comes in because your channel is both an extended sales team and a customer in a sense, you are serving them as a customer with support, information, training, time, access, etc.  Their "customer experience" with you impacts their level of success. As a sales team, they also increase your reach and visibility to gain greater market share and can quickly make a positive impact--but that depends on how they are supported as a "customer" in many cases. 
A way to think about it is just as you hire an internal rep based on experience and understanding of your selling landscape, the same principles apply to channel partners. An example is a rep may have achieved Presidents Club selling servers or network hardware, but may struggle in a professional services sales environment. Why?  Hardware and services are a completely different selling experience, not to say a rep can't move from one to the other successfully, but there are huge differences and some reps find it hard to make that leap. Channel partners multiply that challenge as they are generally running on tight margins, and can't afford a significant learning curve on a new selling landscape in addition to a new solution/product that impacts their existing productivity. They are only successful when additions to their portfolio fit in with the conversations they are already having and enhances their current solution, not distracts from it.
An example of this is in the IoT space; many equipment and device providers seek out complementary firms as partners but the sales environments can be totally different in every aspect, i.e. the stakeholders are different, the budget allocation is different, the sales cycle is different, and the investment is different. Not to mention many IoT OEM's go far up-chain and look at engineering or services firms as partners. In some cases it may work, but if their current sales process and environment is radically different, it will be tough to add your product into the mix successfully as their current sales domain is not .  
Another dimension of that to consider is your channel managers and are they able to transform a sales team of a different product set to sell yours when the partner's selling landscape today is very different.  
The complexities can be many, but the best way to eliminate a challenge preemptively is to match sales environments (or at least know what you are dealing with) up front as a first level of vetting.
As the OEM,  enabling a new channel partner requires a lot, some of those things being: 
  •  Ongoing training and supporting their sales team to close business
  •  Incentivize  the partner to sell and promote your products--that can be in the form of leads and marketing incentives; if the partner is working in a different sales environment throwing leads over the fence just to be neglected and mismanaged is leaving revenue on the table.
  • Staying in tight communication about new products, new releases, new features, etc. And having transparency into any challenges the sales team has in promoting those.
  • Participating in sales calls, contract negotiations, etc.
As the channel partner,  there is also a big commitment. Some of which includes:
  • Training your sales team which often requires going off-line for a bit to learn about a new product and company.  
  • Engaging your OEM and involving them in the process. A new topic of discussion can invigorate a sales team, and create new opportunities.
  • Helping your team understand WHY this is a good fit, and WHY this expands their footprint in accounts.  Assuming everyone "gets it" can leave huge gaps in execution.
We work with many channel organizations, and when companies are able to fine-tune these areas, they can make a huge impact for both parties. 
I'll look forward to your comments on how you have modified your partner selection!