Modern Selling: Four Things Vendor Salespeople Should Be Doing

Feb. 12, 2020
Are your manufacturers doing them for you?
This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention @SecBusinessMag!

A few years ago, I was catching up with a friend of mine at a Starbucks. He was a VP of Sales of a video manufacturer, and he had six Regional Sales Managers reporting to him. He spent most of our hour together complaining about his team – not their results, but the work they were doing with their dealers and integrators.

He thought the sales team was living off the success of the economy and simply checking boxes every month – not bringing their channel partners value. More than once, he used the term “they are just doing their milk route.”

Ninety minutes later I was talking with the owner of a security integration company. During our catch-up, he shared the frustration he was having with his manufacturer partners. He was reminiscing about the days when RSMs rode in the field with them and brought value. In his words: “All they do today is email us updates and drop in when they need more business. They are just working their milk routes.”

Within ninety minutes, I heard the same phrase describing manufacturer salespeople as milkmen – they simply made their stops but brought no value. I immediately saw this as an opportunity and developed the following four ideas that all manufacturer salespeople should be doing. Are your manufacturer’s sales reps doing this for you?

1. Identify the Top 20%. You can’t make a huge difference with all your channel partners. The math does not work that way. For your region to be optimal, you need to proactively help the top 20% to identify and win the major opportunities, and respond to the bottom 80%, helping them win opportunities on their own. The secret is to identify the top 20% and treat them differently. It is not fair, but it is effective.

2. Pursue specific end-user accounts together. Working with the top 20% of your channel partners, identify a list of targeted end-user accounts that will bring you and your partner a ton of good business. Do your best to get them in the door. Approach these accounts in a synchronized manner: “You personally call on facilities, and I’ll have our inside sales team calling on IT.” Every time you are in the area, discuss these accounts with your sales partners. While you are targeting these few large accounts, your channel partners will use the same strategies and messaging to get in the door of their other accounts.

3. Deliver sales training. No, not that training you did last Tuesday – not the 46 slides about the differentiators of your product vs. your competition. I mean real sales training. How to schedule appointments; how to demo your solution; what questions to ask during the discovery phase. If you do not have the confidence to teach these skills, then you need to acquire it – this idea is that much of a difference-maker. Think about the amount of channel salespeople in your region that are representing you every day. If you can make them 10% better at their jobs, I promise that the results from their improvement will be far better than that.

4. Become a content machine. Bring a different message every quarter to your channel partners. Give them the content they need to make a difference with their end-user customers. For example, next quarter, teach them how to demo the reporting features of your system and give them to tools to deliver the demo to their customers. The following quarter give them a whitepaper about your technology and teach them how to present it to their end-user customers. The biggest need your partners have is content. They need content, and you have it. Bring it to them. Help them get in the doors and make an impact with their prospects and customers with excellent content … and they will never forget it.

Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (, a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. To request more info about the company, visit