Channel sales, also known as indirect sales or partner sales, are sales facilitated through third parties instead of directly through a company’s sales team. These third parties may be agencies, influencers, or distributors. This is a common go-to-market strategy amongst B2B (business-to-business) software companies.
Channel sales is often a far more efficient system for driving revenue than direct sales, since the company doesn’t have to hire a sales team. Rather, the company only pays if and when partners make sales. Typically, partners are paid a cut of the sale, so it doesn’t require the same degree of overhead investment or risk as hiring and training an inside sales team.
That being said, to unlock maximum growth potential, many companies opt to use both direct and channel sales. Since partners will likely have access to different audiences than your sales team, it’s often worth investing in both. The programs are usually complementary as opposed to cannibalistic.
Example: Lavender Ltd. drove 30% of their revenue last year via channel sales, up from 20% the year before.
A commission rate is the reward or payment associated with either a percentage of sale or payment. In partnerships, partners can earn commission on either qualified leads or on closed sales. The commission rate is the percentage of the value of that lead or sale that is paid to the partner.
The commission rate you offer should depend on how much the partner is involved in the sale, as well as how much work they’re doing to maintain the client over time. For example, you may choose to give affiliates a commission of 15% for one year, but give resellers 30% for the lifetime of the account, because they're doing much more work to sell and maintain that account over time.
Example: Giro's partner program paid a commission rate of 25% to resellers, who did more work to close a sale, and 15% to affiliates, who did less work to produce leads.
Cannibalism (also called product or market cannibalism) occurs when a product released by a company competes for market share with an existing product of theirs. The new product "eats" demand for the old, reducing sales and profit of their existing product. Some amount of product cannibalism is expected with new product launches, and companies normally consider the financial risks and rewards of releasing new products carefully.
Cannibalism can result in overall positive or negative effects on a company's bottom line, and can be either intentional or unintentional. When it's intentional, it's referred to as a cannibalisation strategy.
Example: Leo's team released a new file sharing software, but it soon became apparent that the demand for their other file sharing softwares was plummeting in favor of the new release. They'd caused cannibalism by putting out a product that ate up demand for their other products.
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