Whether you are a manufacturer, a service provider, a distributor or a research-based enterprise; it’s very likely that you aren’t isolated in your business eco system. You likely have an extended network of external partners and business associates that you engage with every day.
The question is: Are you leveraging those networks and the depth of their contacts within your industry to optimize sales opportunities for your own products and services? Using an Extended Enterprise LMS can help you do exactly that!
Extending the reach of an enterprise LMS
A Learning Management System (LMS) is a technology that helps companies organize, manage, track and deliver corporate training to its employees. LMSs are usually “internal” facing enablers. However, Extended Enterprise LMS solutions are tools that target the training and learning needs of your external partners – be they franchisees, distributors, customers, wholesalers, sales reps, or service technicians.
Savvy businesses today have come to appreciate the selling power that these external networks offer. By tapping into the power and capabilities of a common training platform, an Extended Enterprise LMS can convert a largely “passive” group of individuals (that sell and support your product or service), into a powerful “active” sales force for your company.
Here’s why you should consider using an Extended Enterprise LMS to drive up your channel sales opportunities:
Reach a broader prospective customer base:
Your external sales forces, service technicians and franchisees are your primary customers – whom you probably take “good care of” in terms of providing knowledge and information about your products and services. But, how about a secondary sales channel – their customers – who ultimately are the drivers that spur the demand for your services?
If your channel partners are well trained and educated about your products and services, they can better advocate on behalf of your products and services. In turn, if their customers are similarly better informed, it can lead to expanded sales opportunities for your company as well!
Tapping into consumer behavior and expectations:
Most Extended Enterprise LMSs enable you to track training patterns and behavior of individuals that use the system. By using these tools to support the training needs of an extended group, you create a powerful new sales channel assessment opportunity.
Use the LMS data to analyze what types of training are being undertaken by various external groups. This will give you a great idea about the types of products and services that a much broader group of prospective customers is seeking. You can then fine-tune your own sales efforts to tap into those expectations.
Proactive versus reactive sales strategies:
In most cases, internal employees (Sales Managers, Regional Marketing Directors and Training Leads) don’t usually have their fingers on the pulse of customers and prospects. However, your external partners- such as franchisees and distributors- often do!
By using an Extended Enterprise LMS to create training and education opportunities for your network of external partners, and empowering them to better train and educate their customers on your products and services, you can develop an informal “early warning system” about potential sales channel issues.
If learner feedback, through polls and surveys, indicates that a particular group of channel partners (Sales Reps, for instance) isn’t as familiar with your company or its solutions, then you can immediately step in to remedy the situation before it results in real loss of sales opportunities.
Customized training and learning needs:
The training needs of internal audiences, such as Sales Managers and internal Customer Service Reps, are different than that of external resources (such as external Technical Support Associates). That’s because each of them has a different “user focus”.
Employing an Extended Enterprise LMS helps you develop training content that best fits the needs of your audience – both internal and external. As a result, your external partners will be much better prepared to act as true Brand Ambassadors (BAs) and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for your solutions. And, for any company that’s heavily dependent on selling, these two roles (BAs and SMEs) are crucial for the successful growth and expansion of your sales channels.
Helping your partners close deals:
To be successful, you need to constantly be “closing” deals with your channel partners. But, ultimately, their success depends on their ability to close deals with their own customers and prospects.
By leveraging an Extended Enterprise LMS, you could bring all channel partners on-board with using your products and services by hosting “awareness sessions” and “information sharing” events that get everyone on the same page.
When your partners’ customers see a uniformity of messaging from principal (your company) to subsidiaries (your extended partners), they are more likely to close deals with your extended partners.
Other Extended Enterprise LMS opportunities
Typically, since we are talking about training and learning, Extended Enterprise LMS opportunities would be seen through the lens of educators and trainers. However, that’s just one side of the coin. Extended Enterprise LMS can also support your extended channel partners in a number of other ways:
- Develop and offer proprietary company information that your sales channel partners require to perform their jobs
- Offer Sales Channel Certification programs, so that each role (Franchisee, Technical Support, Service Technicians) can get expert-level knowledge about your company, products and services
- Help external Channel Partners onboard their new employees with specialized learning content
- Provide Channel Partners the tools and support needed to expedite the on-boarding of new customers
- Shorten your concept-to-market cycles by offering pre-marketing sales and support training to all channel partners well in advance of new product/service launches
- Use Extended Enterprise LMS capabilities, such as compliance tracking, to ensure that your external partners are always compliant with various (either statutory or your own corporate mandated) rules, regulations, policies and procedures
While some of the above opportunities (such as offering proprietary information) may need to be done pro-bono; others (such as Certifications and Compliance training) can easily be offered as a for-profit service to your channel partners.
In short, training external channel partners (whether they are your own or third-party partners) using an Extended Enterprise LMS can not only serve as a means of providing you a great sales funnel; but it can also offer you an added source of revenue.