Guest Column | April 24, 2019

The Exponential Power Of A Hybrid Sales Channel

By Rob Spee, Channel Journeys Consulting

Rich Blakeman, Author

Rich Blakeman


The Hybrid Sales Channel

Year Written



Today’s customers have more buying options than ever before. If you want your customers to keep buying―and your company to keep growing―you need to rethink and retool the way you’re selling. You need to go “hybrid.”


Denver, CO

Channel Experience

19 Years

Sales Experience

40 Year

“The hybrid car has a battery, a gas engine, brakes. All are designed for a very specific purpose … they each are used for what they are best at. The same thing can be applied to selling by taking advantage of the unique strengths of the direct and indirect sales force.” Richard Blakeman, The Hybrid Sales Channel

Why are so many direct sales reps hesitant to work with channel partners? When I posed this question to Rich Blakeman in a Channel Journeys podcast interview, his answer was “control.” Sales reps fear losing control of their accounts. As a result, they miss out on a huge opportunity to ignite growth by gaining the scale and reach offered by the channel.

The Hybrid Sales Channel describes a go-to-market strategy where direct sales reps and indirect partner sales reps collaborate on accounts. Like a hybrid car, each do what they are best at in each account. In a given account, for example, the vendor might have the pre-sales product knowledge, while the partner has deep relationships and post-sales implementation services.

Key Take-Aways

  • Your sales strategy should be aligned to how and where the customer buys and not how you want to sell.
  • The partner account manager should focus on the partner, and not be in the weeds with transactions. Conversely, the direct rep and partner rep should be focused on the customer.
  • Direct sales reps can boost their sales by acting like a sales manager and leverage a team of indirect sales reps who work for the partners.
  • The seagull behavior portrayed so well in the movie Finding Nemo describes why direct reps are so reluctant to let go and leverage partners. When acting that way, they lose more often than they win.
  • Change doesn’t happen without executive commitment and alignment to the hybrid channel strategy. But it falls to the first line manager to make change happen.

 Take Action — One Thing You Can Do Today

Look at your go-to-market strategy. Is it aligned to how and where your customers want to buy? Are you fully leveraging the channel, or are your sales teams hesitant to engage partners? One way to know is to run pipeline and sales reports and see what percentage of deals have a partner attached to the deal in one form or another. Look for variations by sales teams.

Listen to the complete podcast

About The AuthorRobert Spee, Channel Journeys Consulting

Rob Spee is founder and CEO of Channel Journeys Consulting and host of the Channel Journeys podcast. Rob applies his channel expertise to help clients create and execute channel strategies to accelerate revenue growth. His global channel experience spans from building channels at startups to vendors and distributors like Arrow, BMC, Carbonite, and SAS. Follow Rob on Twitter and LinkedIn.