A channel partner strategy is a method for explaining the value, method, benefits, and components of your overall channel partner program. This strategy should provide an answer to the question, “Why should I work with you?”.
Creating an effective channel partner strategy necessitates a thorough understanding of your target partner, including what motivates them, their priorities, and how they make money. It also necessitates an honest assessment of your own company and how you can best assist your partners in reaching their objectives.
Having a firm grasp of these concepts will enable you to successfully develop and implement your strategy.
1. Make certain that your partner wants to be one of your channel partner
As a vendor, your channel partner strategy typically begins with a need in one of the following areas:
- Reaching the mid-market
- Getting a foothold in a new vertical market or geography
- Extending a standalone product to be sold in conjunction with other solutions/services
- Taking part in the ecosystem-driven economy
When a partner needs to expand their capabilities for customers, enable a professional services revenue stream, connect to other vendors in an ecosystem, fill a gap, or replace a vendor in their current solution offering, they typically decide to add a new vendor.
Your channel partner strategy must address the business proposition of the partner. The business proposition, which differs from the customer value proposition, explains why a partner would want to build a business around your product rather than the alternatives.
Many businesses struggle to distinguish between the partner’s business proposition and the customer’s value proposition.
2. Make certain that your partner program includes the elements that are important to your partners
Today’s partners understand the importance of program elements such as deal protection/registration, training, access to support teams, and end-user demand generation support. Partners who generate end-user demand will benefit from market development funds as well.
The most important aspect of your channel partner strategy is to solidify and clearly explain the policies you will implement within the program. Before you launch, make sure your “back-office” is ready, including program policies, processes, and escalation points. Partners will switch to another vendor if support elements are missing or if they perceive working with you to be difficult.
3. Learn how automated your systems are
It is straightforward. Partners do not have the time, and will not take the time, to search for information about your solution. Automation is required for independent productivity, which is required for program scalability.
Program management is frequently an afterthought. When a partner works with an average of 15-20 vendors, all of whom demand their attention, no systems mean no focus. Prioritize your “Channel Technology Stack” based on what you can do right now, and plan how you will expand your stack to support your strategy.
You’ll want to be able to scale your systems around the support infrastructure’s single common link.
Scalable automation decisions must be made from the start. Consider a Customer Relationship Management tool that works well with your Partner Relationship Management tool as well as your Incentive Automation or Demand Generation Platform. Consider long-term scalability to save time, money, and frustration.
4. Know the answer to: "How will you support me as a partner?"
True readiness emanates from all levels of your organization (internal and external) and has a direct impact on channel competitiveness. Before launching your channel partner strategy, consider the following factors to ensure channel partnering success:
Program for Onboarding: A comprehensive onboarding roadmap should cover everything from when a partner signs the dotted line to when they are fully proficient and generating sustainable revenue for the company.
Depending on your product or service and your ability to bring partners through your methodology, this could last 30-90 days or up to 2 years. Regardless, the first 90 days of your relationship are critical to its long-term success. Track success metrics such as completed training, new joint account sales calls, deal registrations, and lead generation campaigns.
Team Roles and Assistance: Support is one of the key ingredients your partners are looking for. Most businesses define this as a sales support role such as a Channel Account Manager (CAM), pre-sales technical support, marketing, or inside sales. All roles, both internally and externally, must be clearly defined so that partners know who to contact when a need arises.
Channel Resources and Tools: Training and enablement are critical to a partner’s success. Prepare to provide technical, sales, and industry knowledge and skills to your partners. Consider the following resource tools: sales playbooks, competitive comparisons, 2-3-minute informational videos, and webinars, to name a few. Access to additional product documentation, sales collateral, demonstration capabilities, and key leaders within your organization is also required.
5. Define your partner growth strategy in detail
Partners are interested in learning about your channel partner growth and ecosystem strategy. They want to know if you intend to grow gradually and steadily or quickly and haphazardly by bringing on as many partners as possible. Having a vision and guiding principles will help you stay on track.
Determine your strategy early on:
- How will you build a healthy channel?
- How will you entice partners to join your program?
- They’ll want to know if you’re 100% channel, mixed (and how you segment that mix), or only leveraging partners in a specific area.
In general, you want partners who are interested in selling a vendor offering based on value rather than price. If you’re recruiting for partner count rather than value-add (revenue and support), you’re wasting your time. This strategy rarely produces results and will only cost you time, money, and a loss of focus with your important partners.
Understanding your partner’s business model will help you determine which type of partner will be most beneficial to you and how to structure a business proposition that will entice them to join your company.
Partners want to work with vendors who are “Channel Ready,” and they want to know that you are doing everything in your power to enable, support, train, market, and transact business through their channels. This concept of “channel readiness” is a never-ending heartbeat in the rhythm of your business. Using these principles from the start will save you time and money.
RewardPort’s experience in designing and implementing bespoke channel partner solutions enables us to identify and exploit your brand strengths in building loyal partnerships. A successful partnership necessitates ongoing work and support, so don’t just hand out a referral link and walk away.
Use proven strategies to nurture the relationship that can help both parties get the most out of the deal and leave them much better off. Creating a channel partner strategy plan is one thing; managing the partnership is quite another.