Even the highest profile technology companies use channel partners to reach customers and increase sales. These indirect sales help clear paths to new business opportunities faster with lower costs and fewer risks. A great channel partner will help tech companies market and sell products and solutions to increase reach in local and global markets.
If you have considered creating a channel partner initiative for your business, we have some solid ideas for creating an engagement strategy and capitalising on this new channel.
Align with the appropriate businesses.
Not every company will be a fit for your business. You’ll want to find businesses that not only align with your business offering but also those that share common ethics and codes of conduct. Remember that any business you choose to align with will be representing you in the global market so you want them to have pristine reputations and integrity to align with yours.
Evaluate your channel partners.
You may also want to consider channel partners of different sizes to capitalise on the different benefits they offer. Partnering with top-tier large enterprise companies with established marketing and sales organisations in place will require less hands-on work than those smaller developing or beginning companies that don’t have significant support resources.
You’ll also need to remember that engaging with channel partners means managing and incentivising more than just salespeople. There are many people who will be involved in your account at each partner business so you’ll need to consider management of the entire group of people, not just the sales organisation.
Ask the right questions.
Your channel partner engagement strategy will begin to gel when you answer some hard questions. Do your potential partners understand the value of marketing? How do you connect with current channel partners? Do your potential partners have marketing and sales resources in place? The answers that shake out will tell you where you need to start with each partner. Some businesses are primed to launch while others may require investments in training and marketing in order to be able to fully support you.
Provide the appropriate tools.
There’s an old sales adage that “nothing happens until somebody sells something.” But you have to set the stage and provide the right tools to maximise your channel partner relationships. You may want to consider including channel partner in new product testing, marketing initiatives, customer experience programs, sales training, etc. so that everyone is confident in products, solutions and positioning. And don’t forget the teams that support the sales and marketing roles as they will be involved heavily in daily activities and can make or break relationships.
Define stakeholder management.
Before launching any initiative, you’ll need to determine key objectives and goals with each of your channel partners. Obviously, these will alter based on the level of capabilities defined for each channel business. This will be an ongoing exercise so you can modify strategies based on partner output and market strengths.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
The mutual flow of information is critical for any channel partner initiative. You can adjust the level and frequency of shared information based on high touch or low touch requirements but the overarching rule is to communicate. Key points include training point, awareness messaging, launch messages and announcements and post-deployment support. Don’t make your channel partners guess about what you want. Share freely and openly and encourage open communications at all times.
Ready, set, deploy.
Communications with channel partners should never lag, especially in the early days of new relationships. Deploying a new channel partnership should include timelines, stakeholder management plans, impact assessments, training schedules and communications plans. Deployment information and tactics should be customised for each partner or group of partners based on qualifying criteria. Deployment communications should be revised and edited when critical information is altered.
The important transition of sales percentages to channel partners requires a dynamic strategy to keep up with product and market evolution. Achieving the scale to compete, especially with new products such as Software as a Service (SaaS) and various cloud solutions helps tech companies project into new markets and industries.
Vibrant channel partner relationships are also critical due to the demands on the technology industry to quickly innovate with more highly complex solutions. Channel partners are taking root in tech companies where they are an integral factor of so many business changes.
Channel partner relationships also add differentiated value to tech brands and their customers. Sales. Loyalty. ROI. And more. Savvy businesses understand the scope of benefits of a channel partner relationship and know that it all begins with the perfect channel partner engagement strategy.
Our quick-fire guide to boosting the returns from your partner marketing activity
Gone are the days when partners fought to establish their credentials with a large vendor. Today, it’s the vendors themselves who are under increasing pressure to ‘wow’ partners whom themselves can have multiple relationships with multiple tech companies. The good news is that we have a few ‘wow’ tricks up our sleeves, and can point to a proud track record of activating and empowering partners.
So what’s your ‘next best move’?
Well, by downloading our eBook on you’ll find some useful insights, hints, and tips to get you started... Download Now