Channel partners can be a quick and efficient route to penetrate new markets and expand existing customer relationships. technology companies especially can capitalise on channel sales so that they can focus on other strategic imperatives and core competencies.
Channel partners can bring established networks and customer relationships to the table, representing a significant percentage of business growth. Channel partners are already a vital part of the high-tech industry and definitely worth consideration for your business.
Professional services firm, Accenture, has found that companies that help their channel partners share customer data and generate leads are 63% more likely to exceed their revenue goals through channel partner networks.
In addition to more revenue, channel partners can help brands establish value which is vital to creating great customer experiences and loyalty.
So, what should a company do to create a valuable channel partner program? We’ve identified what we call “the 5 pillars of a successful channel partner program” to keep your channel partner tent sturdy and built to weather all types of market flux.
1. Choose the right partners.
This may be a bit self evident but selecting the best channel partners can make all the difference for you and them. Some selection guideposts include their readiness to invest in a partnership, technical proficiency and cultural fit.
There may be some obvious partner choices based on a company’s success or specialisation but don’t automatically shut out potential channel partners without doing some discovery if there’s a chance that you may be a good fit. You’ll want to explore their perspective on the market’s appetite for a joint offering and how the partnership will increase visibility in the market.
It’s also smart to address potential hurdles as well as skill sets to get an accurate view on the possibilities. In the end, there should be mutually agreed upon goals and a vision for success in order for a channel partnership to be successful.
2. Get clear on goals and commitment.
Once channel partners have been identified, you’ll need to identify mutual goals and confirm commitments to each other. Just as in most partnerships, everyone involved needs to have some skin in the game for it to work. One-way activity backed up only by a handshake just isn’t going to be successful. Goals need to be mutual—and clear.
Highlights of objectives, market view, strategies, assignment of responsibilities, resources and ROI vision need to be included at the very least. As you work the plan, you’ll find that some modifications are necessary. Are the commitments realistic? What barriers are popping up? Do partners have what they need to deliver on objectives? Taking a realistic view and visiting it for refinement will go a long way in keeping a channel partnership vital.
3. Nurture the relationship.
Spend some time getting to know everyone on the channel partner team. Business relationships are stronger when everyone is acquainted. Team members will feel better vested in the work if they can associate it with people they know, not just someone on the other end of an email or phone call.
Plus, there is a lot of dynamism created when people work together toward mutual goals. This can be especially critical at the start of a channel partner agreement and at certain checkpoints as the relationship extends.
4. Invest in knowledge and skills.
Channel partners need to know your products and solutions as well as they know their own. It’s not enough to just know the features and benefits. They’ll be called upon to demo the product and they need to understand it and show its features seamlessly. Credibility is critical and without appropriate product knowledge and skills, selling situations can fall disastrously flat.
As channel partners, you may share similar industry knowledge but it’s so important for your channel partner teams to understand the highlights and challenges experienced by customers and prospects. Without this working knowledge, the channel partner reps will appear uninformed and nothing can shut down a deal faster. Remember, they are representing you out there in the world so give them the knowledge and skills they need.
5. Don’t shut them out.
Sales teams can get territorial about deals. That’s no secret. And while you can understand it, you also can’t let it continue because it diminishes the relationship and activities with channel partner teams. Lack of transparency and lukewarm leads will kill a partnership before it’s out of the gate.
The ideal situation is sharing prospect information and partnering on a pitch. If there are roadblocks, do what you can to clear the way with appropriate strategies and tactics. Increased revenue will happen but it takes a spirit of willingness and an unrelenting goal of shared customer success from everyone on the team.
Channel partners can dramatically increase revenue potential for your business when you implement these 5 pillars for success. Be sure to invest the time and resources to keep team members updated. And then share as well as learn from your partnerships. You’re on the right path to a continual boost in more sales and revenue.
The Partner Acquisition ebook
Our Channel Partner Acquisition eBook is your ultimate guide to building successful partnerships that will drive growth for your business. Learn how to identify, recruit and nurture channel partners, create compelling partner programmes, and measure partnership success. Download now and start building successful partnerships!