Finding suitable and effective new channel partners is a key ingredient of great Channel Management. However, the best paths to great channel partner recruitment strategy are rarely properly understood, producing a large number of unsuitable partners that waste time and distract from more effective relationships.
What is a Channel Partner Strategy?
In its most simple terms we can think of a channel partner as a company that partners with a producer, manufacturer or vendor to market and sell the provider’s products, services, or technology at a benefit to both parties.
The real power behind these sorts of marketing partnerships can only be gleamed when they work as efficiently as possible, a problem faced by many. Going into a partnership from either side takes a great deal of effort and focus not to mention pooling of resources and a keen knowledge of the needs of the market. To best enable these channel solutions to flourish a suitable strategy for recruiting, onboarding, enagaging with and developing the partners, vendor side, is a necessity.
How to Recruit Channel Partners
Attracting the right kinds of partners and engaging them in a program takes time, strategic thinking, and lots of hands on management. To simplify the process we use a simple 4 point plan.
Each step in our channel partner recruitment strategy has been fine tuned and tested rigorously to minimise risk and enhance efficiency. They all still require much work from the channel management staff in order to keep them on the right track but ultimately if followed correctly should provide optimal results.
- What does it take to become a partner?
This should be your first step, know what you need and want from your partnerships before trying to find the right applicants. Make sure to vet all potential prospects as thoroughly as possible and ensure any contracts are fair, amicable, acceptable to both parties but enforce your mutual product and marketing ideals.
- Who will be your key partners?
Most partner programs rely on a small percent of the partners to produce the most valuable work. It is vital to have that in place before looking to recruit smaller or less concrete ‘gap-filling’ partners. Set up meetings and share a clear value proposition, that reinforces how your program will benefit each partner individually.
- Where should be enhance our program?
Look for cracks in your program from day one, gaps in the market, partners that are unhappy in competitor programs overseas internationals. Knowing the landscape and the foundation of your own program and where it lacks, along with some out of the box ideas can lead to some extraordinary possibilities.
- Who are your up and coming performers?
This will be the bread and butter of your program going forward. Right from the word go divining and nurturing your partners that are growing the fastest will be key to enhancing your program’s potential and getting the best return on your investments. Nurture, grow, succeed, repeat.
What makes a good Channel Partner
The channel partner recruitment strategy above is a great basis for any program to begin its first steps into the world of channel partner marketing. However, so many companies lose their way because of a seeming lack of ‘good’ channel partners. So what makes a good channel partner, here are 3 good points to start you on your way to assessing your partners the right way:-
- Shared values
Working together can be hard even for people in the same office, the strain of different companies working toward an end goal from different positions is vastly more challenging. Each appropriate partner should have a set of values that are consistent with that of the vendor, be they work ethic, resource management, possibly even something as simple as their staff hierarchy. Even a small disconnect can be enough to throw a partnership into disarray. Be thorough when investigating a potential partner for any irregularities to ensure cohesion between the businesses.
- Growth potential
It may seem counter intuitive but some partners may be too big! It is undoubtedly good to have large partners in terms of resources and reach, but often when partnering with companies larger than your business you can find issues that would be less common partnering with a suitably sized corporation. Communication disconnects and a lack of fervour for promoting your product are often cited as some of the biggest issues with partnerships with large companies. Investing in more connections with partners more eager and focused can often be a better strategy in the long run.
- Compatible systems
Partnership Management is a vast and time consuming job role. Starting a partner program should never be taken lightly but there are things that make the job much easier. For partners to perform at their best they should have a constant steam of information, leads, targets and resources coming from the vendor. In the past this could have been a departments worth of work on its own, but with the digital transformation revolution, now more is expected, faster, and with less man hours. Having a system of work, as well as a central hub, for data collection, storage, and synthesis accessible by both sides of EVERY partnership is often a great boon to a program. Generating early assurances of a combined way of working, often with a Partner Management Platform, are a good sign.