Do you know that most software, manufacturing, and insurance companies draw a big portion of their revenue from channel partners? As a matter of fact, consider the following:
- Companies with a solid channel sales strategy like Microsoft, make 95% of their revenue through their partners.
- According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), “Distributors and resellers typically drive 70% or more of a tech vendor’s revenue”.
- Businesses in other industries such as manufacturing and insurance, obtain 75% of their revenue through channel sales.
Having the right channel sales partners in place will help in driving revenue. However, identifying what defines a true channel partner and onboarding them could be a challenge. Casting a net to attract a pool of partners could work, but you’ll have a better chance if you have a game plan for obtaining the right channel sales partner.
In this article, we plan on sharing five successful strategies that work for the most prominent brands that sell through channel partners.
1. Successful channel partner recruitment starts with the right attitude
Every good endeavor starts with the right attitude. If you go into partner recruitment with the wrong attitude, you’ll spend a great amount of time, energy, and resources on your partner recruitment efforts.
If you’re in this to win, then prepare a more selective and focused recruitment process.
Finding the right partner with the right experience in your industry is a good example of what you should be looking for. However, placing your attention on their soft skills is just as important.
You’d want to find partners who have:
- Social selling skills
- An admirable work ethic
- Excellent, collaborative partnership mentality
- Amazing customer relationship that fosters repeat business
- Transparency and integrity in their dealings with the end consumers
Having a partner who has the right attitude and soft skills will put you in a better position to succeed in the partner recruitment-onboarding trajectory.
Having this foundation in place will enable you to follow the 4 important partner recruitment steps.
2. Set your recruitment goals
To find partners who align with the revenue goals of your company, outline your partner-specific goals, define how you intend to obtain the best channel partner candidates, and how you keep track of it.
Here are some example questions to help you establish the right partner recruitment goals:
- Does the partner have the right product mix that compliments your products? If so, what does the perfect product mix look like?
- Can the partner represent an unserved region? If yes, how many regions do you want to assign to them?
Having these goals in place will help you align your goals with your partner's goals. If your partner has a different expectation of what they will get versus what they will be accountable for in the partnership, you'll need to clarify any misunderstandings and set the right alignment from the start.
Goals do change, however, so revisit your goals and adjust the goals if they are no longer working for you. We recommend reviewing your goals monthly and quarterly as well as modifying the goals for future partner recruitment efforts.
Your ideal channel partner will have certain characteristics that you're looking for. If you don't know what they are, here are some example characteristics to look for:
- The desired number of years of industry experience
- Has a specific style of selling that matches what you are looking for
- Has access to the desired number of potential end-users that can benefit from your products
- Lives by the same core values you live by
Consider having a scoring mechanism to help grade the channel partners you're considering to onboard. The more characteristics they meet the higher the score. This will give you a better idea of who you’re looking for and when to disqualify.
Bonus Tip: If you already have channel partners, look at your top performers and assess their top positive characteristics. Then use these characteristics as a benchmark to emulate when looking for new channel partners.
4. Search for and identify the partners who fit your needs
Your potential partners attend certain events, listen to specific podcasts, read specific publications, and are members of specific associations.
Put yourself in a position to get your partner's attention. Start by promoting your company's partner program and its benefits in those publications, podcasts, and events.
This puts you in a position to drive awareness and hopefully drive interest. Show the unusual value that exists in partnering with you. No, this isn’t just financial benefits. Focus on attributes that fit your company's culture. A company's culture will attract the right type of partners for your organization and weed out the ones that don't.
5. Provide effective onboarding and enablement
Once you selected the right partners now, you're now ready for the partner onboarding process. Document a partner onboarding checklist. The checklist will help you and your partner know what will be required before they can actually start representing your company. If you have a partner portal (PRM), you may want to review if your PRM has workflows that can help facilitate the onboarding process.
Consider having an onboarding plan that includes a proper training schedule that will help them become a top-performing partner. Have goals around what training your partner will need to take in the next 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, etc. Knowing which partner is keeping up with your company's training and who isn't, allows you to see which partners are more committed than others.
Training tools can include product knowledge videos, How Tos, sales & marketing collateral, FAQs, etc. Anything you can think of that will help make the partner relationship as fruitful as possible.
Investing in your partners help drive value to your business and to the end-users. Having a partner recruitment strategy and onboarding plan will help create a smoother path to finding the right partner.
Bonus Tip: But don’t forget that you need to create a demand for your product/service or partners are less likely to represent you if you’re unknown to the market.
Ultimately, the most effective channel partner recruitment strategy for your organization will have some differences, but when based on these 5 strategies, they're sure to succeed. Start with the right attitude, set your goals, paint a picture of your ideal partner, find them, and get them on board. And if you need help implementing this in your overall revenue growth strategy, don't hesitate to schedule a conversation with us.