How to Get Started with a Reseller Partner Program

Mike Nardella
Mike Nardella
CEO of Relevize

Every successful B2B business has something in common; they leverage a reseller partner program to expand a product and boost their user base. It’s one of the easiest ways to capture new channels of revenue and network beyond your original scope. That’s why it’s a popular method among large brands like Microsoft and Cisco. 

Beneficial partner programs involve time, effort, and strategic planning. To advertise your product effectively, you’ll need to first understand what a reseller partnership program is and how to get started.

What is a Reseller Partner Program?

Reseller partner programs are a strategic vendor plan that companies use to build relationships, increase sales, and grow their network. Resellers work to motivate and engage end-users and create value for your brand.

Tips for Building a Reseller Partner Program

Once you have a general understanding of what a reseller partner program is, it’s time to start building your program. The following are a few tips to get you started:

Develop a Strategy

The first step in developing a strategy is to consider your business goals, vision, and executive support. Creating a program is a huge investment of effort, time, and resources. That’s why it’s important that any reseller partner program is aligned with your company strategy from the beginning. 

Define a Value Proposition

The value proposition will determine whether people are willing to learn more about your brand. It’s about letting customers know exactly what they will get out of your product/service and the types of pain points it will solve for them. 

Once you have established value, compare it with the competition and what the market desires. At this point, also consider any available alternatives.

Set Clear Goals

Sit down with the reseller and collaborate on a clearly written, one-page plan that lays out:

  • Objectives
  • Specific strategies and tactics
  • Snapshot of the target market
  • Who will do what
  • A realistic view of the ROI
  • Resources expected from both parties

At this time, it’s also good to hash out communication and how you’ll track what’s being done. A task management tool will do the trick for most projects.

Building a Team

A successful reseller partner program requires both internal and external people to manage and monitor efforts. Here’s what you need for both:

External Team

When looking for an ideal channel partner, you should be asking the right questions, like:

  • Do they have the resources for a partnership?
  • Will it help them reach their goals?
  • Do you have similar values?
  • Do they have the right technology?
  • Is it a good culture fit?

Type of Partner

You should also consider the type of partner you are looking for, as there are many different types of resellers. A few that might be relevant to your business include:

Value-Added Resellers (VAR)

This is a company that provides value beyond order fulfillment. They typically resell hardware, software, and networking products. 

Managed Service Provider (MSP)

This is a company that remotely manages a customer’s end-user systems and/or the IT infrastructure. They typically do this on a proactive basis using a subscription model.

Consultants

This is an experienced individual who is trained to analyze and advise your brand to make the best possible decisions. 

System Integrator (SI)

This is a company or individual that usually builds computing systems for clients by combining hardware and software products from various vendors. 

Other types to consider:

  • Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM)
  • Independent Software Vendor (ISV)
  • Distributor 
  • Agencies

Partner Recruitment

When looking for the right partner, it’s important to do your research. Recruit wisely and look for quality over quantity. It’s a very human-to-human experience and should never be approached with a salesy pitch or patronizing tone. 

You must show that you desire to help grow their business as much as yours. Ask the right questions during recruitment, and ensure all expectations and agreements are put on the table. In this case, transparency is key to building strong reseller relationships. Concisely share what you have to offer and set ground rules right away.

Internal Team

When building the ultimate internal partner team, you’ll need some savvy channel marketers and a channel account manager. 

The manager’s role is slightly more complex and requires accommodating both the goals of the brand, as well as the business needs of channel partners. It’s a balancing act that requires finesse and a unique set of skills.

Specific tasks will vary by company and industry, but you can expect your channel partner to perform some of these duties:

  • Serving as a liaison between both parties
  • Negotiating the terms of partner contracts
  • Setting price markups and delivery schedules
  • Training to ensure customer satisfaction and partner profits
  • Resolving channel conflicts 

Onboarding and Building Relationships

Partner relationship management (PRM) is the term for the nurturing and aid to partners that support a company’s sales. It’s a crucial variable for success and an important factor for onboarding, training, and sales. 

The best practices of PRM involve finding solutions that will create maximum efficiency within the partnership. This includes tools and processes used, and how your brand works with data. Some common onboarding strategies include:

Partner Knowledge

Just like the “Know Your Customer (KYC)” process, it’s important to have a deep understanding of your partners as well. Knowing the key motivations and workflows of your partners can improve the customer journey and highlight where the focus needs to be.

Partner Portal

Access to a cloud-based self-service portal gives the power back to partners. This is a brilliant solution for streamlining training and helps to set boundaries for contact and engagement. 

Deal Registration

Partner sales often hinge on deal registration within a reseller’s program. This recognizes the efforts your resellers put into marketing and offers resources in return. 

A good deal registration program reduces competition while growing your lead pipeline. It also helps to avoid potential channel conflict between partners. All transactions are registered and partnerships can be directly nurtured to effectively manage relationships. 

Training

Offer resellers regular and high-quality training as a continuous resource. Properly trained salespeople are more motivated and enthusiastic. 

Certificates

After training, certifying partners is a key component of a good PRM strategy. It ensures that partnerships and training are renewed, and that performance remains in tip-top shape. 

Setting up Automation

As remote work becomes more common, digital programs put all of your resellers on the same page, while spending their time optimally. 

Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) is a technology solution that helps empower brands to scale their programs across multiple channels. It also works to drive local sales by managing brand assets and marketing resources with reseller partners. This is why TCMA is also referred to as distributed marketing management (DMM).

Everyone benefits from the implementation of a TCMA program. It helps to bridge the gap between corporate marketing efforts and the unique needs of your partners. The best solutions provide a place where partners can complete essential marketing tasks like:

  • Customizing templates
  • Accessing logos and media
  • Ordering promotional items
  • Managing co-op funds

Choosing the right type of automation sets up a framework for program measurement and analytics. 

Summing it Up

Getting started with a reseller program is not difficult but running a successful one takes work. Do the research on the front end and you’ll be more likely to align with the right partner. Once you’ve found your people, work to nurture those relationships with PRM strategies.

It’s also important to incorporate the right tools and technology to automate processes and speed up sales. If you give your partners access to the right resources from the start, you’ll be that much closer to success.

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