Designing the perfect channel partner strategy can be a complex process. There’s a balance between offering an enticing reward and making a profit. Yet, the right strategy can go a long way in securing lasting partnerships, that provide returns for years to come.
So, what is a channel partner strategy and how do you build a successful program? Here we review the best methods, including optimizing data, creating a roadmap, and providing the right partner enablement materials.
What is a Channel Partner Strategy?
Strategy for channel partnership involves a high-impact solution to sales and marketing that uses third-party partners to market a product/service and brand. It’s a partner enablement framework that rewards sellers based on traffic and sales provided by their programs.
Constructing a Roadmap
To ensure your channel partner strategy plan is effective, you must construct a roadmap. Not only is it a way to maintain high standards, it helps to map out your compensation plan.
A successful partner roadmap will include:
- Introduction to your brand and its standards
- A plan for training and development
- Introductory compensation
- Continued support and feedback
- Additional resources and material
Certain thresholds can also be built into the roadmap to reward successful and high-quality partners. This can include anything from increased commission to bonuses, deals, and discounts. Providing a roadmap for progress helps to nurture and encourage the partnership and keeps your brand at the forefront of their mind.
Providing Timely Leads
A good automation platform will help to distribute sales leads to partners before they go cold. This is particularly helpful when channel partners face difficulty engaging customers face-to-face, like during a pandemic or natural disaster.
Sales leads generated in a timely fashion—by smart vendors who have invested in digital marketing platforms—provide partners with a critical lifeline during times of need. It’s a great strategy to funnel leads through an automated platform that is shared with your partners.
Creating Partner Enablement Material
To get the most out of channel partners, you must provide them with the resources they need to bring in customers. Giving them the proper tools can elevate your sales and marketing efforts to the next level. This gives you a chance to treat the partnership as an opportunity for growth.
The best strategy is to create a sales deck for your channel partners, also known as a “partner playbook”. This should be provided in a self-service partner portal, via email, or a help center on your website. It can include anything that helps your partner sell, like:
- Spec sheets
- Value propositions
- Use cases and customer references
- Marketing collateral
Partner enablement also involves training, onboarding, and coaching programs. This should be an ongoing process, with materials updated as soon as your products/services change.
Optimizing Channel Data
Channel data can be used to more effectively enlist the right partners for specific initiatives. This boosts the performance of channel strategies by being more informed and data-driven when engaging partners on specific marketing campaigns.
The right data not only helps to select the best partners, it shows you who to exclude. Some may not have the relevant marketing or technical expertise for certain programs. Others might not have a great reputation.
Data will provide insight into what types of programs work best with which sellers. It will also show what type of investments (from an MDF perspective) you want to see the partner engage in.
Studying channel data also helps to increase your presence with a partner and get them more excited about your solution.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
When creating an effective channel partner strategy, there are some common pitfalls you should sidestep. Here are the top three:
- Avoid partners with a bad reputation. These people ultimately represent your brand. Partnering with someone who is consistently negative or is poor-mannered will only come back to bite you in the long run. Worse, it might have an impact on your revenue.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t base it solely on a partner’s audience size. Evaluate their audience and make sure it fits the ideal image of your customer base. Finding the right type of audience is just as important as finding the right partner.
- Don’t expect miracles right away. Any relationship takes time to build and nurture, even a business one. Don’t expect everything to work perfectly off the bat. Strong partnerships take time to cultivate. Document issues and fix them as you go.
What Makes a Good Channel Partner?
If you take the time to draw out a well-planned strategy, the right partners should come easily. A good channel partner will have an established audience that is similar to your customer. They will carefully study all partner enablement material, while cultivating a respectable and positive image of your company.
With the right strategy, your partners will provide engaged customers that are more likely to return and stay for the long term. You’ll both be on the same page and well-positioned for more sales, higher-quality leads, and a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.