Article | April 6, 2022
Channel partner programs help multi-billion dollar companies like Microsoft, Oracle, eBay, and many more increase their revenue and grow their businesses.
A channel partnership is when a company partners with another company to market or sell its products, services, or technologies.
What exactly do channel partnerships do for your revenue? What do channel partner programs entail? Let us take a look.
Why Are Top Companies Engaging in Channel Partnerships?
Channel partnerships accelerate business growth
They create high brand awareness at a low cost
They increase revenue through various partner channels
They allow seamless expansion into new markets and verticals
They contribute to a better customer experience
C-level Executives Are Sitting Up and Taking Notice
In an interview with Media 7, Sam O’Brien, CMO at Affise, discussed the growth of channel partnerships.
Since joining Affise I've had many senior, experienced CMOs, head of marketing, demand generation leads reaching out to me asking how they can learn more about partner marketing. We want to solve that and make it easy.”
Sam O’Brien, CMO at Affise
Global partnership ecosystems are thriving. They accelerate the growth and expansion of companies into new markets and verticals. Managing channel partnerships needs to be taken seriously. C-level executives are doing their bit by hiring competent ecosystem managers. An example of this is Reputation, the global leader in reputation experience management (RXM) expanding its executive leadership by hiring its first-ever Chief Ecosystem Officer, Brent Nixon. He is the other ‘CEO’ who creates and fosters a long-lasting partner ecosystem as Reputation continues to grow across Europe and Asia.
How Many Types of Channel Partnerships Are There?
There are many types of channel partner programs that B2B companies create. Here are some important ones:
Tech Alliance Partners
Cloud Service Providers
Original Equipment Manufacturers
What Does a Channel Partner Program Entail?
A channel partner program is a way to get channel partners to do more for your customers. Implementing channel partner programs can transform the way you do business. However, creating them is not easy. They take a significant amount of time, effort, and, most importantly, strategic planning. To ensure the success of your channel partner program, you need to get into deep waters, research potential partners, brace for swift growth, streamline your processes, and confidently venture into markets while being aligned with your business goals.
Here's what you should be looking at before creating a channel partner program:
Status of business
Your products or services should be tried and tested for your partners to invest their time, resources, and trust in them. The demand and appreciation of your product or service offerings should be motivating enough for them to go the extra mile.
Streamlined sales cycles
Streamline your sales cycles so you know what works best for your in-house sales processes. Only then can you explain to your partners how you want them to sell and distribute your products.
Key markets identified
You need to figure out which key markets your partners can help you target through your channel partner program. How can your partners help you position your brand in these new markets? How can your partners do more for you in these markets? If you think they can do more for you than you can do for yourself, then it can be a great foundation for creating your channel partner program.
Readiness for growth
Channel partnerships steer new clients to your business. Ensure that you are ready to accommodate this growth, and serve these new customers with the same enthusiasm that helps you retain existing customers. Your customer support personnel are key to creating an excellent customer experience for your new customers.
How to Build a Channel Partner Program in 7 Steps
Discover the Right Partners
Arrive at a consensus with your stakeholders about expectations from a new partner. The partnership should be based on common business goals and brand culture. It should be based on mutual respect, shared vision, and values so customers have the best experience while interacting with your product. Your partner should complement your skills and alleviate your weaknesses. Apart from these factors, choose a partner who has
access to the markets you want to enter
the ability to help you achieve expected revenue
distribution channels that meet your needs
a customer base that serves your purpose
a strong intention to enter a lasting partnership
Reaching Out to Shortlisted Partners
Once you find a potential partner who ticks all the important boxes on your checklist, approach them to discuss your business goals and what you can achieve together. Highlight your challenges, previous partnership achievements, and the benefits of the proposed partnership so that your partner program creates great value for you both. It is crucial to work towards relationship-building from the get-go, so your intended partner understands your mindset to address customer pain points.
Create a Partnership Agreement
After you finalize your partner, work on creating a partnership agreement. Put on paper your shared partnership goals, target markets, specify your duties in detail, commit to the resources you and your partner will offer to enhance the partnership, clearly state your expectations and terms, list the strategies and tactics you plan to use to achieve your goals, and detail your incentive plan. Other factors like payment terms, indemnification terms, and partner marketing efforts should also be mentioned to ensure transparency from the beginning. Creating a solid partnership agreement will hold both parties accountable for their actions and will protect both businesses from any mishaps. Get a second professional opinion on the agreement to ensure you are not missing out on anything important.
Decide the Metrics
Without tracking the measurable goals of your partnership, you cannot ensure the success of your channel partner program. Follow the SMART analogy for your goals. They should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Your channel partner program should measure KPIs like these:
Total and average revenue per partner per channel tier
Revenue achievement against specific products
Revenue by geography
Number of deals registered
Channel attrition rate
Effective MDF (marketing development fund) utilization
New Customer Logos
By deciding on the metrics that effectively illustrate the performance of your channel partner program, you and your partner can easily understand the weaknesses of the partnership and address them in time to get the most out of the program.
Streamline the Partner Enablement Process
Partner onboarding doesn’t end after signing the agreement. You need to invest time and effort in channel partner management by enriching the partnership through partner enablement activities such as:
Customized training for partners
Explaining your product to the partners for appropriate brand representation
Providing them with tools and resources to sell your product better
Continuously communicating and updating the partners about product updates
Listening to partners’ concerns and issues in the selling process
Congratulate and reward your partners for their achievements
Efficiently Manage Partnership Using PRM Tools
Manually managing all the channel partner program data can be overwhelming. The PRM software eases the management process. You can streamline your recruiting, training, and partner relationship management. Partnership tasks can be managed efficiently through PRM software. Here are the features that your PRM software should have:
Create Partnership Incentive Plans
Incentives are a great way to keep your partners on their toes to sell your product better. They will strive to offer your customers a great customer experience and remain enthusiastic about their partnership commitments.
SiriusDecisions’ Principal Analyst, Jay McBain, noted that partners are looking for better partner experiences and more innovative partner incentives.
Your partnership incentive plans should be structured, comprehensive, personalized, clear, and transparent because they can drive an increase in revenue and market share, draw in new customers, and enhance teamwork and collaboration. The most popular incentive plans used by businesses are:
Trips and Travel
Sales Performance Incentive Fund (SPIF)
Market Development Fund
Conducting special events to commemorate the success of the partners, treating them to frequent dinners, and hosting special educational sessions for them can also create positive reinforcement to work harder towards revenue generation and create an emotional connection with the partners.
Ringadoc Got a 1,983% Boost in Their Annual Revenue
Ringadoc’s channel partner program is a great successful partnership program example. The start-up company saw a 1983% boost in its annual revenue and a 1000% user-base growth within just six months. Interestingly, they did not have to bear any upfront costs for these results!
Summing It Up
To grow sales, revenue, and a loyal user base, B2B organizations need to create successful channel partner programs that can help them thrive in new markets. The best channel partner programs can create higher brand awareness and pave the way for success in new verticals.
How can you motivate channel partners to increase revenue?
By nurturing your channel partnerships, providing partners with technological support to sell your product, and remaining connected to your partners, you can motivate your partners to generate revenue for you by aggressively selling your product to the targeted customer base.
What is a great example of a channel partner?
A channel partner is a company or an individual that helps you sell products. Affiliates, resellers, tech alliance partners, and cloud service providers are some of the types of channel partners.
How do channel partners make money?
Channel partners make money through referral fees, pre-defined commissions, or by selling services like customer support, training, or consulting.
Article | March 10, 2022
In the B2B domain, relationship management plays a key role in business growth. As compared to B2C, B2B relationship management is complex. B2B sales cycles are longer, business is catered to key accounts, which are retained through regular contact, and there are multiple decision-makers who make purchase decisions.
Seamless co-operation can happen only when a powerful tool like cloud-based CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software collects crucial data and assists the management strategy.
74% of respondents say that CRM solutions give them better access to customer data, which is crucial to offering personalized services to accounts. (Source: Resco)
What is a B2B CRM Strategy?
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy helps improve the conversion rate, retain customers better, and capture more leads. A B2B CRM strategy is used to sell services or products to accounts and has complex sales processes, fewer leads, and a longer sales cycle as opposed to B2C’s simple sales processes, more leads, and shorter sales cycle.
A customer relationship strategy includes listing methods to oversee an influx in profits and an increase in sales. It helps in detecting shortcomings in your B2B CRM process and comes up with advanced solutions using critical data to enhance your management.
To execute this strategy, you should choose an efficient cloud-based CRM software that is securely hosted on the servers of your CRM provider. You can access it over the internet from anywhere. With the help of good CRM software, you can manage your contacts, gain insights into your customers, understand and fulfill their needs at every stage of the sales cycle.
Types of CRM Strategies for Business
There are three types of CRM strategies for businesses. You can choose an appropriate strategy based on your business goals and objectives.
This type of strategy focuses on breaking the silos between the sales, marketing, and customer service teams. These teams may not be in the same geographical location, use different channels to connect with the customer, and have different skills and specialities. Such differences make it hard for these teams to come together and work towards the same goal - an outstanding customer experience. Sharing information between these teams throughout the customer journey is vital for an optimum customer experience.
Businesses use operational CRM for streamlining customer relationships using tools to understand and handle complete customer journeys, even those with multiple touch points. It also supports marketing automation, service and sales automation so that employees don’t have to manually carry out all the campaigns. Instead, they can allot more time to carry out activities that need human interaction.
New B2B marketing strategies include digital tools and platforms. A big chunk of customer data that is gathered through these tools and other channels may not be used accurately without a feature-rich platform that analyzes customer behavior. Through analytical CRM, you can get a detailed analysis of the data. It helps with customer retention and solving customers’ problems swiftly.
Role of CRM in Business Strategy
The main role of CRM is to enable teams that handle customers with relevant customer data so that they can offer an optimum customer experience (CX). So, a CRM strategy example would be a business strategy that focuses on customer satisfaction.
“The C-suite plays a fundamental role in giving appropriate weight to CRM across the business, thereby ensuring that it is executed appropriately across all layers of the business and all the way down to the customer.”
- Anders Lindholm, Managing Partner of Boyden Italy.
CRM helps C-level executives to:
Understand their customers better
Retain their customers with impressive CX
Bring in new customers
Increase their revenue
Manage customers economically
Using CRM in business is also necessary if you want to achieve business growth through consumer-centric ideas.
Let us take a look at the role of CRM in business strategy in detail:
Provides Reliable Reports
Businesses procure actionable customer data from social media, Google Analytics, apps, and business software. However, it becomes useless if it is unorganized. CRM organizes this data and collates it for better understanding. It can also categorize the customers into leads, sales, or opportunities. AI-based marketing automation is also possible using CRM.
Allows Drip Campaigning
Implementing drip campaigns to target a specific audience cluster with an interest in a niche product is easy because of the dynamic content that CRM provides. These drip campaigns are triggered by specific actions and send out emails to get in touch with the audience. They can be used to convert leads throughout the sales funnel.
Through the data it collects, CRM provides insight into the issues and needs of the customers. This makes it easier for a customer service team to tackle issues that customers face. They don’t have to spend time or energy digging for information because they have all the data they need on their CRM dashboards. A quicker resolution time and higher customer satisfaction translate to an improved bottom line.
Cross-department Data Accessibility
CRM data can be accessed across departments that may not necessarily be in the same location. This kind of accessibility makes it easier for all departments to optimize their processes.
Provides Business Insights
Companies easily track business intelligence metrics that help them understand which campaigns are generating leads and how much time it takes to follow up with leads. They can also gauge salesperson performance, business KPIs (closed cases, average call time, average user rating), customer sales, and product sales, up-selling and cross-selling data.
Aligns Core Teams
All the teams that come into contact with customers are used to working in silos. That doesn't mean that CRM data won't help them. It can show them how to focus their goals and efforts on getting, nurturing, and converting leads, as well as giving customers a great experience.
Creating an Effective CRM Strategy
To create an effective CRM strategy, follow these steps:
Identify your position in the market
Know your product or service
Define goals and vision
Determine the ICP and target audience
Map the customer’s journey
Create a 360° CX experience
Choose a good CRM software
Sync everything with your CRM software
Measure the performance of your strategy using KPIs
British Airways’ Volume Requests Increased after Using CRM
British Airways set a great example of a CRM strategy using Teradata CRM. Their volume requests increased by 150%. They automated campaigns and customer communications for their integrated warehouse through Teradata and saw amazing results.
The role of CRM is crucial in your business strategy. Adopting the best CRM strategy can bring you outstanding results and help you focus on your customers closely.
Which companies offer CRM software solutions?
Companies like Salesforce, Oracle, Zendesk, Microsoft, Hubspot, and Agile offer CRM software solutions.
How can a CRM strategy help you scale your business?
CRM can help you offer an enhanced customer experience, analyze customer behavior, bring your core performance teams together, and automate your marketing campaigns.
How can you measure the success of your CRM strategy?
Upsell rate, close rate, average value of deals, duration of sales cycle, and length of pipeline stages are some of the important KPIs to measure the success of your CRM strategy.
Article | March 10, 2022
According to Forrester, 75% of the world’s commerce uses channel sales to generate revenue. What does this mean? Instead of preferring direct channel sales, where there is no intermediary, companies, or ‘vendors’ are trusting their partners to sell for them. Channel partner sales contribute to revenue and sales growth, adding to the company’s headcount and associated expenses. They are also enriching the customer experience.
In a LinkedIn Live, Kori O'Brien, SVP Alliances & Channels at Salesforce, talked about how partner sales contribute to a great customer experience.
“I really think it’s about segmenting the market and realizing how you get your best scale. And at the end of the day, it’s about what is going to make your customers more successful. You want them to have access to and experience of engaging with your product and brand successfully. I think if you can make sure that the partners you bring on board hit the profile you want and you segment your market effectively for productivity, I think there is a healthy balance between direct and indirect sales.”
Are you planning on expanding into new markets, enhancing your customer experience, or creating a channel to scale your growth efficiently? If you are, then you must dive deep into channel partner sales, understand how to face the challenges they present, and make the most of a channel sales strategy.
Understanding Channel Partner Sales
One of the many ways to scale a business is to hire salespeople. However, hiring, training, and retaining salespeople is expensive and can even deplete the resources you can use to grow your business. Even with the best tools on the market, sales reps face limitations. A game-changing idea would be to set up a channel sales strategy.
In a channel partner sales strategy, you use partners, including but not limited to affiliate partners, value-added partners, and resellers. Anybody who doesn’t work for you directly but sells your product is a channel partner.
Examples of Channel Partner Sales
Alliances: Partners that sell complementary products
Affiliates: Websites that send customers to your site for a paid commission
Dealers: Intermediaries between customers and manufacturers
Distributors: Buyers who directly buy from you but market and sell to customers in their region
Franchisees: Use your brand identity and business model to sell products and services
Resellers or VARs: Purchase products to resell them, often adding features to enhance them
Brokers and Agents: Arrange purchases in exchange for a pre-set commission
Retailers: Sell products to consumers in small quantities
Channel Partner Sales: Benefits, Challenges & Solutions
Let us look at some benefits that channel partner sales can offer:
Brand Awareness and Trust
A well-known channel partner can help you create brand awareness and credibility in the market.
Efficiency and Cost-effectiveness
Channel partners can bring more revenue at a fraction of the cost of hiring new sales reps.
Experiment with new products, packages, customers, and marketing campaigns at low risk.
Vendors help with customer success by giving service and support to customers on your behalf.
So far, channel partner sales look promising for business growth, right? However, your channel partner’s sales ride may not be a smooth-sailing one. Let us look at some challenges this model presents and how you can tackle them without burning yourself out.
Lack of Control
Your partners represent your brand when they sell your product to end customers. However, you cannot control their interactions with customers. The only way to ensure that your partners give their best to achieve customer success is to provide an excellent partner experience for them. If you nurture your partnerships, give them time and effort, it will prompt your partners to offer the same support and effort for you.
When you use a combination of direct sales and partner channel sales, unexpected conflicts can arise between you and your partners. Your partners may feel like they are competing with your salespeople. To avoid such conflicts, proactively set guidelines around products you want to sell through your channel partners and those you wish to sell directly through your team.
Zeroing-in on the Best Technology
Finalizing a tech platform that best suits your partnership needs can be challenging because of the options available in the market, your partners’ expectations, budget constraints, and business goals. In this case, you can identify the areas that need special attention and leverage the tech resources you have to expand your functionality over time instead of making drastic changes immediately.
Partners’ Changing Expectations
Over time, your successful channel partners may ask you for better margins. It may be hard not to entertain such expectations if their numbers are good. Ensure you know the pricing structures you are comfortable working with from the get-go. Decide how frequently you need to revisit these structures. To minimize risk, recruit new partners instead of relying on a select few.
Poor Performance of Partners
Some of your partners may not live up to your expectations. Assessing metrics to know which ones are consistently underperforming is a smart way to figure out your next steps in time. Eliminate the partners who aren’t doing much for your sales channel. To improve results, you can also train your partners’ sales team. You may have to shell out for this solution, but it can be a good investment over time if appropriately executed.
5 Tips to Boost Your Channel Sales Strategy
Here are five tips you can use to boost your channel sales strategy:
Set Ground Rules and Expectations
Definable sales expectations, which can be measured with KPIs, are crucial for the success of a channel sales strategy. Your partners should clearly understand your expected close rate or account growth expectations beforehand. In turn, you should also make sure that all your channel partners chase the goals they have set for themselves. Create checkpoints in your partnership journey to make sure everything is in order. Support your partners at every step and reward their good performances.
Engage a Channel Partnership Management Platform
Use the best partner relationship management (PRM) software in the market to track your partners’ performance. Robust PRM software may help you position your channel strategy better and drive your sales. Resources like webinars, training materials, and sales dashboards will keep your partners on their toes. Your PRM software should have the following features:
Maintain an Open Communication Channel
You should be in touch with your partners frequently. If the partners are not updated with the latest news surrounding your offerings and any other strategic announcements, they will not be able to benefit from them. You may also not hear much from them, missing out on issues that may fester if left unattended. Sending periodic emails, creating social media groups, conducting meetings, and participating in webinars can help you maintain an open communication channel with your partners.
Stress on Training and Reinforcement
Hone the skills of your channel partner managers and partner sales managers to help them perform optimally. By training your partner sales assets in marketing and selling your products, you can reinforce your brand knowledge and give them motivation to confidently sell your products. Ensure that you plan and execute good training programs for your channel partner managers, take feedback, and gather information on their performance to optimize efficiency.
Grab a Bigger Mindshare for Your Product
Mindshare is the limited time and resources your channel partner spends on marketing and selling your product. Apart from you, it is highly likely that your partner sells products for other companies. Therefore, your goal should be to get more considerable mindshare for your product. Engage your partners with content, incentives, referral programs, and more so that they remain committed to investing more time and resources in selling your products.
Allbound PRM Helped Garland Technology Get a 33% Increase in Their Partner Referral Revenue
Garland Technology, a network product and solutions enterprise, used Allbound’s PRM tool for channel sales management. With the help of the PRM tool, they automated training, marketing, and deal registrations and saw a 33% increase in their partner referral revenue. Their partner onboarding and training numbers also improved significantly.
With the help of these five tips, you can enhance your channel sales management. An effective channel sales strategy can increase your sales revenue, motivate you to scale your business in different markets and strengthen your channel partnership program.
What are some examples of channel sales partners?
Some examples of channel sales partners are distributors, consultants, alliances, affiliates, resellers, franchisees, and dealers.
How can you avoid conflicts with your channel sales partners?
To avoid conflicts with your channel partners, set clear boundaries on customer targeting, define the products you are going to sell indirectly, and offer lucrative incentives to partners. Also, keep an open communication channel, and decide on the customer segments that your partners shouldn’t target.
What are some of the popular PRM tools?
Some popular PRM tools are PartnerStack, Impact Partnership Cloud, Salesforce PRM, Allbound PRM, and Impartner PRM.
Article | March 8, 2022
“It is within everyone’s grasp to be a CEO.”
– Martha Stewart, Founder, CEO, Martha Stewart Living OmniMedia
From the 1970s to the present day, women haven’t stopped dreaming about and chasing the goal of successful entrepreneurship, building healthy communities, and uplifting other women in their pursuit of excellence.
Women who are not afraid to take on challenges, vow to break stereotypes, have an exemplary sense of duty, and have the ambition to reach new heights, make femininity a force to be reckoned with.
On International Women’s Day 2022, we are celebrating inspiring women who have made a difference in their industry. Take a minute to read through the conversations we’ve had with them.
Know Your Most Powerful Asset
“Your most powerful audience is your employees. They are your greatest point of social proof.”- Kate Bradley Chernis, Founder and CEO at Lately
What You Should Focus On
“Rather than focusing on strategy, planning and creativity, many marketers instead spend the majority of their time cleaning and analyzing data.” – Yogeeta Chainani, Co-Founder and CPO at Swaarm
There Is No End to Learning
“Be a sponge and listen as much as you can. Go to those optional meetings. The more you learn and are exposed to early on, the better.”- Elizabeth Irvine, VP of Marketing at MarketMuse
Time Management Is the Key to Success
“Plenty of people never thought they would end up where they did, but almost all of them had discipline, rigor, and a deep learning mentality. Be flexible with your goals but really clear on how you spend your day/week/life.” – Kady S, SVP Global Head of Marketing at Klaviyo
Carve Your Niche
“If you have a topic you know no one else is talking about and that’s important to your clients, put your focus there.” - Amanda Sexton, Founder at FocusWorks Marketing