A ‘channel partnership’ is between two organizations to market or sell their services, products, or technologies together. Simply put, channel partners are an extension of the sales team. They resell, manage, and/or deliver your products or services so that you can penetrate the market faster. In return, they earn through referral fees or by selling complementary services like training, consulting, and customer service.
According to the BPI Network, 74 percent of companies use partnerships to acquire new customers. On the other hand, 44 percent of them form alliances to gain new ideas and insights.
Some of the benefits of channel sales relationships are improved revenue, acquisition of new customers, wider market reach, and ideas to create new products and services. It also enhances the customer experience.
Channel Partner Management
Companies leverage partners as a crucial part of their go-to-market strategy. Channel partner management is vital to ensure that both companies get the most out of the partnership.
Factors Influencing Channel Partnerships
Let us take a look at the factors that influence channel partnerships:
Companies are on a quest to digitally transform their businesses
. They are more inclined to create strategic partnerships so they get complete business outcome solutions. They want partners who are on-board with digitization.
Buyer’s journey is increasingly becoming digital. Partners who offer a combination of services that surpass cloud platforms and apps are preferred.
I.T is no longer the only department approached for partnerships. Business leaders are now approaching B2B tech partners. As such, the importance of product and business training is of paramount significance if you want to partner with a reputed organization.
Challenges in Channel Partnership Management
According to Forrester, 75 percent of the world’s trade flows indirectly through channels, partnerships, and alliances. According to the Harvard Business Review, more than 60-70 percent of corporate partnerships fail. So, what are the challenges that businesses face while maintaining a channel partnership? Let’s take a look at the list:
If the ROI factor is not clear between partners, they cannot deliver value to the partnership because they cannot understand what goal they are chasing.
If partners’ contributions are not reflected through decided KPIs, then the partnership is bound to fail.
If the channel partnership strategy is not effectively executed, then the business goals won’t be met.
If multiple top-tier partners do not perform well in their capacity, the partnership will not yield benefits for any partner.
If the sales teams, product teams, and the partner program do not precisely define what the ‘best’ partner is, then the program is bound to fail.
To overcome these challenges, an effective channel partnership is the only solution.
Tips for Effective Channel Partner Management
Building channel sales relationships takes time, effort, and dedication because, let’s face it, you may not be your partner’s only partner. Your partner may be dealing with various vendors, some of which may be your direct competitors. What Barton Goldenberg, Founder & President, ISM, Inc., said stands true in this context.
In a well-designed channel model, multiple partners, representing the same vendor, should be trying to win a specific opportunity, albeit with differentiated value-add.”
Barton Goldenberg, Founder & President, ISM, Inc.
To have a successful channel partnership, you must meet certain expectations of your partner and work towards making the partnership beneficial.
Here are some tips to create an effective channel partner relationship:
Invest Time in the Partnership
Invest time in building channel sales relationships. Go above and beyond to work closely with your partners, even if it is a distributor or a sales representative. Your success will depend on how effectively you motivate your partners and their teams to perform their best and how well you understand your partners, their expectations, and needs.
Ensure that you are always available to promote services and products whenever your partners suggest or create opportunities. Let the partner sales representatives see you sell your product and how intimately you know it. Be active in handing over new leads to partner sales representatives so they know you trust them to convert the leads.
Participate in forums where sales representatives, distributors, and partners ask questions. It is a great way for sales representatives to create authority, invite their customers, and sell effectively through partners. These forums will also give insights on where, how, and what to sell.
Create a Best Practices Community
You can create a shared online community where vendors, partners, companies, and customers can have constructive discussions. If you had a best practices community page, updating crucial information to vendors and distributors at scale would be easy. Any doubts or grievances can be cleared instantly. Since this community will be online, it can be accessed 24x7 worldwide.
Consider Co-investing with Your Partner
Consider co-investing or co-sponsoring a channel partner you trust. Not only will your partner save money on salespeople, but your relationship with them will also improve. You can create conditions to ensure your profit shares are covered.
Optimize Your Profit Path
Your path to profit should be very clear to you and your partners. If it is not clear, be proactive about revamping your channel program to optimize it. A proper list of benefits and requirements should be evaluated by the partners so that the partnership leads to profits.
Focus on Effective Marketing
Run campaigns that are easy to execute, digital, and tailored to suit the needs of your marketing strategy
. Let your partners add value to them by providing highlights, appropriate messaging, and unique points about your products. Support and help partners with resources and tools to enrich the campaigns. Take opinions on budgeting and ask partners to provide their marketing campaign results.
Make the Most of Partner Events
Partner channel management strategies that involve face-to-face partner conferences, events like workshops, training sessions, or summits can work wonders for strengthening and optimizing your partnership. These events are a great way to introduce your products, sales resources, and product experts. Interact with your audience at events to create a good rapport with them.
Regularly Revamp Your Loyalty Program
Keep re-evaluating your channel loyalty program to keep your partners motivated. Offer them rewards and incentives for selling products or attending training modules. Engage multiple reward partners to offer growth-based incentives or technology that makes earning incentives fun or gamifies them.
Measure the Success of the Partnership
Subscribe to a channel partner relationship management tool like Salesforce PRM
that helps you segment data in a way that meets the expectations and needs of the different stakeholders of your company. A reporting dashboard that gives you access to real-time data and the power to search for specific information can give you a clear idea of how your partners are helping you with sales. Analyze the ROI, leverage data integration with your learning management system (LMS) or your partner’s portal to understand partner activity and which areas are creating a great impact on your sales. Enhance your partner channel management with a review of your partnership strategy from time to time.
Formstack Drives 50 Percent of New Mid-market and Enterprise Business with Partnerships
is a modular product suite for data collection, document automation, and digital signatures that integrates with top B2B tech like Salesforce
. By working with partners, it got more B2B customers and revenue. Using referral and reseller programs, it drove 50 percent of its Q4 2021 revenue to mid-market and enterprise sales teams. They chose PartnerStack
as their PRM platform.
Successful channel sales relationships can be fostered only when partners are transparent. They should have their goals aligned, are committed to the partnership, and are willing to explore ways to enrich their businesses using best practices.
How can you measure the success of your channel partnership?
The success of your channel partnership can be measured by using KPIs like active pipeline value, opportunities per partner, the number of partners enrolled, training completion and activation rates, and partner satisfaction.
What is channel partner management?
Channel partner management is effectively managing partner relationships so that it benefits both companies. Partner relationship management (PRM) tools are used to streamline this management.
What are the benefits of channel sales relationships?
Successful channel sales relationships can give you a competitive advantage in the market by using your partners’ reach, knowledge, technology, and network.