Article | November 19, 2021
Channel Partners: Scale Your B2B Sales
B2B organizations form alliances with like-minded, goal-oriented channel partners such as resellers, distributors, service providers, vendors, agents, or retailers to increase their market share and scale their growth. Channel partners help organizations venture into new markets, passionately co-sell their products, market their offerings to customers, and achieve revenue through sales. As a result, you can focus on efficiently utilizing your existing resources to innovate and offer exceptional customer service instead of hiring new employees.
In a candid conversation with Media 7 about the growth of the partner market.
“We're working with some huge brands at the moment, we're giving companies a faster way to start Partner Marketing. Find the partners you want to work with, or the publishers or creators or affiliates, to promote your business.”
Sam O’Brien, CFO at Affise
How Do Channel Partnerships Drive Revenue?
More than 90% of company executives and channel leaders expect to increase revenue directly through their partner ecosystem. (Source: 2021 Annual Channel/Partner Marketing Benchmark Survey conducted by Demand Gen Report and Channel Marketer Report)
In a channel partnership, the ground rules for revenue generation are laid beforehand. Channel partners optimize their performance to match each other’s expectations. The revenue in channel partnerships is governed by the type of partnership. Some of the most popular channel partnerships are channel value-added resellers (VARs), service delivery partners, technology alliance partners, cloud service providers, and high-velocity partners.
Channel partnerships drive revenue by:
Increasing a brand’s market presence through the channel partner’s credibility
Leveraging an already established customer base to improve brand recognition
Enabling the sales channel using defined processes that accelerate lead conversion
Offering a bigger network of connections in the target industry domain
A revenue performance management strategy uses partner engagement data from marketing assets that help close deals. It helps you understand how every part of your partner network is performing and which areas need extra attention. You can do this effectively through partner relationship management (PRM). Read on to find out the finer details of PRM.
Partner Relationship Management: How to Net on Channel Partnerships?
Partnership relationship management is a combination of processes, software tools, and strategies that help businesses optimize their channel partnerships. Channel partner management software usually includes a partner portal, a customer database, and tools that allow businesses and partners to manage leads and opportunities. A PRM system also gives insights into the sales and revenue metrics to understand how well a partnership is faring. You can track inventory, product pricing, operational efficiency, and discounts through a PRM system.
According to Gartner, PRM has expanded considerably in the past decade. In tandem, the importance of closely managing channel partner performance and partnership processes has increased. A good PRM solution for managing partner relationships takes care of the following parts of a channel partnership:
• Partner Recruitment: Score and recruit partners based on an ideal partner profile to kick-start a successful partner program.
• Partner Onboarding: Onboard ideal partners to your partner program to increase revenue and enter new markets confidently.
• Joint Business Planning: Plan business strategies with partners to optimize partner sales processes.
• Partner Training & Certification: Train and certify partners with on-demand product training and onboarding programs.
• Partner Enablement: Provide partners with resources like playbooks that are industry-specific, covering sales cycle stages, and product details.
• Lead Distribution & Management: Monitor, organize, and score leads based on their categories and assign them to channel partners.
• Deal Registration & Management: Get insights into the channel’s sales after partners register their deals.
• Marketing Development Funds (MDF) Management: Manage and process MDF applications from partners, tracking payments, and marketing campaign approvals.
• Partnership Contracts Management: Manage special provisions, signing, documents, and archiving of partner contracts. With the help of automation, reduce labor costs, limit liabilities, and increase efficiency.
• Partner Solutions Marketplace: Connect channel partners with prospective customers through a unified solutions marketplace.
• Partner Performance Management: Optimize partner program by analyzing dashboards and reports that show the status of leads, and opportunities.
• Communication & Collaboration: Communicate with partners at every stage of the sales cycle. Monitor opportunities and collaborate in real-time with partners about new deals.
A great example of how channel partner management software can streamline partner management would be Halodata. As a leading distributor of information security products and solutions across Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, Halodata managed a network of 80 resellers that sold 10 different products. The company invested countless hours into training, deal management, and coordination, which was challenging and affected its performance. Streamlining processes was crucial. It found a solution in Kiflo, a channel partner management software which helped define deal registration, set a clear business plan, and organized resources effectively. Halodata’s indirect sales went up by 33% in a year with Kiflo’s help.
B2B Businesses Are Creating a Sales Machine with PRM Software
B2B executives are giving priority to consolidating multiple systems into one to provide simplified support to their channel partners. The partner relationship management market size is set to reach $1994.76 million by 2026 (Market Research Future).
The changes in digitization, the expansion of businesses in new territories, and the need to create external partnerships to strengthen sales channels are driving the market’s growth. Getting buy-in for PRM is no longer a hassle for B2B executives because they use partner management software for:
Achieving productive marketing
Providing partners with robust marketing material, implementing an MDF program, and periodically updating co-branded marketing materials that can be accessed through PRM software brings in more revenue.
Addressing partner oversight
PRM software provides analytics and reports that can give you insights into your partners’ performance. These insights can help you make critical changes to your channel strategy to achieve optimum results and avoid oversight.
Real-time partner feedback
Your channel partners can provide actionable insights that can help you adjust your approach to addressing customer pain points.
Read more about effective channel partner management.
Based on the unique requirements of a business, channel partnerships take shape. They can be effectively managed using PRM solutions and enhance revenue growth strategies across different touchpoints.
What features should you look for in PRM software?
Some features that you should look for in a PRM software are partner profiles, partner portals, partner performance management, data integration, partner marketplace, and partner contract management.
How does PRM help increase ROI?
Partner relationship management helps increase ROI by providing businesses with a comprehensive view of how well their channel partners are doing, how they can empower their partners to do more, and what steps need to be taken to strengthen the partnership.
How can you create a successful partner relationship management strategy?
You can create a successful PRM strategy by using insights from PRM software to make decisions, streamlining lead management, onboarding, and training partners, and preventing partner churn through transparent communication.
Article | December 22, 2021
Today’s SaaS companies build their brands, expand their customer base, smartly utilize their resources, and scale their revenue through channel partnerships.
More than 40% of the $5 trillion global IT market is in North America. It accounts for more than 10% of the United States national economy and 11.8 million jobs. These numbers are possible because of successful channel partnerships within the SaaS ecosystem, which is made up of software publishers, computer systems design firms, computer programming service suppliers, and facilities management companies.
Carahsoft, a government IT solutions provider, resells DocuSign’s e-signature services to the public sector. Consequently, 800+ local, state, federal, and tribal agencies use DocuSign. A SaaS channel partnership similar to this benefit both partners and helps them generate revenue.
“We’re seeing more and more early-to mid-stage SaaS companies look to partnerships as a means to achieve their growth goals,” said Tyler Calder, Vice President of Marketing at PartnerStack, a partner management platform. “For many SaaS companies, getting started with an ambassador, affiliate, or referral program is the first step in developing a partner ecosystem strategy.”
Which Type of SaaS Channel Partners Bring in the Revenue?
System Integrators- This kind is ideal for complex products that need integration into an existing IT ecosystem.
Distributors- They provide an established distribution channel for their vendor’s product
Value-added resellers- They contribute to customer acquisition in new markets.
Managed service providers (MSP)- They monitor and maintain the IT infrastructure.
IT consultants- They provide independent IT advice, project management, and administrative services
SaaS companies generated 21% of the total revenue through channel partnerships, says SaaS Capital, in a 2018 survey.
Your Muse List for SaaS Channel Partnership
Commitment- Are your C-level executives ready to commit to a channel partnership? Also, consider human resources and budgeting to dedicate to the partnership.
Product readiness- Does your product appeal to your prospective channel partner? Ensure that your partner can get support and training to sell your product independently.
Focused sales & marketing teams- Do your sales and marketing teams have enough enablement material to help the channel partner sell your product effectively? You may want to consider preparing case studies, videos, scripts, and ICP documents in advance.
Streamlined operations- Try consultation or an expert opinion to figure out what kind of support you can provide to your partners through your sales, marketing, and success teams.
Though most partnerships start as an experiment for growth SaaS companies are steadfast today. They are redefining the way businesses operate and scale while acting as the backbone of revenue generation.
Article | February 28, 2022
Software start-ups frequently express concern about the next step of their worldwide expansion. Depending upon the size and scope of operations, the mantle for creating and driving the go-to-market strategy is with the CEO himself or the sales/marketing head. There could be some cases wherein the Head of Strategy or COO is entrusted with the responsibility of crafting the strategy and overseeing its execution.
For reasons beyond the obvious, some of the immediate references I have in my mind are Indian software start-ups and SaaS companies, in particular. 2021 was the year when the front runners of the Indian SaaS diaspora registered an unprecedented presence on a global scale. It’s not just 2021, though; let’s say for the past five odd years, expansion into the U.S., the U.K. and Western Europe has been on the wish list (almost without exception) of Indian SaaS CEOs and executive management. There is a thrust on entering these markets at an optimum budget. A compelling and relevant digital presence appears to be the obvious answer. Yes? More on this as we proceed.
Let me extend the problem statement a bit further. Any start-up (in almost any country) would like to see a quick return on their investment, while entering new markets can be really expensive. Do you hire local sales professionals to pound the streets? What kind of investment do you need for this? When can you expect to see a return, given that the sales executive will need time to better understand your product and market? Would hiring a solo salesperson serve the purpose, or do you need multiple salespersons? What kind of support system does he require to succeed in a new market where the competition includes not only larger global brands but also smaller, local players whom you should not underestimate? Would you be able to provide this support system on a remote basis? What kind of budget do you give the salesperson; does he (or she) get to attend all relevant industry events? If hiring a local salesperson sounds too expensive, can senior management fly out to the target geography once a month for that purpose and retain continuity in terms of being in the market and in front of the prospects, consistently? Or maybe just depute a senior salesperson to the target market? Again, what kind of support system and budget would s(he) need? As you have figured by now, there are too many questions, and not all of them have happy or agreeable answers. Cut to the chase; digital presence is the answer, isn’t it? Why do you need feet on the ground? Digital drives demand, and perhaps some of the demand gets converted into deals on a remote basis. Whatever requires higher “touch” can always be addressed by the “once-a-month” trip, isn’t it? Well, more on this as we proceed.
Now, let’s get to the crux of the matter. Digital presence, powered by digital marketing, is effective. I can vouch for this with my experience over the past decade, being at the apex of marketing for various software product start-ups. Here is the deal, though: good digital marketing can build your digital presence so that people find you when they are researching for the right reasons. A smart “outbound” marketing approach can also make its way into the prospect’s inbox (email/LinkedIn) and even get her attention. Add the latest developments to the mix – things like intent data and buying signals can make your outreach even sharper and more targeted. To cite an example, Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads can certainly bring in high-quality leads for you and serve as enablers to elevate brand awareness and brand recall.
Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads have entirely different dynamics, though, in terms of the spending, deal sizes, and ROI you can expect. But that is another nuance altogether, reserved as a separate topic of discussion altogether. Digital marketing can help you generate quality leads in a new market. But that's not the end game; that's just the top of the funnel, and the finish line is at the bottom of the funnel. There is a lot that happens in between.
This is where an effective partner network comes in. A good digital presence and smart digital marketing put you in front of your prospects. But the prospect has so many options, and even if you are operating in a niche market, your brand is unknown. In a B2B sales cycle, the journey from the top of the funnel to the bottom is very layered and complex. One of the key accelerators in this pursuit is your brand equity. Building brand awareness in a new market is time-consuming and very expensive if you decide to go the route of building regional business development teams, sponsoring local events, etc. This may not be a viable option for most startups. An appropriate course of action is to establish a network of a few trusted partner organizations that are extremely familiar with your service and can attest to your talents and credibility. Consider the following scenario: a partner with two decades of experience in a certain location introduces you to a prospect who may become a client of theirs. The partner assists you throughout the sales cycle and contributes to the development of trust with the prospective client. The digital outreach continues irrespectively, before and/or after the partner has introduced you to the prospect. Of course, the outreach should not be intrusive or repetitive – rather, it should reinforce the efforts of the partner organization. You absolutely must have a proxy sales team that benefits from a strong local network. Given the business viability of the relationship, the partner would have every motivation to make the agreement work for you.
So, is it as simple as that? Well, not really. In my experience, the whole process of identifying suitable partners and coming to an agreement with them on a mutually beneficial commercial model could be very time-consuming. It’s not just that; you also need to enable your partner (their client-facing teams) with your product knowledge. Once it is accomplished, the proverbial "chicken-and-egg" scenario occurs until the first contract is completed. In other words, until the first deal is closed, partners may be hesitant to exert substantial effort. And unless the best effort is made, the initial deal is unlikely.
A mix of a pervasive digital strategy coupled with an effective partner channel can enable a successful foray into new markets without having to go through the trials and tribulations of hiring a local sales team and building a local presence through cost-intensive events and conferences. To each her/his own, as they say, but probably most SaaS startups would want to consider partner channels as the spearhead for new market entry if they already are not.
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.