Six Keys to an Effective Channel Strategy

By Seth Jacobsen Posted on 7/6/16, 10:40 AM

There's little doubt that for new vendors on the market, the first year or two of building a productive collection of channel partners to help you grow is a challenge. With so much competition for channel attention, you need to stand out from the start to help attract and enable new partners.

That's precisely what Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software is built for. A single SaaS-based solution for channel management, which can scale from small to large organizations just as quickly as your channel program grows. But we've learned that success doesn't actually start with a PRM solution.

Based on our experience working with small-to-mid-size businesses in the developing phases of a channel program, we've identified six key areas which are necessary for rapid and successful channel growth.

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Six Keys For Growing Your Channel Partnerships Successfully

CMO's Guide To Managing Sales Channel Partners

1 - Have a plan.

Make sure your internal sales, marketing, and operational teams are aligned with your goals to build a channel. All too often the sales department is tasked with building out a channel program, but may not have the resources and buy-in from marketing or operations. Beyond guidelines on which markets you're targeting and what you desire in a partner, pre-plan for the materials you'll need to develop. At this phase its critical to know if the revenue goals can be supported with the proper marketing material and capacity resources from operations. 

Putting these guidelines in place internally will allow you to successfully begin to bring the right partners into your program at a rate that meets your operational capabilities. Additionally, communicating this strategy and setting forth clear terms and conditions as part of your partnership agreement allow you to make sure you are setting proper expectations from the outset.

2 - Recruit the right partners - and impress them.

The partner signup system on your website or PRM platform should be simple to use, and full of assurances on the quality of support you'll be prepared to offer your channels. Remember that ease-of-business is one of the biggest key factors in sales partners choosing vendors to work with. These partners will often align themselves to those who make it easier for them to grow their own business. Having the right systems and processes in place to support your joint marketing plans, sales playbooks, marketing collateral, and training resources is a critical first step.

3 - Simplify the onboarding process.

This is one of the areas where PRM software truly shines. It can host a full range of training and onboarding materials, with knowledge checks along the way that can be tracked at the individual level. Not only does this give you a better indication of which partners are prepared to sell your products, but login trends and asset utilization reports allow you to measure partner engagement. If you've prepared the materials beforehand and have a clear set of goals for partner certification, they'll be able to breeze through what is often a lengthy and tedious process.

Keep track of their results, and use the insights collected to further refine the process for future partners.

4 - Provide the right sales and marketing material.

Few things can more quickly assure new and potential partners that working with you will be easy than to have a large archive of documentation, videos, and other content ready to be used or repurposed. Utilizing PRM here eliminates the maze of ad-hoc storage solutions, like Dropbox or Google Drive, often employed by smaller organizations, which can be highly annoying for local staff to access - especially if several such methods are being used.

Clearly organize the content by type - marketing, sales, technical data, etc - so that partners can easily locate and download exactly what they need when they need it.

5 - Start priming your sales lead pipeline.

Another great aspect to PRM is how effectively you can implement a deal registration and lead sharing process. PRM can be intergrated with your CRM which allows you to start funneling leads down to partners at the local level. Likewise, partners should be encouraged to register deals within the PRM system based on the processes you have outlined for exclusivity or pricing discounts.

Delivering qualified leads to your partners is a proven route to gaining mindshare. Providing the targeted sales support they need from there will keep them invested in promoting your products and services.

6 - Measure and report progress.

Most PRM systems have robust analytics built-in, which makes it simple to evaluate your progress and understand what is driving success - and what else needs to be improved upon. In the early stages of company growth, it's relatively easy to implement changes to the process, so the more refinement you can do early on, the better.

Don't be stingy about the data, either. Make as much as possible available through the PRM to your partners, so they can know where they stand and how the ecosystem as a whole is doing.

Early Standardization Makes For Smooth Growth

It might be easy for a small vendor to wonder if it's worth investing in a software platform early on. But the answer is not always yes! We have found that the most important factors of a successful PRM implementation are making sure that you have an effective strategy in the planning and recruitment phases. From there, a single system which can scale based on your needs will almost certainly save you a lot of headaches in the long run. 

For more information, contact LogicBay for a free demonstration of our revolutionary Partner Management System. It's a perfect fit for vendors of all sizes.

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