Running a business can be quite the challenge, especially when your business depends on channel partners to drive revenue. It can also be difficult to find channel partners who commit to your business and bring ROI. However, it is even more trying when it comes time to enable and encourage channel partners to sell your products.
In order for your channel partners and channel sales strategy to be successful, you need to ensure that your business is set up to enable the success you are looking for.
This blog will guide you through the steps you need to take in order to attract channel partners who will be ready to sell your products successfully.
Before we begin, it is important to note that the foundation of your business is of the utmost importance to not only the success of your channel partners but to yours as well. Like anything ever built, a strong foundation is required.
Step 1: Define a business strategy and let it be known
This seems like an obvious step. We all know that every business needs a strategy in place, otherwise, how are you operating? What most business owners fail to do is share their strategy with those involved in the business.
It is understandable that a business owner may not want to express all elements of their strategy in fear of their methodologies being discovered by the competition. But, we need to put some trust in our partners and employees. Remember, strategies should always be optimized, the turning wheel of your strategy will remain an element of your business that competitors won’t be able to get their hands on.
You may be wondering, why is sharing the business strategy with your channel partners so important? The answer is simple- if they don’t know what your goals are or/and the plan of action to reach those goals, how can you expect them to succeed in their role as a channel partner?
Step 2: Develop a marketing plan that includes a defined partner program and portal for partners
Now that you have a business strategy in place, it’s time to start executing the parts of your strategy that will benefit channel partners. This starts with your marketing plan.
Marketing is a huge part of sales. In most cases, marketing plays the big role of attracting perspective leads. In fact, one of the ultimate goals of marketing is to provide sales with the tools they need to close deals.
A portion of your marketing plan should be tailored to your channel partners. This includes defining a partner program and developing a partner platform or partner portal.
For starters, a partner program will clearly define the role a channel partner plays in your business, your expectations and the benefits they get from being a partner. Remember, when it comes to attracting channel partners, it’s a two-way street – you need to be attracted to your channel partner, and they need to be attracted to your business.
Like a partner program, having a professional website or portal for channel partners is essential to providing them with the right tools for success.
A partner portal will not only house all marketing pieces channel partners need, but it can also act as a communication and partner relationship management tool. The possibilities are endless!
Step 3: Building your channel partner base
Now that you have implemented everything needed to have successful channel partners, the final step in the process is to attract capable and qualified channel partners and retain them.
A lot of this retention can be done right on that partner portal from your marketing plan in step 2. A variety of marketing promotions and activities can be implemented using the portal to attract and retain channel partners.
Before any promotional activities can be launched, you must define the persona of your channel partners. What do they like? What are they interested in? How do they respond? Knowing your ideal channel partner will give you insights that can help advance your strategies, improve processes and optimize your business.
Here are a couple of promotional activities that you can run, utilizing your partner portal:
Share your ideas and provide thought leadership online and attract other like-minded individuals such as channel partners who may be interested in partnering with your business. It’s also a good way to reassure current partners of your standpoint and inspire them through your content.
Engage channel partners with content that educates them on a specific topic related to the business. Demonstrating your knowledge on a specific topic within the business is a great way to draw partners to your business.
Attending events as an exhibitor can really help extend your brand reach. Channel partners want to work with well-known and established businesses. Trade shows can assist with building and increasing your brand awareness and reputation.
An online community is an amazing way to keep channel partners engaged. The community not only provides support for channel partners but it can also act as an open discussion forum where partners can connect on various topics.
Sharing resources such as supporting documents, brochures, e-books etc. helps keep channel partners informed. Resources can also be transformed into playbooks that channel partners can use when closing sales.
Ready, set, attract, and retain
Now that you have taken the steps needed to have successful channel partners. It’s time for you to get out there and attract and retain channel partners who will help grow your business.
Remember, having a strong foundation in place for your channel partners will really help propel your business to success.