Six key elements for channel partner program success

A great channel partner program can effectively make or break a technology product or service, if that’s your route to market. But it needs the right level of planning, execution and ongoing nurture to get real results. The KickDrum team have built and/or executed multiple channel partner programs between us, many of which have been award winning, so I decided to poll the team and share what we consider to be the basics of a great program.

We’ll dig into these in more detail in upcoming posts, sharing our practical experience, but for now, bookmark this list of six key elements to consider in the quest for 5-star channel partner program success:

1. Align the entire business to a channel model

Selling through the channel impacts almost the entire business, so do the upfront work to engage with key stakeholders to ensure alignment of objectives and responsibilities, structures and processes – even metrics for measuring success. 

Effective partner programs require significant commitment across the board and will need support from every function in order to succeed. 

2. Select the right partners

How are you going to evaluate potential partners to ensure they’re the right fit? 

Some things to consider include their:

  • presence and access to your target market.
  • reputation and ability to develop  trust and credibility for you and your offering.
  • financial stability,  track record and growth potential
  • technical expertise and ability in pre and post sales support
  • sales and marketing expertise
  • attitude to collaboration and openness in communication
  • ethical approach to doing business – after all, they are your representative. 

3. Focus, focus, focus

Trying to recruit and onboard as many partners as possible should not be the aim, because it’s likely that most of the value will come from a core group of partners.

Structure the program so that 80% of resource and effort is spent working and developing channel partnerships with a core group of partners. Outside of this group, some resources and effort (say 15-20%) should be spent on allowing as much engagement as possible with the wider group. 

4. Make the relationship “frictionless”

Your partners, almost always, don’t need you. They have vendors knocking on their door every day, and so will select and focus on just a few of them. To be the most compelling proposition in the room, you’ll want to be the fastest, easiest, most “frictionless” way to make the relationship mutually profitable. You will need:

  • A clear USP: have an interesting and unique proposition that they can quickly understand and articulate.
  • Training and assets: In-depth product knowledge, sales strategies, and marketing materials. 
  • Support in sales engagements: access to the technical, marketing, and operational assistance necessary to close deals effectively.
  • Deal registration: crucial for preventing channel conflict and protecting reseller margins. 
  • Technical support: access to support to enable resellers to address customer inquiries and concerns promptly
  • Partner portal: Self service access to the tools, processes and information needed for success 
  • Program documentation and clear rules of engagement
  • Transparent communication and feedback mechanisms.
  • Co-marketing funds: providing financial support for joint marketing campaigns, events, or co-branded collateral. How these funds are used can be key to long term growth.

5. Motivation & Reward in your channel partner program 

So you’ve got your army of partners onboarded and keen to make sales. Keeping them that way is critical. Consider:

  • Tiering a channel partner program: enabling partners to access more value from the program as they demonstrate success. Start simple to avoid being overly complicated, then you can always modify the program later as you grow.
  • Value-add margin opportunities: including special pricing or discount structures, allowing resellers to increase their profitability when selling your technology.
  • Incentives: such as sales performance bonuses or even non-monetary benefits like exclusive access to new product releases. 

Remember, you are in competition for their mind share.

6. Working it together with the core partners

Relationships with a core group of partners need to be managed actively. This includes:

  • Having a business plan that is well understood, committed to, and formally signed off by both sides. 
  • Formal and regular review meetings

Marketing, sales and any other relevant folks should be invited depending on what’s going on at the time, and these should be documented in an ongoing shared document

Incorporating these basic elements into your partner program will give you a great foundation for success, and will help you stand out as a top choice for resellers.

Of course, the devil is in the details, which is where our years of first hand experience building and running these kinds of programs becomes invaluable.

We’ll share some more of that in upcoming posts, but if you can’t wait and would prefer to talk now, just contact us, and let’s talk!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *