- Posted by Randy Hendriks
- On July 2, 2019
- 0 Comments
It can be difficult for early stage B2B Startups to scale and leverage their sales team. You may be trying to decide between outbound and inbound, but another way to grow sales is through leveraging sales channel partners. This sales strategy consists of selling your product through third party resellers, affiliates or value-added providers. Leveraging sales channel partners typically means paying a commission or providing some other value in return for qualified leads or closed sales. Here are 5 key strategies to consider when planning a channel partner program:
Find the Right Partners
Finding the right partner can come down to identifying an unmet need in a potential partner’s market. On the other hand, you may have identified an untapped demographic or geographic target, or a totally new vertical that you are unable to reach, but your partner can, by offering your product as a complementary offering. You should feel comfortable with your partner being a representative of your brand, as they will be your ambassador to your end user. Benefits of finding the right channel partner include built in trust which they’ve already established with your target customer, and a quick entry into the market to test new products. One key to recruiting channel partners is to be plugged into your ecosystem, whether that be on the local level or online networking groups.
What is Your Partner Looking For?
Is your partner looking for a cash commission? Referrals? Some other type of compensation? Its important to clarify any compensation and referral structures up front to avoid misunderstandings. At the same time, I’ve seen some sales agents spend weeks developing just the right “agreement” only to discover they are unable to produce any quantifiable sales.
Just as in other network building situations, you always want to be looking for ways to add value to your partners. Many organizations with sales channel models, such as Hubspot and Microsoft used a tiered partnership model providing greater rewards and recognition to “super-partners”.
Educate Team Members
While you may not expect your channel partner to be the expert on every element of your product you want to equip them to succeed. That might mean providing a training session (in person or online), one on one coaching, or a slide deck with basic talking points and FAQs. You want to make sure they have all the marketing materials necessary as well, including brochures or white papers. The higher your average selling price and the more frequent the sales opportunities present themselves the more time you should invest in training them.
Stay in Contact
It’s helpful to both set expectations regarding communication and be flexible to the communication style your partners are accustomed to. Some might prefer slack or email, while others simply want to jump on the phone when they have a question. If they are moving a deal through all the steps of the sales cycle on your behalf, you want to provide them all information necessary when questions and doubts are raised by the end-buyer.
Regular contact can also keep you and your company top of mind. With some organizations, a regular sales funnel review may be necessary. Remember not only are your channel partners providing you sales opportunities, but through regular communication you can receive feedback quickly from your target audience.
Returning to the theme of selecting the right partners, be sure your channel partners are not offering competing products or services. With one of our clients, who was offering financing for SMBs, we were able to align ourselves with two other banking organizations that offered complementary services that did not complete. This allowed us to both give and receive referrals and even work on deals together.
Keeping these points in mind, you may find some great opportunities to leverage sales channel partners in your business. Looking for more guidance on leveraging sales channel partners or B2B sales? Leave a comment or email us to find out more ways that we may be able to help you leverage channel sales opportunities with your business.