25 Expert Resources to Kickstart Your Channel Partner Program
Channel partnerships can be a highly profitable avenue for your company. By leveraging sales forces other than your own, you can open the door to new customers and revenue streams that can potentially revolutionize your business. In fact, channel partner programs are widely touted as one of the most effective ways to accelerate and scale growth, particularly for IT companies, SaaS providers, and similar companies, although channel partner marketing can be effective for many business models – provided that the program is set up in such a way that partners receive adequate support and the outcome is win-win for everyone.
Developing a winning partner program, however, is easier said than done. There are many things to consider as you look to secure and develop channel partnerships. What types of companies would make ideal partners? Who within your organization will be responsible for driving channel partner program growth and supporting your partners? How will you measure and evaluate performance? What pricing tiers and incentives should you offer to motivate partners and drive growth? Is your CRM system versatile and capable of supporting a robust channel partner eco-structure? What other software applications will you need to facilitate a functional partner program? These and many other questions must be carefully considered before undertaking a channel partner program initiative.
When you lay the foundation for an effective channel partner program and offer comprehensive partner support and collaboration throughout the relationship, your partners are more motivated to produce results (particularly when the incentives are right), and everyone wins.
Given the myriad of factors involved building a successful channel partner program, the task may seem overwhelming. For this reason many companies shy away from implementing channel partner programs when such a program is just the ingredient needed to accelerate growth to the next level. The idea of hiring dedicated professionals to manage your partner program may seem like an added expense, for instance, but putting the right systems in place to provide robust support for your partners is an investment that pays off multi-fold for most organizations.
We’ve chosen the following 25 resources to help you build the right foundation as you establish your channel partner program. These blog posts, presentations, webinars, and guides offer step-by-step processes for building a channel partner program, valuable best practices for ongoing channel partner marketing support and collaboration, key considerations and systems, and everything you need to know to build a solid foundation for a functional, scalable channel partner program.
1. Slideshare: 12 Steps to Build a Professional Partner Program
Intrapreneur and business model innovator, Daniel Nilsson developed a thorough guide on how to set up a winning channel partner program which can be viewed on SlideShare. In the guide Daniel outlines his 12 step partner program methodology. Extensively researched and well presented, the guide covers topics like success factors for partner sales, partner motivation drivers, frameworks, and the internal systems you will need. The guide is a great resource for those companies embarking on a channel partner program, while those who already have established partner programs should also read Daniel’s guide to see how their programs line up with these best practices.
2. Blog Post: 5 Tips to Improve Channel Partner Lead Generation
It is important not to underestimate the role inbound marketing can play in your channel partner program. HubSpot have out together an excellent 5 point plan for incorporating inbound methodologies into your channel partner marketing strategy. The short guide offers some best practices and use cases on landing pages, SEO, and email marketing.
3. Blog Post: 4 Best Practices to Keep Your Channel Partner Marriage Happy
Drew Zarges, Senior Consultant at Sales Benchmark Index, put together a 4 point guide to keep your channel partner marriage on track. Among the best practices put forward by Drew are joint sales calls, field visits, advisor councils, and marketing campaigns. Check out this guide to learn how to align your channel partner’s profitability with the success of your product.
4. Webinar: 6 Insights on How to use Smart Data to Grow your Channel
Much of the success of your channel partner program will depend on your ability to collect, store, interpret and access important data and partner information. In this webinar, Owen McKee, Director of Sales at Channelinsight and Rod Baptie, President at Baptie & Co., share some insights on how vendors can grow their channel with the right data. Topics covered include CRM and PRM systems, data quality, and channel data analytics.
5. Video: ChannelChat: Make The Most Of Your Incentive Programs
Incentives can help to boost enagegemt with your partners. However the best way to incorporate incentives into your partner strategy is up for debate. In this ChannelChat video Alicia Florletta and Dan Hawtof of Blackhawk Engagement Solutions talk through some incentive best practices and provide some actionable tips.
6. Blog Post: 5 Tips for Successful Channel Marketing
Brian Tervo, the President and Chief Executive Of North American Operations, TIE Kinetix, put together some analytical insights on channel marketing. Vendors, according to Brian, must work hard to match the desire of their channel partners to generate more leads and fill the customer pipeline. Brian outlines a 5 point process to help vendors grow their channel revenue. Items discusses include how to identify holes in the channel marketing funnel, leveraging the right content, marketing automation, web traffic and campaign analysis.
7. Webinar: The Secret Sauce for Accelerating Indirect Sales
With a webinar that lives up to its title, Impartner reveal the expert tips and secrets you need to know to make your channel partner program a success. Featuring thought leaders Denis Pombriat, Managing Principle, Beagle Research and Dave R.Taylor, Impartner CMO, this webinar provides the definitive review of partner relationship management.
8. Webinar: Five Vital Signs to Monitor Partner Program Health
With more and more data at your disposal it can be difficult to choose which metrics to focus on. Luckily, Relayware have put together a webinar that outlines 5 key metrics to measure your channel marketing and sales efforts against. The webinar is presented by leading experts at Relayware including Jim Somers, CMO; Tim Harmon, VP, Customer Success; and Chris Bucholz, Director of Content.
9. Blog Post: Five tips for effective channel sales development
Mareting thought leader Matt Heinz turned his focus to the channel in this post. He outline 5 quick and very actionable insights you can use to boost your channel revenue. Areas covered include sales by sales channel goals, channel accuracy, forecasting, sales toolkits, compensation.
10. Blog Post: 10 Tips For A Successful IT Channel
Robert Faletra is CEO of The Channel Company and a renowned expert in this space. In this post he puts together 10 great tips for running a successful IT channel. This post is a quick read but well worth your time to get some expert insights on compensation, aligning your company with your channel program, metrics, and clear rules of engagement for direct sales.
11. Guide: Unlock the Channel: The Complete Guide to Channel Sales & Marketing
OpenView Partners offers this in-depth guide on building a stable and profitable SaaS channel program. A clear, actionable playbook for navigating the complex path to establishing functional and effective channel partner programs, this guide walks you through every facet of the process from building your team to executing your plan, understanding what to measure, and how to turn your channel partner program into a stable, scalable machine.
Matthew Buckley touts the benefits of establishing a strong channel partner program for SaaS companies, noting that an effective channel partner program is a proven way to accelerate company growth. Buckley examines the key mechanisms, goals, structures, and business questions to consider when establishing a partner program, including tips for how to structure your program and establishing the right financial models as well as the best marketing assets to fuel your partner program roll-out.
13. Blog Post: Three Reasons You Need Analytics to Master Your Channel Marketing Strategy
Channel partner programs can be a highly efficient way to grow your business or a tremendous drain on your resources, depending on how well you choose partners, configure your program, and support your partners. This blog post by Farnaz Erfan makes the case for tapping into data to select the best partners, protect your price, and differentiate your products for big wins.
14. Blog Post: 10 Tips for Collaborating with Channel Partners
Rich Blakeman takes a deep dive into the relationships between channel partners and territory managers, offering 10 valuable tips for effective collaboration based on real-world observations of what can go wrong – and right – in the field. From establishing KPIs and celebrating wins to taking ownership of the relationship and establishing written rules of engagement, Blakeman’s tips are essential best practices for any channel partner program. You should also check out Blakeman’s two previous posts on this subject, How to Sell a Partner to the Territory Manager and Relationship Mapping Explained. Overall, Channel Enablers is an excellent resource for companies starting or managing channel partner programs.
15. Slideshare: Channel Partner Marketing: Next Practices Guide
Modern Marketing Partners provides this in-depth guide to best practices in channel partner marketing including four reasons why effective channel partner marketing is more crucial than ever, 10 best practices for channel partners, a channel partner marketing process flow chart, a case study, and other resources. From analyzing market opportunities to the key elements in providing comprehensive vendor support, this guide details the entire channel partner marketing process from start to finish.
In this post at Channel Insider, Howard M. Cohen examines the need for companies to understand – and meet – the needs of their partners. Cohen points out that for more than three decades, the channel has proven to be the only effective way to “reach, penetrate, sell and support enough customers.” With your partners playing an integral role in the ability to scale these efforts, ensuring that your program is identifying and fulfilling partner needs is equally as crucial for success.
Channel Maven’s Building Successful Channel Programs ebook is an informative resource for companies building or expanding channel partner marketing programs, noting that in today’s saturated markets, companies often have to recruit, attract, and retain partners rather than take their pick of the many partners that were once clamoring for opportunities. In this ebook, Channel Maven “discusses how to stand out by providing your partners with the programs and resources that will help them reach their goals as well as help you sell more solutions.”
Many of today’s channel partner programs are stuck in a rut. lacking the focus and strategic action to capture the attention of the modern buyer. This ebook from Zift Solutions unlocks the six secrets of high-performance channel marketing, examining how industry leaders are developing and maintaining effective channel partner programs through proper partner targeting, multi-tactic marketing approaches, uncovering hidden opportunities, measuring success with analytics, and more.
Partner loyalty can be fickle, an issue tackled in this article at CompTIA. Brian Sherman explains that partners are focused on making the best decisions that make sense for their business and their clients’ needs, making it all the more challenging for enterprises running partner programs to develop solutions and support partners in such a way that they meet not only their partners’ needs, but the needs of the end customer as well. Focusing on partner and customer needs is key to shaping the channel program of the future, and Sherman explains how to develop solutions that consider the entire ecosystem.
Gary Morris, a 25+ year business, marketing, and channel executive, discusses creating channel partner marketing programs that empower partners to generate ROI. “Understanding where your partner capabilities stand today can help channel executives set realistic expectations, build programs that align with their capabilities, and develop enablement programs to improve partner’s ability to generate demand,” Morris explains. Morris recommends the use of partner marketing scorecards, which are “used to measure individual partner capabilities, compare across the entire partner ecosystem, set goals with individual partners, and measure improvements quarterly.”
Poor communication is the second most common reason channel partner programs fail. The reason is that marketers – or channel partner enablers – often underestimate what it takes to truly generate enthusiasm and boost partner engagement, particularly in the modern climate where partners have a plethora of choices when it comes to choosing vendors to work with. This white paper from Blackhawk Engagement Solutions offers clear-cut guidance on how to deploy the most successful channel partner program possible by maximizing participation and enhancing audience engagement through strategic communication.
22. Slideshare: The Role of Channel Partner Management
Aristoteles Kabarganos, Managing Partner at Ariston Group Performance Consulting, shares this guide to strategic channel partner management, which outlines the importance of a channel partner program in the overall sales and marketing mix. This slide deck covers the benefits of channel partner programs, why effective program management is essential for optimizing results, the key components of effective partner management, and more.
23. Slideshare: 6 Best Practices to Build a Top Performing Channel
Hawkeye, now Hawkeye by Vistex, outlines the six best practices for building a top-performing channel in this guide posted at Slideshare. Learn what it takes to build a best-in-class channel ecosystem, including the importance of evolving your program to meet the needs of the rapidly changing partner eco-structure, running a data-driven channel management organization, cultivating a top-notch partner experience, and more.
In this blog post, Shankar Ganapathy covers the three primary channel partner strategies: Exclusive, Targeted, and Global. Ganapathy explains for which scenarios each strategy is best, the key challenges in implementation, and how to best enable partners in each strategy model.
This in-depth guide by Craig Justice delves into the complexities of creating an effective sales strategy, explaining, “Channel management is not rocket science. It’s as straightforward as football, where proper attention must be given to fundamentals.” Justice provides information on why to use channels, tips for planning, developing your value proposition for channel partners, and everything you need to know to kickstart an effective channel partner program.
There are many excellent resources on building and managing effective channel partner programs. If it’s time to take your company’s growth to the next level, these 15 resources are a great place to begin learning the fundamentals and putting the right processes and systems in place to set your program up for scalable success from the start.
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