This bounces off the post we wrote last week, where we explained the three things to consider before shopping for a channel solution.
Not getting ready before moving to the “aim” and “fire” phases may be the most common reason for the failure of an indirect channel marketing strategy. You can invest the time now in fully planning your channel marketing strategy, or you can pick up the pieces in a year or so and try to do your planning after an unsuccessful first attempt at effectively managing your channel.
The beauty of getting ready first is that you can avoid all those drains on revenue and resources that are created by too little forethought. Establishing clear processes and making decisions about all the details of your partner strategy also makes it possible to more accurately monitor results of your channel sales program and make the right tweaks when they’re needed.
Below are some questions to help with the planning:
- What are your company’s goals and objectives for the channel marketing program?
- How will these goals and objectives be reflected in your partner relationship management approach?
- Who will champion the indirect sales channel and focus on ensuring its success?
- How will you segment the channel?
- What kind of buying experience are your customers looking for?
- How many partners will you need for a successful partner program?
- What skills, expertise and contacts do the ideal partners possess?
- What makes your product a great one for partners to resell?
- What levels will be included in your partner incentive program? (Two is not enough)
- What’s your goal for revenue per partner?
- Where (geographically and in terms of industry) do you need to start recruiting your partners?
- How will you monitor changes in the market that indicate you need to change your geographic or industry recruiting focus?
- How will you train and support new partners?
- What programs will be in place to prevent channel sales conflict and margin erosion?
- How will your partners share information about the market and your product?
- How will your channel marketing plan and processes scale as you grow?
Once you have answered all of these questions and included them in your go-to-market plan, you can then begin the AIM and FIRE portion of building out your strategy. Since you will have defined the partners that will be the key targets for you, you can then easily hand over these targets to a recruitment force, sales team, or business development team (or person) to make contact and get them on board as a partner within your channel.
Having a simple process for onboarding partners can result in a quick time to market for them to begin firing sales your way. Leveraging a channel management software and analytics package can help maintain traction, monitor successes for replication, and easily identify and address areas for improvement.