Having the right channel partner program starts with getting the right partners and then making sure you really understand their business requirements and priorities.
Have a Robust Partner Profile
The best way to get the right partners is to make sure you have a well-defined idea of your ideal partner, and then vet prospective partners through a partner profile.
There is no one size fits all partner profile. Your profile needs to gather the information needed to understand your partners in relation to the program. Consider including the following components of their business:
- Where they do business
- Who their customers are
- What they sell (complimentary & competitive)
- Business goals
- Company demographic information
For partners that you already have, a review of the data you’ve gathered (deal registrations, MDF results, etc.) will provide insight. For data that is missing, work with the partner to collect any gaps to understand if they are still a good fit. For those that are a fit but may be underperforming, this opens a great opportunity to re-engage, create a business plan between you and your partner, and work towards new goals.
A robust partner profile will help you understand who your partners are and allow you to identify trends across your channel partner program. This is the first step to knowing your partners.
Understand Your Partner’s Business
This might sound like a challenging task, but it could be the key to making sure you are truly aligned with your partners. Understanding your partner’s business goes beyond profiling data and into the details of their business. Here are some things to consider when diving deeper into your partner’s business:
- Understand their timelines – Not everyone runs on the same fiscal calendar. This can make planning tricky, but knowing what you are up against will help you maximize timing. This will help you better plan the use of marketing funds and promotions.
- Determine what systems they use – Do they have a CRM? Are they using a marketing platform? Is their website updated often? Understanding these components will help you understand how sophisticated your partners are. You will also be able to identify ways to help them sell your products and align with the way they can do business.
- Gather their business goals – Knowing your partner’s business goals is crucial to long-term alignment. Look for goals that are common to your partners. This will help you develop programs and content that will align you and your partners long term.
Identify your Partner’s Strengths (and Weaknesses)
Not all partners are created equal. Getting to know your partner means understanding where they shine and where they don’t. This often means understanding their technical level of expertise. It could also encompass the various services they offer and their certifications and specializations. This can be a tricky area to navigate, as you and your channel managers might have to go with your gut instinct and leverage customer references. When analyzing partner strengths consider:
- Understand the team within the partner –What are their backgrounds? How long have they been with the company/in the industry? What are their roles?
- Evaluate their customers – Who are their customers? Do they align with your products and services? Are they happy?
- Look at their offerings – Are they focused on the things they do well? Do they have a value-add for the customer?
Understanding your partners’ strengths will help you align your business with theirs. If there is not a logical match, you may need to re-evaluate your relationship.
Don’t stop with understanding who your partners are. Nurture those relationships to create success for both your channel partner program, and them. For more information on building a strong partner relationship, read our eBook: 5 keys to building strong relationships in Channel Marketing.