A successful channel/partner/reseller model can offer scalability, quick growth, extra sales resources and access to mature customer bases. Sounds perfect? It does, but beware, building a partner ecosystem also requires meticulous planning, research and investment.
Consider these 6 points when you’re building or expanding your reseller channel sales model.
1. Allow for a channel sales play
Test it with a partner to see if it’s actually got a chance of working. You can save a lot of time, expense, and heartache to see if this route to market will be an effective and profitable way to scale your sales. If a channel for your products and services that you can slot into doesn’t already exist, it’s going to be tough to create one. Maybe a referral type model will work better.
2. Don’t expect quick miracles
Typically, building channel sales and identifying potential partners takes a long time. It may be your #1 priority but that doesn’t make it the resellers’ top priority. You will need to show them it can work and deliver some low-hanging deals or prospects early on to cement the relationship and establish value.
3. Enable your resellers
Don’t forget, resellers are your route to new clients and you’re going to have to train them to sell and support your products or services and all that entails. This will be a distraction to your own sales processes if you are also selling directly, so you will need to think about creating your own channel sales and support team to manage, train, and certify the partners and co-sell with them.
Resellers will expect you to market your own products. So, in addition to your own demand creation and pipeline development efforts, you will need to consider creating a channel marketing team to support the resellers in doing the same. Don’t forget, you will need to organize events, webinars, seminars, and product collateral for and with your partners.
5. Demand for sales
Realize and accept that like most sales people, resellers will usually sell products where demand already exists and will therefore expect you to create demand for your own products, especially early on in the relationship. Be prepared to pass them deals and lots of leads while you establish the relationship. It’s not a two way street to start with. Recognize that you will need to put all of the effort in initially and it will pay dividends later.
6. Expect channel churn
Churn is inevitable. Unfortunately, somewhere between 10 – 15% of your channel partners will likely be lost over the course of 12 to 18 months. What’s more, your exposure to this churn can be disproportionate if you then apply the 80/20 rule. Always keep engaged with your partners to minimize losing them and focus on your best ones.
Pick the right partners! It’s easy and tempting to go for quantity in the hope somebody will sell something. Instead, focus on quality and fit, where diligence, time, and effort will deliver sustainable results in the long term. Build the best reseller channel you can afford from the very start.