You’ve done your research to find and recruit channel sales partners. You’ve put in the effort to onboard them. And now you’re wondering if your efforts have paid off.
Moving a product through an indirect sales channel is a difficult endeavor. In partner programs, end customers engage with salespeople who work outside of your internal team. This requires trust, communication, and effective measurement.
Think that managing channel partners sounds a little like herding cats? With the right partners, it doesn’t have to be. Let’s review some signs that can help indicate if your channel partners are ideal fits.
1. They understand your product's customers, or they have similar customers.
Channel partners interface with numerous companies and products. And at any given time, it can be assumed that your partners are selling products other than your own. Rather than let competition get to your head, it’s wise to interface with partners that understand—or even sell—the products that your customers are using.
Partners that have insight into your competitors’ products can help you identify gaps in the market and areas for improvement. Plus, if they already have a general understanding of your industry, it’s far easier to train them on specific usage and nuances.
2. Their expertise aligns with what your customer is looking for.
Building on the first point, the perfect partner is one that not only possesses technical knowledge but also one that knows exactly what your customers are looking for. In the channel, everything comes back to the customer. Your partners are an extension of your team—so it only makes sense to work with individuals who have an understanding of your existing customers.
If your partners have worked with end users like yours, know how to speak to specific personas, and ultimately identify a return on investment for your end users, they are an ideal fit.
3. They have demonstrated strong financial performance.
It’s important to never lose sight of the numbers. Establishing goals is one thing; supporting them with real data helps illustrate exactly how a specific sales partner is performing.
What’s one of the easiest ways to identify if partners are succeeding? By seeing if they’re bringing in deals. Quantifiably measuring your channel can help gauge the health of a partner relationship. Some metrics worth measuring are:
Deals accepted or denied
Deals won or lost
Overall value of wins
No matter what you track, partners that perform positively are worth holding on to.
4. They get social (on your behalf).
Social media has altered the way that customer-facing businesses operate. Buyers, resellers, and solution providers are using social media to conduct business and build professional partnerships. When partners share content and interact with potential partners on their social media networks, you benefit.
Just like with any professional relationship, ongoing and effective communication is essential. Business moves at breakneck speed—so partners must be able to inform your team of any chances or updates immediately.
Engaged partners are those that make the most of your news feeds, social media channels, chat features, or any other communication tools you have implemented. Sure, it’s your responsibility to keep them in the loop regarding any chances within your company. But it’s equally important that partners respond appropriately.
6. They keep refreshing and updating their approach.
The sales world never stops moving. You should constantly reconsider how to best position your product and which types of partner sell them best. On the same token, partners must also be on the lookout for areas of improvement—and should show signs of innovation and proactive thinking. The best partners can help you identify new markets where your product can fit.
Success is a moving target. Tweaking your partner program—and having your partners change their approach—is a surefire way to meet any market shift.
7. They use the materials you are providing them.
Your marketing team has spent hours producing collateral and content to reach prospects at every stage of their buyer’s journey. The best partners not only access this content, but they use it to attract prospects and close deals.
Vendors must be cognizant of the overall structure of their partnerships. In other words, your channel must account for partner diversity and establish mutually beneficial relationships. Enablement tools help teams ensure that partners are making the most of their marketing materials. Partner-centric content and collateral not only help your partners sell—they ensure that they are getting the most from your partnership.