Nine Tips to Find and Recruit Channel Partners
If you’re running a channel sales operation, you know that finding the right partners is crucial. Currently, 60 percent of channel partners report needing better systems and processes to ensure quality, which means you need to have a solid recruitment plan in place. If you’re ready to attract more of the best, most productive partners out there, then it’s time to figure out how you can find and recruit channel partners with whom you can build mutually beneficial relationships.
Here are 9 ways to find and recruit the best channel partners:
1. DEFINE YOUR CHANNEL PARTNER PROGRAM BEFORE STARTING RECRUITING
A strong product won’t be enough to convince other companies to promote it on your behalf. You need to have a comprehensive channel program and strategies on how to convey its unique selling points to newly found prospective partners. Collaborate with your internal marketing team to finesse promotional messaging, particularly on your company’s webpage.
What’s more, you need to anticipate candidates’ questions and have answers ready. Make sure you can confidently address:
- What is your commission structure?
- Does your partner program offer growth opportunities for greater revenue share?
- Are there additional perks partners can expect outside of revenue?
- What does the onboarding process look like?
- What is the estimated time commitment you expect from program participants, especially in regards to onboarding?
- In what ways can you help promote your partners, and is that available to everyone or a select group?
To further elevate your partner recruitment strategy, prepare materials that acknowledge these points.
If you remain ambiguous about any of the above, you’re simply not ready to actively find and recruit new channel partners. After all, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression!
2. DON’T FOCUS YOUR RECRUITMENT MESSAGING EXCLUSIVELY ON THE MONEY
Business is business. However, you can’t underestimate the human element that underlines many financial decisions. Present your brand as friendly, creative, open-minded, trustworthy, and respectful. Ideally, partners should be excited to collaborate with your team and form a working relationship.
There are numerous ways you can convey this throughout your partner recruitment conversations and content. Perhaps emphasize the regular one-on-one communication in which you ask for feedback and share performance reports. Or why not discuss opportunities to co-market joint initiatives offered to high-achievers? A quality PRM expresses elevated sophistication that will prove attractive to partners.
3. IDENTIFY AND CATER TO YOUR POTENTIAL PARTNERS
To find the best channel partners, you need to implement the fundamentals of inbound marketing. Ask yourself who your ideal partner is and develop a persona—a fictional, generalized character that represents the various needs, goals, and behavior patterns among your real and potential partners.
By creating a persona for your ideal partner, you can begin to craft relevant, useful content such as blog posts, white papers, press releases, and newsletters. It helps to be able to ask yourself “Would VP of Marketing, Sally care about this content? Would this content help her be more efficient in her current role?” By identifying which content types and topics are relevant to your persona, you can easily begin pulling potential partners into the funnel and understanding which partners are a good fit. 96 percent of B2B buyers want content from industry thought leaders, so building a robust, diverse content library can position your company as an industry expert and help you recruit the partners best positioned to connect with prospective customers.
For inspiration, look no further than Databox. Their CEO and former HubSpot VP of Sales Pete Caputa describes what happened when HubSpot was preparing to launch a partner program: “From day one, we started hosting a lot of educational webinars. … When they were over, I just sat back and watched the interest in our program fly in.” Hubspot was able to identify their key personas, give them content that was relevant, and successfully find more channel partners.
4. KNOW YOUR PARTNERS’ TARGET CUSTOMERS
Even channel partners with the most potential might not be the right fit if your product doesn’t appeal to their core customer base. Newly recruited channel partners need to know that working with your company will establish a mutually beneficial and profitable relationship, which means you need to know who their customers are and whether a partnership makes sense. Otherwise, marketing to their business connections will be next to impossible.
5. BUILD YOUR PRESENCE ON PUBLICATIONS AND CHANNELS WITH WHICH YOUR IDEAL PARTNERS REGULARLY INTERACT
Prior to this step, you laid the groundwork for your program and crafted messaging designed to address candidates’ main priorities. Now is the time to shine a spotlight on your brand and channel offering!
Identify which social media channels your ideal partners are likely to utilize and nurture a presence through regular engagement. This strategy doesn’t only pertain to your company’s social profiles, but your leadership’s as well. The goal is to start dialogues, build perceived authority, and slowly cultivate relationships. Don’t make the mistake of using social media solely to promote yourself and channel program.
Take your promotion one step further by considering what publications your ideal candidates trust. Guest podcasting or contributing an article to strategically chosen outlets can significantly boost brand awareness amongst targeted decision-makers.
Similar to the above, don’t shy away from establishing an industry presence through networking. Whether you are the star speaker at an event, operate a booth at a conference, or shake hands at a happy hour, each interaction puts a memorable face to a company name.
Your efforts to foster industry connections should lead to more prospective partners finding you rather than vice versa. Plus, when you do want to advertise your partner program, candidates should be much more receptive to your recruitment efforts.
6. CREATE “FOMO” BY PROMOTING EXISTING PARTNERS AND CASE STUDIES
We’ve all heard the phrase “show, don’t tell.” Take this idiom to heart by promoting partners on your website, co-branding joint materials, and celebrating their successes on social media. Most importantly? Case studies!
Such strategies bring attention to your channel and demonstrate to others the types of rewards that they could enjoy. Additionally, they keep current partners engaged.
7. CONTINUALLY ASSESS YOUR PARTNER RECRUITMENT FUNNEL TO FIND IMPROVEMENTS
Not every conversation you have with a prospect will ultimately lead to a new partner. However, even the ones that don’t work out will bring value if you learn from them. If a company ultimately declines to join, politely ask for feedback. You may start to discern similarities between different individuals’ answers or the point in which they choose to disengage.
Is your revenue share not competitive enough? Are informative materials failing to resonate with the readers? Such insights can go a long way to improving the effectiveness of your partner recruitment tactics.
8. SPOTLIGHT YOUR PRM AS PART OF YOUR PARTNER RECRUITMENT CONVERSATIONS
Partners naturally seek assurance of smooth operations, battle-tested strategies, and your overall dedication to their success. After all, a partner program that runs like a well-oiled machine fueled by new sales content and marketing will make it easier for them to sell products.
Set up recently recruited candidates with their own prospect pages within your PRM so they can witness first-hand the enticing new customer experience. Share with them a sneak peek of your content library in which they can view its robustness and ease of use.
Your willingness to invest in technology demonstrates professionalism and commitment to their long-term success.
9. DEDICATE TIMES TOWARDS A WELL-DESIGNED PARTNER PAGE
Don’t de-value your partner page, as this is content all prospects will read sooner or later. Make sure your messaging is purposeful, the design is polished, and that you give readers compelling reasons to further engage. Check out Examples of Great Partner Pages – Content and Design to Inspire for additional guidance.
BONUS: KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO TO PROSPECTIVE PARTNERS
Just because an interested company finds your partnership program doesn’t mean you should immediately enroll them. Participants that are poorly suited for your brand, products, or audience will ultimately lead to wasted time and resources for everyone involved. Worse, they can misrepresent your company and discourage possible customers.
ALLBOUND CAN HELP WITH THE NEXT STEPS TOWARDS FINDING NEW PARTNERS
If you’re ready to create powerful lines of communication with your channel partners or learn how partner relationship management (PRM) can help you find new partners, download our eBook How to Ensure That Your Partners Will Choose You Too. With simple yet powerful PRM tools, you can learn how to make the most of channel marketing, from onboarding to pipeline management.