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Boost Your Reseller Relationships:

Crafting Comprehensive Rules of Engagement

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Reseller partnerships, when executed effectively, can yield substantial benefits for your organization. By collaborating with motivated and satisfied reseller partners, you can significantly amplify your company’s sales and marketing capabilities through the resources and expertise of your partners.

However, establishing successful reseller partnerships is no simple task, and it demands attention to several critical aspects to fully harness the potential they offer. One of the most crucial elements to address is the formulation of comprehensive rules of engagement that govern your reseller program. These guidelines serve as the foundation for a transparent and effective partnership, fostering a healthy and productive relationship between both parties.

In the absence of well-defined and communicated rules of engagement, your reseller program may suffer from a myriad of issues, including confusion among team members, channel conflicts, and waning partner confidence. This could ultimately lead to disinterest in participating in your partner program and untapped growth opportunities.

In this blog post we will explain the importance of rules and engagement, discuss the advantages that arise from having a well-established framework, and provide a comprehensive guide on setting up these essential guidelines for your partner program.

Let’s begin… 

The Importance of Rules of Engagement

Before exploring the process of developing rules of engagement for your partner program, it’s essential to clarify the concept of rules of engagement. Rules of engagement are a collection of guidelines aimed at effectively managing reseller relationships. Their primary purpose is to mitigate channel conflicts and set transparent expectations that govern the operation of partners within the reseller partnership.

When properly implemented, rules of engagement can harmonize expectations within your program, providing partners with a clear understanding of their responsibilities and ensuring seamless collaboration.

In the absence of these guidelines, the reseller partnership may face challenges, including confusion, miscommunication, and channel conflict, ultimately hindering the growth and success of your partner program.

Assessing your current program

A crucial initial step in addressing rules of engagement involves evaluating the current state of your reseller partner program.

For those in the early stages of launching a partner program, establishing rules of engagement from the outset is the best approach. Taking this proactive measure ensures your program is set up for success, avoiding potential obstacles that could impede its progress from the beginning.

If you’ve already launched your reseller partner program, it’s essential to examine specific aspects to assess the overall health and effectiveness of the existing rules of engagement.

Assessing current rules

When your program is in progress, consider several indicators when evaluating the effectiveness of your current rules of engagement.

Start by examining the frequency of misunderstandings with your reseller partners. If you experience numerous issues, such as complaints, lead registration conflicts involving multiple partners, and recurring channel disputes, it indicates that your rules of engagement may be insufficient and warrant reevaluation. Conversely, if your reseller partner ecosystem is satisfied, highly engaged, and free from issues concerning partner, sales team, and customer interactions, it suggests that your rules of engagement are adequately serving your partner program. 

For those in the latter situation, continuously monitor your program for signs of discontent. Such signals typically indicate the need to reassess your rules of engagement and potentially update them based on additional feedback.

Evaluate the consequences of poor rules of engagement

The second phase of evaluating your current rules of engagement and their suitability involves assessing the programmatic consequences of having ineffective rules.The most evident consequence of poor rules of engagement is a loss in revenue or new opportunities for your company.

As we will discuss when outlining best practices for building rules of engagement, there need to be guidelines around lead registration and how leads are accepted and managed with your reseller partners. Without these established, resell partners may not know how to advance a deal, resulting in the end customer choosing a competitor’s solution or the reseller seeking alternative solutions due to a lack of engagement from your internal teams.

Another, perhaps more challenging consequence to assess is reputational damage and a loss of confidence in your reseller program. If your rules of engagement are not effective, this will lead to unhappy partners who will likely lose interest in your program and share their negative experiences with others in the industry.

This can damage your efforts to recruit additional partners into your reseller partner program.

5 things to include in your rules of engagement

So, here is the part of the blog post you have been waiting for. How do you craft a solid set of rules of engagement that will create a clear set of parameters for your partner program?

 Luckily we have pulled together the top 5 things that you need to consider when creating rules of engagement for your partner program.

Define sales territories and target markets

The first element to incorporate into your rules of engagement is a clear definition of the territories and verticals in which your partners are authorized to sell. In a reseller partner program, if your product is in high demand and popular in the market, you may have multiple partners eager to join your program. To maintain balance and fairness, it’s a good idea to assign specific regions or industries to particular reseller partners.

This approach not only prevents market saturation but also allows partners with specialized expertise in a certain area or vertical to contribute effectively to your program’s revenue generation. Moreover, it helps to avoid channel conflicts that may arise when multiple partners target the same accounts.

When developing your rules of engagement, ensure that you address this issue to minimize potential conflicts. For instance, suppose you have several reseller partners interested in selling your product in North America. In this case, you might want to divide the territory based on their expertise. You could assign one reseller partner to the Western United States, another to the Eastern United States, and a third to Canada. To further optimize your market coverage, you could even designate specific verticals within those territories. For example, one reseller partner might handle financial services in the Western United States, while another focuses on healthcare in the same region.

 By explicitly defining these territories, you prevent future issues and provide partners with a clear area for their go-to-market efforts

Detail pricing and discount policies

An additional thing outside of channel conflict which will quickly frustrate reseller partners, is a perceived notion that other resellers are getting a better deal than they are. It means that as part of your rules of engagement there needs to be a clear set of rules that determine pricing, discounts and the process for any exceptions to these rules.

Having these in black and white will not only keep your partners happy, but provide a way to resolve any issues that might crop up.

 A few things to detail when considering pricing for your resell partners include the standard pricing for your product, the discount policies that can be applied if certain volume levels are met in addition to any incentives that can be gained through registering leads. Outside of the standard pricing there will also be a need to define what happens if a resell partner wants an exception to this pricing.

Exceptions generally occur when for example a reseller is involved in a deal against your competitors and needs a discount in order to match or beat their pricing.

 In these scenarios, there should be a set of guidelines established that requires the partner to contact you, and have you grant approval prior to presenting this differing pricing. Having these clearly defined will not only ensure that your program is run fairly, but also remove any confusion from your resell partners.

Set up channels of communication

Communication is key in effective reseller relationships. It is so important that it should be explicitly considered when creating  your rules of engagement. Specifically, you should determine how escalations should be handled when partners have pressing concerns around customers or even product support.

 By creating definitive rules around how certain things should be handled it provides a clear way for partners to work with you to deal with issues that otherwise might cause frustrations and poor experiences for both the partner and the end customer. The rules that you create around communication should be specific including what channels should be used (phone, email, slack etc), to communicate, in addition to determining how quickly partners should expect you to respond.

It’s imperative to have this level of specificity to again provide clarity and avoid any confusion. 

Clarifying marketing and support resourcing

The most effective resell programs are the ones where partners are supported by you and your team. When crafting your rules of engagement, also be sure to include the ways in which you will support your reseller partners from both a marketing and a technical support perspective.

 Firstly when thinking through co-marketing, you need to establish the process for things like claiming market development dollars, and how resell partners can get support from your marketing teams for demand generation activities. Some of the things that you should include in your rules of engagement are specifics on where they can find resources to assist in marketing efforts, such as slide decks, battle cards and product positioning documentation.

On the support side of things there should be clear guidelines on how to loop in your technical support teams to not only assist on net new deals but also once a product is purchased what the process is if issues were to occur. Included in your rules of engagement should be specific reference to the types of resources that are available to your partners such as demo environments of your products, sales engineers to help them on demos and technical documentation to help them in the sales process.

 By inserting specifics on both of these core things, partners will know the level of support offered, and how to access this information, resulting in more successful and efficient reseller partnerships.

Define how to work with your direct sales team

It’s not applicable to all resell partner programs, however, in many reseller programs, your resell partners may also have to work with your direct sales teams on certain deals. There may be instances whereby your direct sales team and your resell partners are prospecting into similar accounts, and so you need to be able to define what happens in scenarios where both teams are working the same deal.

 A good way to do this is to set up rules around who gets priority on deals. For example, you may set up a rule whereby whoever is first to register the deal gets to work it. This means that if your direct sales team is already engaged in an account and far along in the deal process, if your resell partners register it, you may have to preclude them from selling into that account.

Implementing and Communicating Rules of Engagement

Following the above, you should have the critical components of your rules of engagement figured out. Now you need to ensure that your reseller partners are aware of them, and understand all the components that we detailed above.

In order to roll out your new rules of engagement across your reseller partner program, it is a good idea to build your rules of engagement into a formalized document. This document should then be signed by all resell partners as a requirement for remaining part of your partner program.

By getting official sign off by partners it not only requires them to read and understand the parameters of your program, but also provides something to enforce the partnership with if issues were to arise further down the line.

When using a PRM such as Allbound, you are able to upload documentation into a content library, which means you can add your rules of engagement documentation into your partner portal, and have them read through it in one centralized place. Once your formalized document has been signed, another step is to book an onboarding tool with your partner counterpart and any other important team members to run them through the new rules.

This acts as an additional step to help resellers understand the new parameters and prevent any confusion that may occur.

Evaluate and Iterate

Crafting effective rules of engagement is not a one-time task, but rather an ongoing process that requires constant evaluation and iteration. It’s essential to create regular feedback loops to gather input from your reseller partners and be flexible enough to regularly change and update the rules to ensure that you have the best program possible for your partners.

Creating a culture of transparency and openness is crucial in building trust with your partners. When they see that their feedback is taken seriously and that changes are made based on their input, they will be more likely to work with you to improve your partner program. By implementing regular check-ins and evaluations, you can identify areas for improvement and make adjustments to better support your partners. This not only helps to maintain strong relationships with your existing partners but also makes your program more attractive to potential new partners.

 Ultimately, a successful reseller partner program is one that is adaptable and responsive to the needs and feedback of its partners. Regularly updating and refining your rules of engagement is key to achieving this.


In conclusion, creating and implementing comprehensive rules of engagement is an essential task for any organization looking to establish successful reseller partnerships. Clear guidelines ensure that partners understand their responsibilities, minimize channel conflicts, and harmonize expectations, ultimately leading to productive and healthy relationships between both parties. 

In this blog post we have reviewed the core components that are needed in effective rules of engagement including defining sales territories and target markets, detailing pricing and discount policies, setting up channels of communication, and defining how to work with your direct sales team.

By following the outline we have provided in this blog post, you should be able to start today in implementing a solid set of rules to govern your resell partnership program and ultimately drive more success through your program.

 In order to make your rules of engagement far easier to track and manage, you should consider a PRM like Allbound. With Allbound, you can manage your reseller partners in one intuitive platform that will allow you to handle things like lead registration, commission payouts and more, all of which form a core part of your rules of engagement.

To see how Allbound can help, book a demo, and to learn more about partnerships read more in the Allbound blog or tune into our Channel Partner podcast.

Ali Spiric

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