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Channel Sales Business Plan and Proposal – Guidelines and Tips
You’ve likely heard of, and maybe even developed, a business plan in the past. Similar to a standard business plan, a channel sales business plan explores the goals, intended strategies, associated costs, and other essential elements of a new project. Channel professionals can use this plan to communicate intentions for your program and get buy-in from leadership.

This article will explore the key components of a channel sales business plan and proposal, digging into tips and best practices for each element.

When Should You Create a Channel Sales Business Plan?

A channel sales business plan is essential for gaining buy-in from your leadership team and the rest of your organization. Therefore, it’s essential to develop one when you’re first starting your partnerships program. This helps leadership understand your goals and the resources you’ll need to achieve them.

Similarly, a channel partner business plan can be effective for getting buy-in when you’re considering implementing a new strategy. This could involve first involving integration partners, beginning a new co-marketing campaign, or engaging ISVs.

Finally, once you have a program up and running, it makes sense to revisit your channel partner business plan every few years to ensure your goals and initiatives are up-to-date. Essentially, this can give you some goalposts to shoot for.

What Are the Essential Elements of a Channel Partner Business Plan?

As you develop your channel partner business plan or proposal, there are the key sections you’ll want to include. Depending on your reasoning for developing this plan, you may leave out a few of these sections or focus on one area more. The below descriptions are designed to serve as a guide for what to include when building out your channel partner business plan.

Essential Elements of a Channel Partner Business Plan

Initial Market Analysis

Your initial market analysis section should set the tone for your business plan by painting a picture for whoever is reading. Describe the relevant business landscape right now that makes your partner program make sense.

Explore recent business activities and industry trends that support your efforts. This is an important place to include statistics and studies as well as anticipated upcoming trends. In addition, this section should briefly discuss the profile of your ideal partners as well as the customers you’ll serve through these partnerships.

Operational and Management Strategies 

In this section, you’ll dig into your team and resource needs for accomplishing the plan. It’s essential to include this early on as it’s a vital part of the “ask” involved in a channel partner business proposal. Highlight any new hires, such as a designated CAM to grow the channel

Specify what involvement you will need from other teams, such as new resource development from Marketing or prospecting calls from Sales. This section should also dig into different resources you anticipate using, such as PRM software to streamline and scale management demands as the channel grows. 

Goals & Objectives

This section is all about what you’re hoping to achieve. First, describe the KPIs and OKRs associated with your program. These should be specific and realistic enough to attain. Don’t include stretch goals just to impress your leadership team — focus on achievable milestones that future efforts will build on.

Ladder the program’s goals to broader sales initiatives to demonstrate how partners can effectively help the company enter new markets, promote new products, and more. This is an important strategy for ensuring cross-functional buy-in and improving collaboration as each team will know exactly how they’re contributing to broader company objectives.

5-year Projections

Explore what the next five years of the program will look like. The early stages should be more specific, with the latter stages having broader goals. Your projections should include potential team growth, resource requirements, needs from other functional areas, and anticipated ecosystem growth.

Creating a channel sales business plan

Competitive Analysis

Building on your initial market analysis, conduct a competitive analysis to explore what others in the industry are doing now. Use a SWOT analysis to dissect others’ strategies and highlight your opportunities and any threats you may face.

Financial Projections

What will it cost to get your program up and running? What resources will your organization need to invest in? How will you structure commissions for partners and sales reps? Explore all the financial aspects of your program, including how you anticipate it will make money for your organization and the costs associated with doing so.

When Should You Revisit Your Plan?

It’s a good idea to revisit your plan annually. This is a great time to review your actual progress compared to your projections and update your goals, financial forecasts, and 5-year plans accordingly. 

The market and competitive landscape will likely shift over time, so this provides an ideal opportunity to revisit those and adjust your plan as needed.

Craft a Channel Sales Business Plan That Gets Your Team’s Buy-in

Whether you’re looking to start a channel sales program, expand your ecosystem, or shift your channel’s focus, creating a channel sales business plan is a strong way to communicate your objectives and gain team buy-in. By including your goals, financial projections, and industry research, you’ll demonstrate the benefit of a channel program and communicate your needs from other departments.

Compiling a channel sales business proposal is also a great way to ensure you’ve done all necessary research and are prepared with the information you need to begin a successful program once you gain approval.

Want more helpful resources for growing your channel sales program effectively? Subscribe to the Allbound newsletter for guides on topics like managing channel partners remotely, developing a partner scorecard, and expanding your ecosystem globally. 

Ali Spiric