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Partnering with the Channel Only for Sales? You’re Doing It Wrong.
December 3, 2015
Partnering with the Channel Only for Sales? You’re Doing It Wrong.

Occasionally Allbound invites guest bloggers to contribute to our Partner Relationship Management conversation, and today’s blog post is from Brian Jambor, Director of the Certified Partner Program at Yodle.
Does the phrase “What have you done for me lately” sound familiar? Many sales executives, channel managers and even partners reference sales they brought in last month, last quarter, or last year as a reason you should provide them with preferred pricing, include them in a higher performance tier, or approve their marketing development fund (MDF) proposal.

This mentality also creeps into partner account manager (PAM) conversations where your PAMs are continually asking more out of each partner with little (sometimes no) additional investment back into the partnership. Your channel then turns from partnership to dictatorship where you’re demanding performance with little incentive outside of the margins you provide back to the channel.

In business, you should never compete on price alone. The same can be said of the channel, you should never motivate on margins alone.

Here are several ways you can partner with your channel to increase the value you mutually receive:

Content Creation

Your marketing department craves new content. Your channel wants to get in front of your customers. Have your content team create a content submission process and give your channel the opportunity to provide blog posts, ebooks, white papers, videos, and more.

Customer Retention

You likely have a retention or customer loyalty team. If they’re offering additional customer support or consulting for free to keep the customer, consider paying your channel to provide these services. You may find the channel is willing to do it more cost effectively than your internal team.

Customer Support

Consider contracting with top partners for your Tier 2/Tier 3 support. You’ll want to make sure their customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores and average speed of answer (ASA) times match or exceed your internal teams.

Platform Integrations

Do your direct sales teams have prospects in their pipeline that need your software to integrate with another platform? You could offer the integration to the channel. Make sure you use seasoned partners with a history of coming in under budget and on time. If you’re not collecting partner CSAT automatically each quarter, make sure you call a few customers the partner has recently worked with to ensure quality work.

Product Management

If you have a Partner Advisory Board, they should be meeting frequently with your product team to ensure new features line up with market fit and need. For more established channels, you can start a voice of the partner (VOP) feedback loop for product management to gain channel insights.

Culture/Leadership Development

Are your partners speakers or market influencers that understand your segment in-depth? Consider bringing them in and give them face-time with your forward facing employees. They can provide training and insight into the market as an industry expert. Pro Tip: Have the partner sponsor lunch to make it a win-win with your employees.

As you explore ways your channel can holistically help the organization achieve its goals, you may find that executive support increases as the channel becomes part of your organizations core growth strategy.

Comment below on ways you’ve given back to your channel and made them a core part of your organization.

I’m looking forward to hearing about it.

For the last five years, Brian has focused on building partner programs for SaaS companies in the small business space. Previously, Brian built and scaled Infusionsoft’s partner programs and currently he leads Yodle’s Certified Partner Program. Brian is passionate about partners, SaaS, and small business and uses his marketing and sales background to ensure partners are in a mutually beneficial relationship where both partner and vendor receive value.

Ali Spiric