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Out of countless companies, only a handful will make good partners. This section will teach you how to identify and pursue top candidates for your channel program.
The process starts with creating an Ideal Partner Profile or a list of criteria that’ll give you the most value for the effort.
This research calls for a lot of upfront planning. It’ll take time but, ultimately, the extra effort you put in will help you find success over the long-term.
Create an ideal partner profile
At a high-level, you’re looking for three things:
- Cultural fit, to determine if both companies have shared values and principles.
- Strategic fit, to determine if your strengths and weaknesses are complementary.
- Operational fit, to determine if both companies can successfully integrate their processes and systems.
More specifically, these are the variables every sales leader should consider when evaluating potential partners, especially if the goal is to secure a relationship that generates net new sales. All too often, companies are drawn into baseless arrangements, exposing themselves to unnecessary risk.
The most successful channel sales programs are established on a set of measurable criteria, including:
- Growth Rate: Favor companies that are growing at market rate or above, as this is a good measure of independence, stability, and efficacy.
- Business Size: Favor ideal-target partners, or organizations that reflect your own company’s size and scope. Then work your way up to larger, more established and resource-rich partners over time.
- Operational Style: Favor companies with cooperative leaders, individuals who demonstrate an ability — and desire — to manage the many moving parts of partnership with tact and respect.
- Sales Alignment: Favor organizations that employ sales teams comprised of net new account executives, as these people are trained to increase the volume, frequency, and average size of new opportunities.
- Financial Alignment: Favor companies that stand to make a fair amount in commission or recurring services per sale, as these teams will be the most motivated to sell on your behalf.
Build your list
Once you’ve defined your criteria, it’s time to build a list of candidates. These are companies that are a good fit based on their cultural, strategic, and operational alignment with your own organization. To research these factors:
- Use Google Alerts to keep track of candidate news.
- Use AllTop to scan relevant blogs in candidate industries.
- Use Feedly to stay in front of the most relevant candidate updates.
You can also join LinkedIn groups around a candidate’s market or business to better understand what their customers really think.
The last step is rating each candidate on a simple 1-to-10 scale, 10 being the best, like this:
In theory, the higher the score, the more ideal the partnership.
Want more information around channel partner prospecting? We’ve curated some great content on this below:
- 3 Sales Prospecting Ideas to Fill Your Channel Partner Pipeline: Keeping your pipeline filled with qualified prospects is a constant challenge. In this piece, we highlight several proven ways to drive opportunities into your partners’ funnels.
- 3 Tactics of Your Partner Sales Process That Are Supposed to Work — But Don’t: Many strategies that once moved the needle in the partner sales process have, over time, stopped working. In this piece, we identify these antiquated tactics and processes — and provide more modern alternatives.
- Partners Are Customers of Your Partner Team: Companies that are doing well actually view their partners as customers. In this piece, we discuss the concept of serving your partners rather than merely working with them.
- How to Improve Communication with Channel Partners to Skyrocket Sales: Clear, effective communication builds strong relationships and enables trust, growth, and sales. In this piece, we explain how to deliver the right message to the right place at the right time.
Stay tuned for step 2 in this 5-part series: How to Engage Your Ideal Candidates