Sue Fernand, VP of Channel Sales at Cirrus Insight joins me, Jen Spencer to discuss how smaller businesses can scale quickly and effectively with both the right channel partners and the right tools on this episode of The Allbound Podcast.
Where do you think the software industry has the greatest opportunity, specifically when it comes to the channel?
I think the greatest opportunity is really for growth. A lot of small startups don’t have the scale out the gate. So trying to get the word out on your own about what your product does or getting in front of potential customers that would be a good fit, it’s oftentimes challenging, and you can spend a lot of money doing events and, you know, you might blow through any sort of budget that you have. But if you can get a really strong partner ecosystem that knows your product, sees the value in it, sees the value for their clients, I think that’s a really great way to scale.
A lot of these companies that you would sign up to be a partner, they have clients already who could use your product, which is really a great place to start. It’s one of the things I always do when I bring on a new partner. I’ll say, “Let’s get some webinars or events set up with your existing clients. Let’s get in front of those clients.” I think it’s always easier for customers to sell to their existing customers, right? So it’s a really great way to kick off the relationship and it’s a great way to have some initial wins.
A recent Cirrus Insight article revealed that only 50% of businesses survive 5 years or more and only a third make it to a full 10+ years. What do you think a business needs for its channel to create a path that will lead to that 10 year mark?
I think small businesses, in general, sometimes try to do a lot of things manually to maybe cut some corners and save some money, but I really think that’s where you fail because you’re not getting any of the tracking data, so how do you even figure out what’s working or what’s not working? And I think when you’re managing a channel, you have to have a really good system in place of how that’s going to work from beginning to end. First of all, you’ll probably have one or two people managing an ecosystem of partners, so you need to have some automation. And you absolutely want to track the data, track performance, so that you really can figure out where your efforts are best served, and which partners are bringing you the most leads. I think it’s really important to invest in sales or partner enablement software because while there’s a definite investment upfront, it’s definitely going to pay off.
Do you have an effective recruiting tool or a strategy that you’ve used to really help gain meaningful partnerships?
I really like to take a look at people’s websites and see what kind of work they’ve done, what kind of content they’re putting up. I like to see people that are thought leaders, because then I know that they’re going to get the ROI and the story that we’re going to bring to the client. So I like to do a little bit of investigation, not just knowing, “Hey, this is a big partner, this is a successful partner,” but let’s see what kinds of clients they have, what’s on their website, what’s on their blog, what are they putting out there, what’s important to them.
To learn more about scaling a small business with a partner channel, tune in to episode 38 of The Allbound Podcast.
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Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes. Also available through Google Play. The Allbound Podcast explores the evolving fundamentals of partner-based selling in the SaaS and subscription economy. Featuring some of the industry’s brightest minds in channel sales and marketing, episodes of The Allbound Podcast delve into how and why indirect sales and marketing has long been, and continues to be, a proven medium for accelerating growth and success. And how traditional “channel” models are being transformed into efficient, connected ecosystems to supercharge sales and drive customer success while keeping costs low. Subscribe on iTunes