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S3E22: How to Tier Reseller Partners for Maximum Efficiency

Show Synopsis

On this episode of the Partner Channel Podcast, host Tori Barlow is joined by Julie Koslen Diehl, Director of Global Partnership Operations for insightsoftware. Together, the two are talking tiering resellers to really make a difference.


  • How to incentivize across tiers
  • What to do to motivate partners to improve YoY
  • How to get the most out of your partners

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The Script

Welcome to the Partner Channel podcast, the podcast for partnerships. In our episodes, we discuss ways to power your programs and gain actionable insights for all company sizes and partner types. We sit down with industry thought leaders to get the best tips and tricks for you, the listeners, to achieve your channel goals.

Tori Barlow: Welcome to the Partner Channel podcast, The Voice of the Channel. I’m Tori Barlow, VP of Marketing at Allbound. Excited to be here with Julie Koslen Diehl, Director of Global Partner Operations at insightsoftware. Welcome, Julie. I’m so excited to chat with you today.

Julie Koslen Diehl: Thanks for having me.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, you’re a beloved customer, I will say that. And you also well, insightsoftware also recently won the Dresner Technology Innovation Award for Financial Consolidation, close management and Reporting. So kudos to you guys, or you’re busy over there.

Julie Koslen Diehl: Yes, we are. Thank you.

Tori Barlow: Yeah. And getting right into it today we are all about resellers and everything about getting the most out of your partner program from the reseller partner type specifically. I know a lot of listeners, a lot of partner programs have a reseller motion. It’s very prevalent and a great asset to any team. But getting started with that, can you give us a background about the reseller motion from the Insight software side?

Julie Koslen Diehl: Yeah. So we have different partner types, we have strategic partners, we have ERP partners, and we have reseller partners. The reseller partner group for us is the largest group of partners that we have and really that’s defined by what the revenue share looks like. So those are partners. We define those as partners who essentially buy from us at a discount and sell at a markup. Yeah. Yeah. And those have. Oh, sorry.

Tori Barlow: Go ahead.

Julie Koslen Diehl: Those have come from acquisition and from just from different products that we have too. So they’re kind of we continue to grow our channel partners in that way as we acquire new companies and new products, too.

Tori Barlow: Okay. And can you give some insight into insightsoftware’s just overall partner program size and kind of where the partner program sits and the go to market function?

Julie Koslen Diehl: Yeah. So really when we talk about the partner program, the really the tier model, we’re in the process of launching a new partner tier program and that is exclusively for our reseller partners. And we’re moving from a two tier model that we’re moving to a new four tier model starting in Q3 of this year.

Tori Barlow: Brilliant. So I think when we think about why you’re here today and I think where our audience can really glean insight from you. You guys have had a partner program for a while. It’s pretty sophisticated. But you’re you’ve recently noticed a few things to tweak and optimize and really taking your reseller motion to the next level. I think that’s where a lot of folks are right now in the market, especially given the importance of partner programs that help with all, you know, departments, new logo churn, whatever it is, resellers have a large piece of that. So how do you really get the most out of the reseller motion? And can you talk a little bit about why you guys are restructuring this program this year?

Julie Koslen Diehl: Yeah, it really came down to two things. One is that, again, because we’re growing so much by acquisition, we had sort of pockets of partners that were in a program, and partners are pockets of partners. It’s hard to say fast that we’re not in a program or at least not in the same program. So we really needed to get everybody on the same page globally, everything that is sold through this specific channel. So we started looking at our existing model and realized that, you know, what part of the initiative we have right now is really to get channel partners selling more than one product. We have so many different products. They work so well together, but there’s not really in the two tier model that we have today, there wasn’t really any built in incentive to do that, right? They’re getting their discount regardless of what they’re selling potentially. So what we did is we looked at this and we came up with the fact that we really need a high tier that is going to reward those partners who are selling more than one product. And we need to build in that incentive for partners to do that in a way that it doesn’t exist today. So we went from two tiers to four tiers so that this top tier really is kind of an exclusive group of really high achieving partners. They need to hit sales minimums and some different kind of training and and. Um, engagement metrics with us. But then also they need to show that they’ve sold more than one product to end customers within the given time frame. The rest, the other tiers are kind of a little bit more traditional. Um, they may be selling more than one product, but if they don’t have the revenue goals, they still would be in those lower tiers too. 

But that really was one of the game changers for us, is that we just needed a cohesive model across the board. And also we needed to figure out ways to get partners kind of rewarded and motivated for that behavior that we wanted to see.

Tori Barlow: If people are thinking about restructuring any type of partner program within their organization. They have, you know, a handful of partners or even more than that. How do you like what did you do or what are you planning on doing for the partners that have already been at that quote unquote, top tier that now have to go to Tier two, Tier three? Are you how do you give that message to them? Do you have incentives around that? Because I could imagine from the partner side that could be a little hard or discouraging. How are you kind of handling that?

Julie Koslen Diehl: Yeah, So we really we took all the data and we really looked specifically at data from the last three years and tried to model this out. We wanted to make sure that we could afford to do whatever we want to do right, whatever we’re thinking we wanted to do. And then also kind of looking at what that means for partners. So unfortunately, it does mean that we’ve got partners today at our top tier who are not performing and will not remain at that top tier. And that is going to be a difficult potential conversation for some of the account reps. We’ve done a couple things. There is one product that is kind of a legacy product for us and didn’t necessarily because of the price point it’s at, didn’t necessarily work as well towards the sales goals. So we did work in a unit count, which is again kind of a legacy that we’ve had before. So it helps level the playing field a little bit from product to product. So that is one thing that we did to kind of help. Ensure that partners who are supposed to be at the right levels are remaining at the right levels. But the other thing, quite honestly, that it did is it kind of adjusted our focus and we said, look, these partners who some of these partners who have been at the top tier are not performing in such a way that they should remain there.

Julie Koslen Diehl: So let’s change our focus account manager. Maybe let’s not focus on them as much and focus instead on some of these players who are performing a little bit higher and try to concentrate on getting them up to the next tier. So one of the ways one of the communication pieces we have is that this new top, top tier that we have for cross-selling, high achieving partners, it is a higher discount than anybody has today. So that’s part of the incentive. Like if we can get you there, it’s going to be different and better than where you’re at today and some of the others who maybe aren’t performing but maybe did in the past. That’s a conversation for our account managers to have, too, that says, look, you know, I see that you did X, Y and Z a couple of years ago, but we didn’t see it last year. How can we get you to the next level?

Tori Barlow: Yeah, no, I think that’s I think that’s so important. And for any strategic move, there’s always going to be some sort of, you know, change management in a sense where it’s a different strategy. But at the end of the day, you’re kind of like cleaning out the bucket and looking at quality over over quantity at that point and and honing in. And I think obviously it takes time, but focusing effort on the partners that actually, you know, create the the higher tier sales for you with the multiple products is is definitely where you’d want to put your eggs. One thing that you mentioned when we spoke earlier was around visibility for partners and I know this is a common you know I’ll use nightmare but I guess nightmare for partners that you know spend all this time prospecting and then, you know, selling, reselling, whatever it may be. But they have no idea where they are within the pipeline, where they are with you, their arms. How have you enabled visibility to your partners? And also, why is it so important?

Julie Koslen Diehl: Yeah, that was one of the key pieces too, that we talked about. We had again, we had a program before we tried to kind of simplify that down. And I’m a huge believer in metrics, but you really you can’t create metrics on anything you can’t measure, right? So we try to simplify it down the program. So there weren’t too many things or too broad scale, broad brush that we couldn’t measure or didn’t feel confident in the data that we had to measure. So what that means is we did we skinny down the requirements, we made it a lot more kind of easy to digest, I hope. And the other thing we’re doing is we’re adding some transparency that doesn’t exist today. So today account managers can go into Salesforce, they can pull data. We have some dashboards that are available, but partners can’t see that. So with the launch in Q3, what we’re rolling out is and it’s really pretty simple, but just progress bars in our partner portal so that partners can see where they are. So if they are a mid tier partner at this level, they’ll be able to see what the minimum sales goal is for that level and where their sales are falling towards that goal. So they’ll be able to see how far they are towards that goal to get them to the next level. And then same is true for some of our other requirements. So there’s a certain amount of training for training for reps. There’s the there’s the sales. And then there’s a couple other kind of like participation and kind of engagement criteria that the account managers will have a little bit of a control over. 

So we’re making sure that partners are participating in things like ours and that they have the right contracts on file and things like that. So some kind of very clear, very measurable tasks and then we’re adding that visibility so that account managers have it, marketing has it, sales has it as well as partners.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, everyone’s aligned throughout the organization. I think that’s key. And are you looking at certain, you know, other criteria within the portal or really just having it as like a home base for the partners? Like what’s the goal of having Allbound or a partner portal?

Julie Koslen Diehl: Um, I mean, the partner portal. That is what we use today to share information with our partners or just to kind of be the single source of where they should find any information that we have to share with them. And then we’re putting those metrics on there, too, just again, so that everybody is looking in the same place at the same reports, at the same output, and everybody is on the same page towards the partner program to answer that question.

Tori Barlow: Totally. Yeah. Makes sense. It’s like a house for your for your partners to find everything they want, basically. Um, so let’s look into the future a bit. You’re going to relaunch in Q3. We’ll give Q3 and Q4 some time to ramp. Let’s look at 2024. You know, what is a successful partner program look like in this sense from a reseller motion? And how are you getting the most out of your partners?

Julie Koslen Diehl: Yeah. Think what we want to see is that we’ve reallocated partners and we’re seeing basically kind of we’re not increasing a ton of our spend for the partner program. That’s key for, for me a metric for me. But then we also want to see that having this data is allowing the account managers to really kind of focus in the right places with the right partners. 

And we’ll look at metrics about how partners performed last year versus this year and what kind of movement we see between tiers, because partners are going to be allowed to move up tiers really at any point during the year.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. Good vision. And last question. You know, from what you’ve talked to us about today is really honing in and focusing on on the data and what really is driving true success. And what advice would you give someone if they’re just starting their reseller program or rethinking of how do you squeeze the most out of the reseller program? Is it this strategy like really start with just the focus areas or start big and then get small? What would you recommend there?

Julie Koslen Diehl: I mean, I think it’s always easier to start bigger and get smaller. It’s always easier to cut things out and try to add things in. But I think that we really had to kind of balance what our account managers wanted to see with what we could truly measure. I mean, there were things that were thrown out. Or initially on our list that we ultimately decided we weren’t confident in that measurement or we weren’t confident in the data or we just we weren’t quite there yet or it was super complicated. And I just think people lose interest, I think internally and with partners, if it’s too hard, people aren’t going to do it. So we’re really kind of need to get to what is it we really want to see and are willing to measure and report on and try to keep it as simple as possible. I can’t say that it’s, you know, ultimately like always, super easy and straightforward. But we did balance a number of different kind of ways of doing this and try to try to simplify where we could.

Tori Barlow: Yeah. Well, you guys have all heard it here from Julie successful partner program, but also reseller program. Thank you to our guest, Julie Koslen Diehl, director of global partner operations at insightsoftware. And thank you to you, the listeners.

That’s all for this episode. We’d like to thank you for taking the time to listen in. If you like what you heard, we’d love the chance to take the talk to LinkedIn and continue the conversation. If you want to stay up to date with all of our new episodes, subscribe to our series wherever you like to listen to podcasts.

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