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14 Tips to Find and Recruit Channel Partners

If you’re running a channel sales operation, you know that finding the right partners is crucial. Check out our 14 tips to find and recruit channel partners below. Plus, complete the form to download our Free Partner Pitch Deck Template.
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1. Define your channel partner program before starting recruiting DEFINE YOUR CHANNEL PARTNER PROGRAM BEFORE STARTING RECRUITING

Currently, 60 percent of channel partners report needing better systems and processes to ensure quality, which means you need to have a solid recruitment plan in place. If you’re ready to attract more of the best, most productive partners out there, then it’s time to figure out how you can find and recruit channel partners with whom you can build mutually beneficial relationships.

Here are 14 ways to find and recruit the best channel partners:

1. DEFINE YOUR CHANNEL PARTNER PROGRAM BEFORE STARTING RECRUITING

A strong product won’t be enough to convince other companies to promote it on your behalf. You need to have a comprehensive channel program and strategies on how to convey its unique selling points to newly found prospective partners. Collaborate with your internal marketing team to finesse promotional messaging, particularly on your company’s webpage.

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What’s more, you need to anticipate candidates’ questions and have answers ready. Make sure you can confidently address:

  • What is your commission structure?
  • Does your partner program offer growth opportunities for greater revenue share?
  • Are there additional perks partners can expect outside of revenue?
  • What does the onboarding process look like?
  • What is the estimated time commitment you expect from program participants, especially in regards to onboarding?
  • In what ways can you help promote your partners, and is that available to everyone or a select group?

To further elevate your partner recruitment strategy, prepare materials that acknowledge these points.

If you remain ambiguous about any of the above, you’re simply not ready to actively find and recruit new channel partners. After all, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression!  

2. Research Competitor Partner Programs

When finding potential partners for your channel program, it’s worth taking a look at your competitors’ partner directories.

Although your initial thought might be that if they partner with your competition, they won’t partner with you, the opposite can actually be true.

Your competitors’ partner programs typically feature companies, consultants, and solutions providers that want to offer the best solutions to their customers. By targeting these companies, you may find that you have something unique to offer that your competitors don’t, making you a perfect fit for a subsection of their customers.

Additionally, by recruiting companies that your competitors already partner with, you can be confident that these prospects are open and receptive to partnership opportunities, and already understand how to collaborate effectively.

Even if you don’t target specific partners of your competitors, their directories can give you an idea of the types of partners you should be recruiting.After all, if your competitor sells to a similar ICP as you, the partners they feature are likely the same types of partners you should try to find.

In short, analyzing your competitors’ partner directories can help you better understand the types of partners you should be actively recruiting for your program.


3. Don't forget your recruitment messaging exclusively on the money

Business is business. However, you can’t underestimate the human element that underlines many financial decisions. Present your brand as friendly, creative, open-minded, trustworthy, and respectful. Ideally, partners should be excited to collaborate with your team and form a working relationship.

There are numerous ways you can convey this throughout your partner recruitment conversations and content. Perhaps emphasize the regular one-on-one communication in which you ask for feedback and share performance reports. Or why not discuss opportunities to co-market joint initiatives offered to high-achievers? A quality PRM expresses elevated sophistication that will prove attractive to partners.  

4. Identify and cater to your potential partners

To find the best channel partners, you need to implement the fundamentals of inbound marketing. Ask yourself who your ideal partner is and develop a persona—a fictional, generalized character that represents the various needs, goals, and behavior patterns among your real and potential partners.

By creating a persona for your ideal partner, you can begin to craft relevant, useful content such as blog posts, white papers, press releases, and newsletters. It helps to be able to ask yourself “Would VP of Marketing, Sally care about this content? Would this content help her be more efficient in her current role?” By identifying which content types and topics are relevant to your persona, you can easily begin pulling potential partners into the funnel and understanding which partners are a good fit. 96 percent of B2B buyers want content from industry thought leaders, so building a robust, diverse content library can position your company as an industry expert and help you recruit the partners best positioned to connect with prospective customers.

For inspiration, look no further than Databox. Their CEO and former HubSpot VP of Sales Pete Caputa describes what happened when HubSpot was preparing to launch a partner program: “From day one, we started hosting a lot of educational webinars. … When they were over, I just sat back and watched the interest in our program fly in.” Hubspot was able to identify their key personas, give them content that was relevant, and successfully find more channel partners.


5. Know your partners' target customers

Even channel partners with the most potential might not be the right fit if your product doesn’t appeal to their core customer base. Newly recruited channel partners need to know that working with your company will establish a mutually beneficial and profitable relationship, which means you need to know who their customers are and whether a partnership makes sense. Otherwise, marketing to their business connections will be next to impossible.

6. Build your presence on publications and channels with which your ideal partners regularly interact

Prior to this step, you laid the groundwork for your program and crafted messaging designed to address candidates’ main priorities. Now is the time to shine a spotlight on your brand and channel offering!

Identify which social media channels your ideal partners are likely to utilize and nurture a presence through regular engagement. This strategy doesn’t only pertain to your company’s social profiles, but your leadership’s as well. The goal is to start dialogues, build perceived authority, and slowly cultivate relationships. Don’t make the mistake of using social media solely to promote yourself and channel program.

Take your promotion one step further by considering what publications your ideal candidates trust. Guest podcasting or contributing an article to strategically chosen outlets can significantly boost brand awareness amongst targeted decision-makers.

Similar to the above, don’t shy away from establishing an industry presence through networking. Whether you are the star speaker at an event, operate a booth at a conference, or shake hands at a happy hour, each interaction puts a memorable face to a company name.

Your efforts to foster industry connections should lead to more prospective partners finding you rather than vice versa. Plus, when you do want to advertise your partner program, candidates should be much more receptive to your recruitment efforts.

Additional tips

7. CREATE “FOMO” BY PROMOTING EXISTING PARTNERS AND CASE STUDIES

We’ve all heard the phrase “show, don’t tell.” Take this idiom to heart by promoting partners on your website, co-branding joint materials, and celebrating their successes on social media. Most importantly? Case studies!

Such strategies bring attention to your channel and demonstrate to others the types of rewards that they could enjoy. Additionally, they keep current partners engaged.

8. REVIEW HISTORICAL SUPPORT TICKETS TO FIND CANDIDATES

When building a partner program for a new company, there are likely signs and indicators that a partner would program would be a good fit for a business. Therefore, another effective tactic for finding channel partners is to review your customer support ticketing software to see if there have been any inbound requests for partnerships prior to your arrival.

To do this, simply navigate to your preferred support tool, search for the term “partnership” in the main search bar, and any prior incoming requests from people interested in partnership should appear.

These inbound requests are an easy opportunity, and now that you have a comprehensive program, it should be straightforward to recruit these potential partners.

9. CONTINUALLY ASSESS YOUR PARTNER RECRUITMENT FUNNEL TO FIND IMPROVEMENTS

Not every conversation you have with a prospect will ultimately lead to a new partner. However, even the ones that don’t work out will bring value if you learn from them. If a company ultimately declines to join, politely ask for feedback. You may start to discern similarities between different individuals’ answers or the point in which they choose to disengage.

Is your revenue share not competitive enough? Are informative materials failing to resonate with the readers? Such insights can go a long way to improving the effectiveness of your partner recruitment tactics.

10. SPOTLIGHT YOUR PRM AS PART OF YOUR PARTNER RECRUITMENT CONVERSATIONS

Partners naturally seek assurance of smooth operations, battle-tested strategies, and your overall dedication to their success. After all, a partner program that runs like a well-oiled machine fueled by new sales content and marketing will make it easier for them to sell products.

Set up recently recruited candidates with their own prospect pages within your PRM so they can witness first-hand the enticing new customer experience. Share with them a sneak peek of your content library in which they can view its robustness and ease of use.

Your willingness to invest in technology demonstrates professionalism and commitment to their long-term success.

11. DEDICATE TIMES TOWARDS A WELL-DESIGNED PARTNER PAGE

Don’t de-value your partner page, as this is content all prospects will read sooner or later. Make sure your messaging is purposeful, the design is polished, and that you give readers compelling reasons to further engage. Check out Examples of Great Partner Pages – Content and Design to Inspire for additional guidance.

12. SEARCH INSIDE YOUR OWN CRM FOR PROSPECTIVE PARTNERS TO RECRUIT

One strategy to find and recruit new channel partners is to search within your CRM.

You may discover that agencies and consultants already use your software on behalf of your customers, and conducting a sweep of your CRM could help you identify these hidden partners for easy recruitment.

One tip? When searching your CRM, pay attention to email addresses that are different from the customer’s domain.

For instance, if your customer is “Acme Corp” and all their users have email addresses with the domain acmecorp.com, but you notice a user with the email address consultant.com, this could indicate the presence of a third party within the instance.

Having consultants who already manage your software for clients is a good sign that they are familiar with your solution and service your ICP, making them potentially great partners for you.

13. RUN ABM CAMPAIGNS

If you’re looking to recruit top-tier partners, using account-based marketing (ABM) to target them can be an effective strategy. Traditional techniques like LinkedIn messaging may not be effective, especially for larger partners.

ABM is a marketing strategy that uses highly personalized campaigns directed at a specific target account. By using ABM for channel partner recruitment, you can identify a top-tier partner you want to recruit and create a specific piece of content, such as a customized PDF that highlights the benefits of joining your partnership program.

Implementing creative marketing strategies can be just as effective for recruiting partners as it is for acquiring new customers. Using ABM tactics can be a great strategy to adopt when recruiting new partners.

14. USE SELLING SOCIAL TECHNIQUES

The way people buy software is changing, and they now prefer to buy from people rather than through advertisements or cold emails. This is why social selling can be a powerful technique for channel partner recruitment.

According to LinkedIn, social selling is a “strategic method for sellers to connect and build relationships with prospects through social networks.” This technique can also be useful for recruiting new channel partners.

Through social selling, you can start building relationships with target partners by connecting with them on platforms like LinkedIn, regularly commenting on their posts, and getting on their radar through the content you post.

While social selling may be a slower technique, it can be effective as it focuses on providing value, such as providing good content to a target partner or commenting on their posts. This creates a sort of social contract where they may feel like they owe you one, and thus makes it easy eventually to talk about a potential partnership.

BONUS: KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO TO PROSPECTIVE PARTNERS

Just because an interested company finds your partnership program doesn’t mean you should immediately enroll them. Participants that are poorly suited for your brand, products, or audience will ultimately lead to wasted time and resources for everyone involved. Worse, they can misrepresent your company and discourage possible customers.

ALLBOUND CAN HELP WITH THE NEXT STEPS TOWARD FINDING NEW PARTNERS

If you’re ready to create powerful lines of communication with your channel partners or learn how partner relationship management (PRM) can help you find new partners, download our eBook How to Ensure That Your Partners Will Choose You Too.

Additional reading that can help you strategize on how to best grow and engage your partnership network include:

  • How to Build a Channel Partner Program – While recruiting channel partners is essential to your success, it isn’t the only foundational component of a burgeoning program. Use this guide to ensure you have the essential elements in place to support future growth. \
  • Channel Partner Welcome Kit – You successfully found the right channel partners, so now what? Start the relationship off on a high note by utilizing this welcome kit to inspire your own.

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