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Mastering Resell Partnerships: The Ultimate Guide

In this blog, we will provide a comprehensive guide on what it takes to build a successful reseller program, including how to recruit your first reseller partner, what components make up a successful reseller program in addition to best practices when it comes to managing your resell partners.
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What is a resell partner?

We are in the era of the ecosystem, where many companies are starting to focus on their go to market strategy around partnerships. One of the main components of a successful partnership program is the recruitment of relevant partners to your program. A common, and popular partner type that is a mainstay of many partner programs is the resell partner. By partnering with resellers, companies are able to leverage the resources and strengths of these companies to expand their market reach and grow their overall revenue.

If you’re new to the world of resellers, it’s essential to begin by understanding the concept of a resell partner and the different types that exist in the market.

A resell partner, as defined by Tech Target, is: “A type of channel partner that acts as an intermediary between companies that make, distribute or provide IT products or services to end users.”

Resell partners usually negotiate a wholesale rate for software or services, which allows them to add a margin and generate profit when reselling to their customers.

Although there are many “pure” resell partners that currently exist there has been a shift in the industry recently from resellers looking to go to market with more comprehensive solutions tha\t ultimately deliver them more revenue.

There are two main types of “modern” resellers that are worth mentioning.

The first is the Managed Service Provider or MSP, which is a type of reseller partner that focuses on offering subscription-based services to companies, typically on a monthly basis. Their primary objective is to increase their Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) by providing continuous support, maintenance, and management of IT services to their clients.

On the other hand, Value-Added Resellers (VARs) primarily resell software but add value to their offerings by bundling additional services or solutions. These services may include installation, configuration, customization, or consulting, and are often delivered in a project-based model or strategy.

By understanding what a resell partner is, and the “flavors” of reseller partner that exist, you will be able to identify and evaluate the right partners for your resell partner program.

Why start a reseller partner program?

With a variety of partner types available, why should you consider creating a reseller partner program? There are several compelling reasons that make reseller partnerships an attractive option for businesses looking to grow. Firstly, a reseller partner program enables you to expand your market reach significantly. As Gwenn Lazar, VP of Partnerships at Skillsoft reinforces this point by saying “Partners can be a force multiplier to scale growth." Partners can be a force multiplier to scale growth.

By collaborating with reseller partners, you can access new markets and customer segments that might otherwise be challenging or impossible to enter.

Partnering with established resellers allows you to not only benefit from their strong brand reputation but also tap into their extensive customer network, further extending your reach.

Another substantial advantage is the ability to leverage the reseller partner’s marketing and sales teams.

Expanding your business into new markets or territories typically requires significant investment in staffing resources. Reseller partnerships allow you to depend on your partners’ existing teams to sell your services and utilize their marketing resources to generate demand, reducing the need for substantial investments in manpower.

To explain the force multiplier that resller partners can bring to your business, a diagram is helpful.

In the diagram below, you can see the makeup of a typical sales organization, that includes a direct sales and marketing team, that generate demand and lead to revenue for the business.

Compare this to an organization that has a fully built out reseller partner program.

As you can see, by signing up resell partners, you are also signing up additional sales and marketing resources that give you a better chance of reaching your end customers.

The final way that reseller partners can enhance your partner program by contributing their specialized expertise to your overall offering.

Resell partners often possess intimate knowledge of their customers and markets, allowing them to effectively tailor and position your solutions to meet customer needs. This increased likelihood of success in selling to their customers can lead to higher sales and customer satisfaction.

By creating a robust reseller program, you are able to build external sales teams that can expand your overall reach, and also increase your overall revenue.


Key parts of a reseller partner program

By now, you understand the concept of a reseller and the overall benefits they can bring to your partner program. So, what are the essential steps you need to take to establish a successful reseller partner program?

Luckily, we’ve got you covered…

Resell Partner Recruitment

You’ve made the decision to build a reseller partner program, and now the critical task ahead is recruiting the right partners to join your program.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Partner Recruitment

A well-planned and deliberate strategy for partner recruitment is vital, as it directly influences the overall success of your reseller partner program.

First and foremost, establishing your overall business objectives for the program is essential. By clearly defining the purpose and goals of your reseller program, you will create a set of criteria for evaluating potential partners, ensuring they align with your objectives.

For example, if your goal is to penetrate a specific market, such as expanding into the EMEA region, prioritize resell partners who have an established presence and robust market reach in that area. This focused approach will enhance the likelihood of success in your market expansion endeavors.

Revenue potential is another critical factor to consider when recruiting partners.

Prioritize partners based on their capacity to generate revenue for your business.

To assess this, a good tactic is to gather data on the overall revenue your reseller partners bring in on an annual basis as well as the total number of customers they currently have.  

By understanding this you can start to prioritize the order with which your recruit partners, spending more time on the partners that are likely to bring in revenue to your partner program.

The final factor to take into account when deciding which resell partners to recruit, is the overall commitment level of your potential reseller partners. While a partner may appear perfect on paper, a lack of genuine interest and dedication to the partnership could result in wasted time and resources.

Evaluate their willingness to invest in the partnership, before officially signing them up for your partner program.

By thoroughly assessing what constitutes a good reseller partner, you can focus your time and energy on the partners that truly matter and those most likely to contribute revenue to your partner program.

Training and Enablement

Now that you’ve successfully recruited and signed up your first few partners to your program, it’s time to focus on the next crucial aspect: training and enablement.

Keep in mind that resellers are likely partnering with other vendors besides you, so it’s essential to bring them up to speed quickly and efficiently.

Developing a training and enablement program for resellers requires careful consideration.

First and foremost, the training content you create should be concise, engaging, and relevant.

Reseller partner sales teams have limited time to learn new solutions, so it’s important to produce training content that is not only easily digestible but also effectively conveys your solution’s capabilities and market positioning.

When crafting a training program for your resell partners, be sure to cover the following essential subject matter:

  • Technical training: Teach partners about how your product works and functions, ensuring they have a solid understanding of its features and capabilities.
  • Competitive analysis: Provide guidance on positioning your product against competitors, highlighting the unique selling points and differentiators.
  • Pricing and packaging: Share information on pricing structures and packaging options, enabling partners to create tailored solutions for their customers.
  • Sales training: Offer targeted sales training, including cues to listen for that might indicate a good fit for your product, and strategies for handling objections.

Jason Yarborough, Head of Partnerships at Drift, says that keeping your program simple and attainable is critical, especially when it comes to training. Instead of creating a training program that takes a a lot of time to get through, and contains content that is not valuable to the sales team, he recommends making it simple and relevant in order to drive adoption.

By using a PRM, like Allbound you are able to create automated training paths for your reseller partners to work through. Inside the Allbound platform you are able to create highly customized training for each reseller partner by segmenting partners based on factors such as geography to ensure that the training you are delivering is topical and relevant.

By developing a comprehensive and efficient training program for your reseller partners, you empower their teams with a thorough understanding of your solutions, ultimately increasing their likelihood of success in selling your products.

Rules of Engagement

A distinguishing aspect of reseller partner programs, compared to other partnership types, is the crucial need for well-defined rules of engagement to oversee the entire program.

Bruno Yoffe, Head of Channel Partnerships at Zapier comments on the importance of rules of engagement saying “Thoughtful and clear rules of engagement are critical for any successful partnership. These rules should communicate roles and foster collaboration by setting the stage for everyone’s responsibilities in the partnership’

"Thoughtful and clear rules of engagement are critical for any successful partnership. These rules should communicate roles and foster collaboration by setting the stage for everyone’s responsibilities in the partnership." BRUNO YOFFE - Head of Channel Partnerships at Zapier

Rules of engagement are indispensable when collaborating with multiple resellers, as it’s possible for several partners and your direct sales teams to pursue the same accounts, leading to channel conflict.

Untamed channel conflict can frustrate reseller partners and ultimately reduce their interest in maintaining the partnership.

Read more: 9 Strategies to avoid and resolve channel conflict

To avoid this, it’s vital to establish key components within your rules of engagement that help prevent such conflicts.

The first component to consider is outlining clear guidelines for lead registration. While the technology aspect of lead registration is relatively straightforward, determining which partner gets to work on a deal if multiple parties register the same opportunity is crucial.

Many programs follow a “First Come, First Served” rule, meaning the first partner to bring in a qualified sales opportunity will be the sole partner supported by your sales team.

In some cases, all partners can work on the deal, but your team’s assistance will go to the partner who is furthest along in the deal process, such as being in the procurement phase.

By documenting these rules and ensuring all reseller partners are aware of them, you create a reference point for resolving channel conflicts that may arise when partners feel excluded from a deal.

Bruno Yoffe of Zapier adds to this saying “Clear rules of engagement will promote comfort for all stakeholders and enable the teams to work together without reservation”

"Clear rules of engagement will promote comfort for all stakeholders and enable the teams to work together without reservation." BRUNO YOFFE - Head of Channel Partnerships at Zapier

This transparent approach helps maintain strong relationships with reseller partners and fosters a harmonious and successful partner program.

Sales and Marketing Support

Throughout this article, you may have noticed a recurring theme: your reseller partners are likely partnering with multiple vendors, not just your business.

This means that providing exceptional sales and marketing support is crucial to becoming their preferred partner and ensuring your product is as easy to sell as possible.

On the marketing side, it’s essential to equip partners with a range of resources that help them effectively promote your product and effortlessly market your solution to their existing customer base.  

Common marketing materials you should make available to resell partners include product one-pagers, battle cards with key talking points, and customer case studies that showcase the strength of your product.

Ensure these resources are easily accessible, downloadable, and offer co-branding options, minimizing the effort required for resellers to utilize them.

To make this process easier you can create a repository of information inside a PRM platform like Allbound.

With Allbound you are able to upload all of your marketing collateral into the platform, and then grant co-branding capabilities to your resell partners.

By making it easy to not only download but also co-brand materials, resell partners have access to a whole range of impactful marketing resources which they can use to drive more demand for your products.

In terms of sales support, you should also offer various types of assistance to help reseller representatives become proficient with your product.

The level of support can vary depending on the size of the reseller partner and the resources available in your partner program, but some options include regular training sessions led by your sales enablement team and hands-on support from your partner account managers during customer calls.

"Think about resellers as an extension of your direct sales team, resellers should have access to your product info, sales tools etc. Keep one north star metric in mind when providing sales support to resellers, make it simple and then make it simpler, make it easy for your resell partners." GWENN LAZAR - VP of Partnerships at Skillsoft

By offering resources that not only assist your reseller partners in promoting your product to their customers but also support their sales teams in becoming more proficient in selling your solution, you can significantly enhance the overall likelihood of success of your resell program.

Communication and Collaboration

Maintaining a top-of-mind presence is crucial when working with resell partners, as discussed throughout this article. Thus, it is essential to ensure that effective communication and collaboration form the core of your reseller partner program.

There are several strategies you can employ to achieve this goal.

Firstly, establishing a regular communication schedule with consistent calls is vital for maintaining an open dialogue and ensuring that the partnership progresses in the right direction. Organizing monthly calls to discuss key performance metrics can help identify and address potential issues, facilitating the partnership’s advancement.

In addition to regular calls, conducting strategic Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) is essential. QBRs offer an opportunity to evaluate the previous quarter’s performance and develop strategies for driving growth in the upcoming months. Regular QBRs help monitor the overall health of your partnership and provide actionable steps for improvement. Without these strategic discussions, resell partnerships may stagnate and fail to move in the right direction.

To further simplify this procedure, think about utilizing a platform such as Allbound.

Within the Allbound platform, you can develop partnership plans that are uploaded, tasks allocated, and success monitored to guarantee that QBRs are both practical and efficient.

A final effective strategy for keeping your product top-of-mind with resell partners is creating a partner newsletter.

This newsletter, distributed monthly or quarterly, should include product updates, new case studies, and other relevant information to keep your partners’ sales teams well-informed about your product’s essential aspects. The newsletter also serves as a constant reminder of your partnership and reinforces the value of offering your product to reseller partners’ customers.

By providing your resell partners with a consistent stream of valuable content, you can ensure that your company remains top-of-mind, motivating your partners to stay committed to the success of your partnership.

Tracking Success

Following the steps outlined above will put your program in a favorable position.

However, it is crucial to continuously assess the overall effectiveness of your partnership program and be adaptable enough to make improvements in areas that may not be functioning.

To achieve this, begin by monitoring essential data to gauge the overall success of your program.

This should include not only revenue-related data points but also feedback on various aspects of your program. For instance, collecting partners’ opinions on the quality and usefulness of your training and enablement initiatives is vital.

Should your training be deemed ineffective in equipping partners with the necessary knowledge to position your product properly in the market you must acknowledge this and make adjustments to better empower your resell partners.

Moreover, while concentrating on your own team and employing metrics to make informed choices, it is also essential to establish a means of sharing these data points with your executive team.

Partnership and reseller programs require significant investment from the business, so providing clear insights into your program’s performance not only prevents executives from repeatedly requesting updates and disrupting your team’s workflow, but also equips you with the data needed to advocate for additional investment in your program.

By keeping track of key metrics and making adjustments based on this data, you will be better positioned to address issues promptly and develop a reseller program that considers the feedback and suggestions of your partners.

Companies that are doing resell…well

In this article, we have provided a comprehensive guide for creating a successful reseller partner program. When executed effectively, these programs can generate substantial revenue and expand your business into previously unreachable markets.

To demonstrate the potential of a well-implemented reseller partnership, we reach out to some companies  who have successfully established such programs and gathered their insights on the factors that contributed to their reseller program’s success

Infosec

An Allbound customer, The Infosec Institute provides cybersecurity training and certifications to their customers.

They built a partner program from the ground up, and in a year have seen significant growth through their partner program.

They sell to a range of partners, but sell primarily through resell partners.

In building out their resell partner program, they focussed heavily on providing a great experience for their partners by doubling down on the level of training and enablement they provide to their partners.

Due to the way in which the team at Infosec paid close attention to the way in which they built their program to fit closely with the reseller partner type, they have seen incredible success and growth through their partner program.

In fact they have seen a nearly 4000% growth in terms of deals registered by partners since the launch of this highly personalized partner program.

NFON

An additional Allbound customer that has seen great success through resell partners, is NFON.

NFON provides cloud telephony systems across the globe.

Through its indirect sales strategy, NFON has recruited around 2000 partners to resell their solution to customers across the globe.

With this amount of partners, with different languages it became important for NFON to build a highly customized resell partner program.

Through the use of Allbounds PRM, NFON has crafted an effective resell partner strategy, with tailored language support and personalized content distribution.

Due to the amount of time and effort taken in building out a robust resell partner program, NFON have seen a significant increase in both deals registered and revenue generated through their program.

Conclusion

In conclusion, creating a successful reseller partner program is a powerful and strategic approach to expanding your business reach, generating new revenue streams, and tapping into new markets. By carefully selecting the right partners, establishing clear rules of engagement, providing comprehensive sales and marketing support, maintaining effective communication and collaboration, and continuously tracking the success of your program, you can build a robust and mutually beneficial partnership ecosystem.

As demonstrated by the case studies shared, businesses that have implemented a well-structured reseller program have experienced significant success in their growth trajectories. By learning from their experiences and following the guidelines laid out in this article, your company can also harness the potential of reseller partnerships.

To optimize your reseller partner program, consider leveraging platforms like Allbound to streamline communication, collaboration, and resource sharing. To find out how Allbound can help you, book a demo with us.

To learn more about partnerships, check out the Allbound blog or listen to “The Partner Channel” podcast.

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