In today’s world, channel partner management is crucial for a company’s success. Did you know, for instance, that 75% of world trade occurs indirectly?
If a business or brand wants to grow quickly, it is, therefore, crucial for them to work with channel partners and, more importantly, know how to manage them to get the best results.
Who are channel partners? An Introduction to channel partner management
Companies that rely only on direct sales may not create the impact they want or see the growth they anticipate. Hence, most brands and firms turn towards indirect sales channels such as resellers, service providers, affiliate networks, independent salespeople, and others to assist them with marketing and sales. Channel partners are third-party vendors that work for your growth.
Here are some of the benefits of working with channel partners:
- You won’t need to hire many salespeople.
- Since channel partners spend their own money to help you get sales or leads, your customer acquisition costs will drastically decrease.
- You only pay for what you get.
- You’ll be able to enter hard-target markets with ease.
- Channel partnerships can help increase branch visibility and reach.
- Channel sales can also significantly increase your company’s revenue.
Before you implement a channel partner program, however, you should first find out if it’s right for your business.
Why are affiliate marketing agencies effective at connecting businesses with channel partners?
Affiliates are third-party companies or individuals that benefit a company by becoming marketing channel partners. As they are paid per sale or lead, the commission or income they derive is based on pre-agreed terms.
Depending on your company’s needs, an affiliate marketing agency can help fulfill a number of requirements. Their strengths include the following:
- Affiliate marketing agencies have vast experience and can assist you in making industry connections.
- They work with a lot of companies and therefore know how to handle different situations.
- They also have the necessary tools, software, and other resources to assess your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
Picking the right agency can take time and effort. When hiring one, keep the following in mind:
- Expertise in the domain: Look for agencies with experience working with firms in a similar field to yours.
- Tracking success: What are some KPIs that the company is going to use? Learn about the metrics that they are going to use to measure success. If you check this information with two or three agencies, you will know which one is offering the best method to assess their performance
In addition, it’s also best to inquire as to how they are suited to your business. To help you make an informed decision, always ask potential collaborators the following questions.
- Apart from yours, how many other affiliate programs will the designated channel partner manager be handling?
- Can they share a 90-day plan to help you understand what to expect?
- What is the scope of the work, and how much do you have to pay them monthly?
When you ask questions like these, you will better understand the company and what to expect from them.
Learn more about “Top reasons why an affiliate marketing agency is right for you.“
What are some of the popular types of channel partners?
When it comes to partnership marketing, there are various types. Picking the right ones will help you achieve growth and results. Since numerous types of channel partners are available, you should look for the ones that will complement your business.
Here is a list of some of the most popular channel partnership types:
1. Indirect sales
When you partner with a third-party company or individual to market your brand or products and generate leads or sales, it is called indirect sales. Indirect channel sales help companies scale up quickly.
2. Channel VARs
Channel VARs, or value-added resellers, are also known as solution providers. The best part about collaborating with Channel VARs is that they will sell the products you manufacture to their existing customer base. You should partner with them when launching new and innovative technology.
Resellers, also referred to as reseller partners, customize the products you are manufacturing before distributing them to their customer base.
4. Agency partners
Agency partners act on behalf of you and your interests. They close deals for you. Sometimes, they might sell additional products along with yours. Some will even collect payments on behalf of your firm and maintain customer relationships for you.
5. Managed service providers
Managed service providers (MSPs) are affordable and can be great potential partners for a brand. MSPs support their customers using IT infrastructures and end-user systems. These companies proactively provide solutions so customers can have a good experience using your products or services.
While so many different partner types are available, you should brainstorm with your team to pick the right company that perfectly matches your requirement and can guarantee the best results.
Learn more about “10 types of channel partners that can help scale your business.“
How can partnership marketing help boost sales?
Sales are crucial for a company to grow and thrive. Generating sales or leads should therefore be a top priority for any firm. Luckily, with channel partnership management, you can achieve this task quickly.
If you are looking to increase sales, here are some key strategies that you should follow:
- Handpick the right channel partnerships from all available options. Assess whether your prospective partner has the right target audience.
- Set SMART goals to reach your target. Speak with your partners to decide which metrics you will use to measure success.
- Create a contract and have your partners sign it before beginning business. A contract detailing the tasks and responsibilities each collaborator should fulfill will strengthen partner relationships. The conditions in these contracts are binding for both parties.
- Provide ongoing support to your partners after the initial onboarding. Offer training, update them on products, and meet them regularly to answer questions.
Learn more about “How to increase sales with partnership marketing.“
What are the most effective ways to manage channel partners?
Channel partner management is vital for the success of partner marketing. Various strategies, tools, and resources are available to assist you and will help your business thrive.
Here are some of the best practices for channel partner management:
1. Systematic onboarding
Partners should know how to do various tasks. They can only generate more revenue from leads and sales when they know your products and services. Hence, you should have a proper plan and strategy to welcome new partners.
Training is an ongoing exercise. To reach their potential, partner programs require time, effort, and resources. Investing in onboarding can therefore deliver results.
2. Build relationships
It’s obvious, but channel partner management depends entirely on business relationships. You should therefore get to know who you are working with and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
This knowledge will assist you in comprehending how you need to provide your partners with the necessary support. If possible, you should dig a bit deeper to understand the workflows and processes they are following.
3. Set goals and keep a tab on analytics
As discussed, setting realistic goals is crucial for the success of partner marketing programs. SMART goals will enable you, your partners, and your potential partners set realistic goals that are both flexible and achievable.
Setting goals is good, but checking performance is crucial. Investing in a performance marketing tool such as Swaarm is vital if you want a clear view of your partners’ performance. Partner relationship management (PRM) software will help you stay on top of everything.
4. Receiving regular feedback
When it comes to partnerships, feedback is also essential. Ensure your partners can provide feedback to you through anonymous surveys. This will enable your channel partners to share their thoughts and insights without any inhibitions.
Train channel managers to take feedback from the partners. Create processes to dissect the data collected and implement those findings that will enhance the partner experience.
Learn more about “7 ways to effectively manage channel partners.“
What are some of the mistakes to avoid in channel partner programs?
Mistakes can be quite costly in channel partner management. As such, if you want your partner sales to increase, you should get to grips with some of the common errors some companies make.
Here are some of the mistakes that you can easily avoid:
1. Choosing the wrong partners
Having more partners does not necessarily equate to greater profits. You should, therefore, only pick partners that can make a difference. Before you frame your strategy, always understand your needs and how many partners you require to meet them. Some of the best practices include:
- Having a recruitment process to vet all the potential partners before going into business with them.
- Using a partner portal to communicate with your partners, provide resources, and check how they are performing. If a partner isn’t performing as expected, it might be time to wrap up your business with them.
2. Not providing ample training
As suggested, in partnership marketing, training is everything. Having a training plan and strategy is, therefore, of the utmost importance. When your partners understand your company, its products, its services, and a plethora of other factors, they will be able to perform to the best of their abilities.
Schedule regular training sessions so that your existing and potential partners can receive up-to-date information about your company. Doing so will strengthen channel partner relationships.
3. Not investing in automation tools
Don’t use manual applications that require a lot of input from your end. Instead, invest in an automation tool such as Swaarm. It will help you to obtain real-time data in seconds and improve efficiency.
4. Depend too much on your channel partners
Being too dependent on channel partners is one of the biggest mistakes companies can make. If you want your efforts in partnership marketing to work, you must have a solid sales team generating leads and sales. They should be busy giving demo calls to prospects.
Affiliates or channel partners will only trust companies that are stable and self-sustainable. If they are assured of this, they will work with you. If they aren’t, they won’t – it’s that simple.
Learn more about “7 common mistakes to avoid when developing channel partner programs.“
What is partner lifecycle management?
Partner lifecycle management is one of the most important components of channel partner management. There are five main stages in partner lifecycle management.
This list covers almost everything a business can do to manage its partner relationships.
The critical stages in the partner lifecycle include
1. Identifying and discovering
In this stage, you will do everything to identify the right partners or affiliate marketers. Since there will be many potential partners, you should only pick partners that can provide access to your ideal customers.
2. Recruiting Partners
In this stage, your main focus is to reach the right partners and recruit those you have identified. There are numerous methods to reach potential partners.
Some of the best ways include:
- Using social media
- Working with influencers
- Attending events and conferences
3. Onboarding Partners
As explained, onboarding partners is one of the crucial stages in partner lifecycle management. And as discussed, to onboard partners properly, you need a strategy.
Remember that your partners or affiliates will only perform well when they know the ins and outs of your business.
Use the partner portal to give them access to all the resources and other data needed to perform their duties. To help your partners stay up to date, make training a constant component of your working relationship.
Learn more about “What is partner lifecycle management?“
When launching a partner marketing program, how does competitive research help?
Before you launch your partner program, it is crucial to understand your competition. When you undertake competitor analysis, however, you will quickly understand which strategies you will need to follow to succeed. Most importantly, you will also be in a better position to launch a successful partner marketing program.
Here are some factors you should consider when doing competitive research:
1. Identify your key competitors
Find out who your competitors are by doing some research. Use tools such as search engines and paid ads on the search engine results page to quickly find out who your competitors are.
2. Landing pages
Visit your competitors’ landing pages to see what kind of wording and call-to-actions they use to attract potential partners. What is their payment model? You should also check their terms and conditions and see which ones you want to incorporate into your landing page.
3. Check their social handles
Corporate and commercial social media profiles contain a lot of information. Take some time to research them and learn how your competitors are performing on social media. Check the number of followers they have and which influencers and publishers they are using to promote their brand, products, and services.
Partnership marketing can take your business to the next level. If you want your company to succeed, mastering channel partner management is therefore crucial.
Listed above are various methods and strategies brands or companies follow to enhance their channel partner management and yield better results.