A channel partner is generally a person or organization that partners with a manufacturer or producer to promote and sell their products, services, or technologies. Various organizations including distributors, retailers, vendors, consultants, system integrators, technology deployment consultancies, managed service providers (MSPs) and value-added resellers (VARs) come under the category of channel partners.
To make it simple, a channel partner is a common phrase used to describe a business-to-business (B2B) relationship in which a smaller company partners with a corporate manufacturer to market and sell their products, services or technologies. Channel partners, form relationships, also known as co-branding for various reasons and results.
For the manufacturer, a channel partner can help bring a new product to the market and enhance the visibility of a brand and boost sales. For businesses, a channel partner helps to open the doors to new businesses with a lower cost and a smaller risk factor.
Benefits of a Channel Partnership
A channel partnership can be beneficial for both the parties- the vendor and the partner. It is essential for vendors to choose the right group of channel partners so as to get the best returns on their investment. With channel partnerships, vendors can gain access to the partner’s existing customers, thereby enhance their sales exponentially. On the other hand, the channel partner can enjoy increased revenue by cross-selling a new product to its existing customers. They can even acquire additional customers who are interested in the new offering.
Here are some of the key Benefits of channel partnership, have a look:
• Access to a full suite of products and services:
Channel partnership allows partners to offer a variety of new products and services from numerous vendors. This helps channel partners to deliver an assorted product portfolio to their customers to meet their specific business and technology requirements.
• The Benefit of an established name:
Small organizations can benefit from the established name and repute of large vendors. Utilizing established brands in sales and marketing materials lends immediate credibility to the channel partner’s reputation as it helps small organizations to convey to their potential customers that the partner has a business relationship with a well-established manufacturer
• Additional expertise and resources:
Channel partners can benefit from the additional expertise and resources. They can have access to a vendor’s human and financial resources including product and market training, technical support, MDF (Market Development Funds) or co-op funds, campaign templates, and more.
As many vendors continue to market their products and services on their own and build leads, they then pass the leads onto their channel partners for follow-up.
• Amplified margins:
Additional discounts and revenue opportunities can be achieved based on the number of products sold.
• A swift way to target customers:
Many manufacturers and vendors find building channel partnerships the quickest way to gain market share and work with a partner who already has their target customers as their customers. Channel partners spend a great deal of time and effort building personal relationships with their clients. Their recommendations on new products or services hold a great deal of weight for vendors with the customer.
• Reduced cost of sales:
Establishing an indirect sales channel instead of employing an in-house sales team and help manufacturers to save on employee’s salaries and benefits along with various other expenditures like travel costs to visit prospects, time spent on unqualified leads that never convert to sales, etc.
• Access to new markets:
Several channel partners have a well-established presence and reputation in particular market segments. This benefits the manufacturers and vendors as their channel partners who have a deep understanding of various industry verticals can deliver new customers at a fraction of the time and cost.
Ways to Manage a Channel Partner Network
Below mentioned are some of the most effective ways to build-up a healthy partnership and manage a channel partner network, have a look:
Choose the right partners:
In order to build a perfect channel partner network, it is essential for vendors to choose the right partners. It is important to focus on cultivating the right relationships so as to create an ideal partner profile. Now the question is who can be your ideal channel partner? Well, for each partner candidate, you must ask the following questions:
• Are they ready? Do they have the resources to invest in the partnership?
• Are they willing? Will the partnership help them attain their goals?
• Are they able? Is there a technical fit? A competence fit?
• Do we have similar values?
All these questions along with some thorough research can help you to choose the right channel partners.
Discovery: The next step in building and managing a channel partnership is to find out what the potential partner is already providing. It is important to talk to your potential or existing partners to get a feel for what matters most to them.
Some of the key questions you can ask, include:
• What is important to you in a partnership?
• What are the key growth drivers of your business?
• What is your unique value proposition?
• What are you struggling with?
• Who are your best customers?
• What will our biggest hurdle be?
• Is there a market desire for our joint offer?
• Can we really stand out in the market?
• Do we have the right information and skills to deliver this?
The result of asking these questions should give complete clarity regarding the opportunities and challenges the partnership will bring.
Set goals and outline commitment:
One must understand that in a partnership, each party has their own interests. Good channel partnerships are those that are transparent about their interests and are built upon the understanding that the success of one partner contributes to the success of the other. Therefore, both parties need to understand what the prospects are, how you are defining success, and what contributions on both sides will help you get there. Some of the key objectives that you must set and discuss with your partners include:
• Specific view of the target market
• Strategies and tactics
• Who’s going to do what
• Resources both parties have committed
• A realistic view of the ROI
Once the objectives are set, the next step is to outline the commitment for both parties that must include:
• What is the partner going to do?
• What are you going to do?
• Are the commitments realistic?
• Do you have everything to deliver them?
• Are there any potential barriers?
Facilitate introductions: After defining goals and commitment, it is vital to invest in relationships. A dedicated resource like a partner manager can facilitate introductions between teams and foster relationships. Knowing partners helps to build trust with them. Moreover, partners can be a source of valuable product feedback. So, connecting with them regarding feedback can be really helpful.
Enablement: It is vital for companies to empower their channel partners in various key areas including technical training, building industry expertise, and sales training.
Technical training: Partners need to be experts in your products. They must be able to use the product for free so they know what they have to sell. Once the partners are trained, make sure to keep them up to date with the products. Also, provide them access to new functionality timely. So that when it hits the market, they’re experts from the starting.
Industry Expertise: Timely and significant industry information shared with partners can put them at a considerable advantage over the competition. To do this, companies need to stay up to date about what’s happening in different industries, keep their eyes open, and inform their partners about the trends.
Sales Training: Since Business-to-Business tech partners are now selling to business leaders, a partner enablement program must consist of strong business training. It is important to provide partners the right consultation regarding how to improve their business and how to set up new service offerings.
A channel partnership that is built and managed perfectly can definitely bring fruitful results. Successful partner marketing programs can boost the visibility of a brand, its capability to access new markets, and its overall sales.
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