6 Steps to Build your Channel Partner Strategy Plan

Channel Partner Strategy Meeting

With the promise of increased reach, sales growth and new revenue, an effective ecosystem of Partners is something everyone should be striving for.

With the promise of increased reach, sales growth and new revenue, an effective ecosystem of Partners is something everyone should be striving for.

But unless your programme is underpinned by the right strategy, it’s easy to leave revenue on the table and find yourself struggling to engage, inspire and motivate your Channel.

A robust Channel Partner strategy is what puts your ecosystem on a path of perpetual improvement – a way to make sure you’re reaching the right people, with the right support, at the right time.

And, crucially, a sound strategy is what keeps your Partner enablement focused on the things that really deliver value.

Whether you’re building out your first Channel strategy or auditing your go-to market to drive performance, here are six key ways to make your programme – and your Partners – flourish.

#1 Define your value proposition and objectives

Your Channel Partner strategy doesn’t start with the Channel. First, you need to distil the value you provide as a business.

Your Partners have the potential to become your ‘biggest asset to telling your story’. If you can’t articulate that story, you’ll be facing an uphill battle as you try to bring new resellers and distributors on board.

Useful sources of insights on your core value proposition could include:

  • Existing marketing collateral
  • Feedback from existing customers
  • Case studies and customer success stories

By understanding your current position, you can begin to unravel what’s working, what your Partners can leverage, and what needs to evolve. From new verticals to specific regions around the world, these priorities become the core objectives of your strategy – the goals that will inform every decision you make.

#2 Profile your ideal Partners

A sprawling ecosystem of Channel partnerships isn’t always effective. The core of your Channel strategy plan needs to be focused on a very specific group of businesses – those with the reach, skills and expertise to hit your objectives.

Beyond volume, consider what kind of organizations would be aligned to your products/services, way of working, and future plans. This is a great opportunity to create multiple Partner personas, segmenting them into categories based on desirability. Later, this segmentation could form the basis of your programme tiers.

Finally, take a long-term view your Channel partnerships. Smaller businesses with access to the right verticals could grow significantly with the right support and enablement.

#3 Put Market Development Funds at the heart of your strategy

Once you understand your objectives and right types of Partners to make them happen, it’s time to take a hard look at what you can provide in return.

In part, that means segmenting your resellers with tailored programme tiers, incentives and margins – and understanding how you’ll focus your MDF strategy. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Channel execs everywhere are realising that digital engagement is vital – the earlier you can build this into your strategy, the better.

However, fair margins are just one part of your financial commitment to resellers. Consider how Market Development Funds can be used as part of your strategy and how you can align budgets to specific, measurable objectives. This doesn’t just help attract new Partners, but also keeps everyone engaged and focused on delivering the value you need.

From co-marketing and brand recognition to training opportunities, the most impactful Channel go-to market strategy is one that maximizes the value for Partners first. When your entire ecosystem is empowered to do big things, the revenue and growth will follow.

#4 Set clear expectations – that go both ways

Internally, we all work hard to build the right culture. It’s something that brings people together, gets them working towards shared goals, and improves overall performance.

Why should it be any different when it comes to your Channel partnerships?

There’s nothing worse than trying to force resellers to reshape their business around you, but setting clear expectations around activity, marketing, sales and performance is a vital step in safeguarding the success of your Channel go-to market strategy.

Don’t be afraid to set well-defined standards for your Partners, from the way they register leads to how they engage with your Channel team. Beyond these expectations, you could also set higher targets that give resellers a sense of progression and foster long-term relationships.

At the same time, this is also a good opportunity to pin down what your network can expect from you. According to Accenture, 77% of Channel Partners say they have more Vendor choices than they did three years ago. Competition for great Partners is fierce – and your Channel strategy should include your commitment to meeting your side of the deal and providing ongoing support.

#5 Commit to effective Partner enablement

A key part of how you’ll retain Partners long-term is your Channel sales enablement and Channel marketing enablement. In short, businesses don’t just want the opportunity to bring your product/service to market. They want to feel empowered to do it quickly, effectively and impactfully.

From sales training to ongoing marketing collateral and Market Development Funds, your Partner enablement plan should be comprehensive. Often, the kind of enablement you provide will set the path for your entire ecosystem. With this in mind, build out your initial package with a strong focus on the key objectives you’ve already outlined.

The challenge for every Vendor is management. It’s easy to offer a lot of enablement – but difficult to monitor engagement, get Partners invested in what you do, and deliver consistently. The right technology can help streamline and automate some of this management – so you can focus on maximizing value for your Partners, not the practicalities of making it available.

#6 Plan for the long-term in the short-term

Finally, the secret to an effective Channel strategy plan is thinking long-term. Thriving ecosystems of committed, high-performing Partners don’t appear overnight. They start with a strong plan – but also take constant nurturing over time.

The strongest Partner programmes leverage data at every stage. For you, timely data helps steer the ship, double down on what’s working, and get ahead of new and emerging opportunities. At the same time, remember how useful these insights can be for your resellers.

The more you can share, the better equipped they are to meet your objectives. Even better, this transparent, open approach sets the right tone for your relationship – helping Partners feel part of your community and, ultimately, paving the way to a strategy that delivers.

See why the way you generate Channel revenue needs to evolve.
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