Setting up a successful channel sales and marketing strategy is key for your partner relationship management (also known as PRM) efforts. It’s well-known that you have to bring buyers along on a journey and persuade them to buy, but what about partners? Given that 86 percent of solution providers are planning on adding a new vendor or technology practice to their business in 2016, it’s crucial to promote a strong appearance to potential partners so that they choose you over your competition. So what are you doing to promote and strengthen your partnerships? Here are some suggestions on the ways you can guide your partners throughout their journey with your business!

 A Channel Partner

Finding the right partners:

How visible are you to potential partners? The first step to identifying new partners is ensuring that your company is presenting an attractive appearance so that potential partners can find you and start thinking that you would be a viable partnership option. It’s also important to, in the case that another company does approach you, have set criteria that establish what kind of partners you’re looking for. This will allow you to immediately eliminate some possible partners, without having to waste your time in deliberations. Once you’ve begun considering partners- or once a potential partner has approached you- it’s important to ensure that the channel partners you choose are able to reach out to the customers you need- and, furthermore, that they’re reaching out to a market you might not necessarily be able to reach yourself.

Creating a strong relationship:

Once you’ve decided to work together, communication is key. Both sides should be open about their objectives for the partnership, and about the ways in which you’ll be able to work together. It’s at this time that a culture fit with both your new partner and the customer base will be established, so that you can determine the ways in which your message will be communicated and the materials to use. It’s at this moment that it’s important to start sharing resources and training your partners so that they know how your company’s sales and target market operate. It’s also the time to establish KPIs that will ensure both sides know what is expected of them. Possible metrics to measure include, for example, lead close time and number of relevant leads identified. This onboarding could also incorporate eLearning modules so that all training can be done virtually.

Once you’ve forged a partnership:

It’s vital to provide your partners with the right tools so that they can help you leverage your strengths and diminish your weaknesses effectively. One such tool is the partner self-service portal. It provides modules such as leads and opportunities, so that partners can register their new deals, and can synchronize bidirectionally with your CRM systems so that all your information stays up to date. Developing the right partner portal also removes reliance on email, so that you can communicate more efficiently and provide them with all the services they need in one location. Such social business platforms allow both you and your business partners to simplify your operations as well as showing your partners that you trust them by opening up a greater degree of collaboration and communication in planning your new sales initiatives.

If such large and well-established companies as Dell are planning on expanding their partner networks, the time is clearly ripe for establishing partner sales channels and creating strong, mutually beneficial relationships. Investing in a partner portal is a great way to help solidify these partnerships while streamlining communications and closing deals more quickly- so check out our solutions today!