referral partners, resellers, channel partners, partner network

So you’re sold on the value of referral partners, but who do you recruit? You could go after individuals or large entities that are willing to enable their sales teams to pass you referrals. Both are credible approaches, but first you need to determine who has access to your target buyer and target accounts.

Here are the questions for marketing, sales and channels to work together to answer in order to explore possible referral partners:

1. What companies have a complimentary product that sell into your same targets?

  • This could be integration partners or just companies selling into your same buying group. Another approach to answering this question is to identify the typical technology stack and services used in your target buying group. The other technology and service providers are a great place to start.

2. Who has influence over your target buyers?

  • If you are selling to SMB, there are many trusted providers to consider such as their accountants and bankers.

3. Are there any associations that your target buyers are members of or that they follow/trust?

  • Local associations and chamber groups are often a key way that small businesses network.

4. Are there any purchases that typically happen in coordination with yours?

  • For instance, when someone buys marketing automation, they may also buy a webinar platform. Or when looking to purchase VOIP telephony they may also be looking at video conferencing platforms.

5. Are there any consultant groups or agencies that are typically engaged in to advise on a purchase decision in your area or a process that is complementary to your offering?

  • From niche consultants to goliaths, there may be players that are influencing your target buyers.

6. Are your target buyers part of a franchise model?

  • If so, the franchisors have direct access and significant influence worth pursuing.

Certainly, if you have an existing partner network, you may want to consider transitioning poorly performing resellers into referral partners. And to avoid “failed resellers” in the future, you can make participation in the referral program a qualifying step before reseller. This proves out that the potential reseller truly has access to your target buyers before you put in the effort to train them.