While it may seem simpler to sell directly to your clients, if you want to grow more quickly, it makes sense to leverage the power of channel partners. Taking on a new partner, however, requires time and resources. And since you want to make sure you are spending your time wisely, you need to target the right partners. Finding partners that are a perfect match for your company starts with a channel-partner profile.
Creating the Perfect Partner Profile
A channel-partner profile defines what criteria a partner should meet in order to be successful in selling your products and solutions. It is the first step in assuring win-win relationships. And the win-win part is essential for success since you do not directly control your partners. Given that, channel partners are going to do what is in their own self interest. So you want to make sure that boosting sales of your products or solutions is profitable for your partners and, thus, high on their priority list.
Take a look at your current partners’ key performance indicators—sales, growth, profitability, and anything else you feel equates to success. You’ll likely find that your partners bump up nicely against Pareto’s 80/20 rule with 20% of them producing 80% of the sales and profits. So to create a profile, find the 20% that are your top performers and model them. Look at the following attributes:
- Expertise and certifications.
- Products/solutions they sell.
- Geographical areas they cover.
- Company size.
- Size of sales team.
- Whether they provide service and support.
- Target market and customers.
- Small, medium or large businesses?
- Do they sell to government or industry? Which industries?
- Who do they work with inside these companies—for example, C-level executives, or leaders in Marketing, Information Technology, or Manufacturing?
- Core competencies. You’ll probably find that good partners have strong, motivated sales people; and robust processes and systems for lead generation and sales pipeline management. But there may be other competencies that distinguish the best partners for your product offering. Find out what they are.
- Business model. Is there anything unique about your successful partners’ business models?
Once you understand the attributes of your current top performing partners, you can reverse-engineer the perfect partner profile. Hint: It’s not the nice guys or gals with whom you have good relationships. It’s the ones that get results.
Once you have a clear vision of what you’re looking for in your channel partners, you can start recruiting—and perhaps weeding out some of your existing poor performers. The channel-partner profile makes it easier to develop a list of ideal targets, and also to recruit them. That’s because you can tell prospective partners you think they’ll be successful because they share attributes with your best partners.