You are the VP of Sales or Channel Support for an emerging growth company and the decisionhas been made to use a channel selling strategy to reach the ambitious revenue targets set by your CEO.  How do you find the right channel partner, recruit them and get them up ramped up to their full selling potential fast?

A good starting point is to decide what you mean by “right.”  What would make a channel partner a good fit?  This is the most important question when it comes to channel partner recruitment.  There are several factors that you need to consider in order to answer this question:

  • What is the philosophy of the partner when it comes to sales and support?
  • How many other vendors does the partner represent and what is the average tenure of those relationships?
  • What is the profile of the vendor’s sales team in terms of tenure, sales activity, industry knowledge, and accounts covered?
  • How strong is the management team?
  • What is their financial performance?

You can probably add several more bullets to the above list, but one of the most critical questions you need to answer about a prospective channel partner is: are they a transactional or a strategic partner?  A transactional partner has the following characteristics:

  • Provide little to no loyalty to your product/service
  • Not committed to helping differentiate your product/service or building your brand
  • Will quickly move to another vendor for a slightly better commission plan
  • View themselves as a “commodity broker”

On the other hand, a strategic channel partner has the following characteristics:

  • Looking for a long-term relationship
  • Looking to mutual build market position and brand with their partner
  • Puts a great deal of emphasis on training and education with their sales team

While you will probably have a mix of transactional and strategic channel partners, it is important to know which category each channel partner fall into so you can focus your limited time, energy and resources appropriately.  You want to focus on your strategic partners as they will provide many long-term benefits – customer feedback, stronger customer relationships, insight into industry trends and increased sales.

A best-in-class channel management technology (also called partner relationship management software) will provide the business processes to support channel partners and enable them to be successful.  What does this do? It shows them that you are serious about being a long-term strategic partner.  At a minimum, a good partner relationship management system will provide the platform that allows you to on board channel partners efficiently, get them trained on your products and help you make them productive as quickly as possible.