Selecting the right partners to deliver what your technology brand needs from the channel can feel like a daunting process, especially when you’re looking to increase what the channel delivers to your business.
Having the wrong channel partners, or not being able to manage them effectively, can mean your channel marketing activity doesn’t have the impact it should. This can mean revenue from your channel activities suffers, as well being a source of frustration given the lack of resources this area of marketing often has to work with.
Understanding your ideal partner profile
There is often a view that the more channel partners the better – especially at executive board level.
But the trouble is that having too many channel partners can make managing them an almost impossible task. For example, there may be partners doing a great job, which are masking the poor jobs being done by others.
The Marketing Practice’s view is that less is more when it comes to channel partners. Having a few high-performing partners is preferable to having many partners that are not pulling their weight, as the latter can impact revenue and even negatively impact your brand perception.
The best approach is to have partners that fit best for you, both in terms of how they drive transactions and customer engagements, as well as the technology areas in which they are strongest.
Obviously, larger enterprise technology companies will have more channel partners as they will sell into a larger number of markets that each require a specific approach. But the idea of having quality over quantity still applies.
Understanding which new channel partners to onboard is also key, as you don’t want to waste time speaking to people that are not relevant and will not engage with your company and customers in the right way.
How can you audit your existing partners?
If you are concerned that you may not have the right mix of partners, you need to understand which partners are worth engaging with.
Doing this by tracking return on investment can be tricky, as channel partners vary in their level of sophistication when it comes to marketing. For example, if you provide funding for a channel partner to run a golf day, it’s difficult to then get visibility into how that translates into sales and increased revenue.
You need to audit your partner network by looking at a range of considerations, including when they last completed a transaction involving your product or service, the size of customer they typically work with, the size of the internal marketing and sales team, how they search for new business, and their accreditation level as a channel partner. In addition, it’s useful to understand how they drive through their processes to avoid stagnation.
What should you be looking to discover?
By performing an audit of your channel partners, you should be able to identify three types of partners:
Partners that are doing a good job and should be focused on.
Partners of opportunity – partners that are doing enough, but who you know can go further.
Partners that are not engaging, progressing or translating to revenue – perhaps just using your logo to attract business.
The number of partners that fit into these categories will then determine whether you should be investing more in some partners than others, whether there are partners you should cull, and even whether you should be looking for new partners.
At The Marketing Practice, we run a four-step process to kick-start our clients’ partner profiling, which can be summarised as follows:
Decide what you want your partners to achieve.
Analyse your existing partners network – understand their strengths, their sales and marketing plans, and the make-up of their business.
Identify which partners aren’t delivering what they need to, and should be potentially culled.
Decide whether you need to recruit new partners and identify which existing relationships have the potential to deliver more for your business.
By taking a step back from the day to day and not just doing the same thing again and again, you will be able to get the right mix of partners to deliver what your business needs from the channel.