6 Key Considerations for your Channel/Partner Strategy
Posted by Chip LeBlanc
A partnership is an arrangement between parties who agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. Companies partner to increase the likelihood of each achieving their mission. This could be generating leads in a new vertical industry or market, driving incremental revenue, validating a new technology, or identifying a potential suitor.
No matter what the mission of the partnership strategy, here are some key considerations:
Align Your Goals
For early-stage companies who are planning on creating a channel strategy, there first has to be a consensusamong thekey stakeholders as to the goals of the strategy. For example, if the channel strategy is about generating leads and expanding market presence, all must understand that a key first step is to ensure you have a few lighthouse customers.
Use cases go very far to helping the potential partner to understand the value impact of a partnership. Potential channel partners do not want to take the risk in introducing and or selling unproven technology to their customers. Early-stage companies with a technology that fills white space or can be “bolted on” / embedded into a third-party technical platform presents a different partnership type (ex. white label, bundle). The value impact for the partner is about enhancing their offering and may not necessarily require established lighthouse accounts. Partnering with thought/technology leaders also validates your technology in a particular market.
You Must Be Committed
When embarking on the partner/channel journey, here are some other things to think about. You must be fully committed (time, resources) to the partner strategy plan. You can’t be half in. To successful and fruitful executing partnerships set realistic expectations/KPIs for your partners and make sure your leadership is bought in.
Too many strategic partnerships never come close to achieving their intended outcomes. Why? The partners never dedicate the resources, ongoing commitment, and ownership needed to drive meaningful impact. Achieving success with joint go-to-market or product development collaboration is hard work. It takes time. It costs money. And it doesn’t happen overnight. To get it right, you have to run the partnership more like a true business and less like a deal. (Forbes)
Quality not Quantity
Don’t boil the ocean! Ensure you have categorized and prioritized the partners you want to target. It's all about the quality of the partner. Signing up many partners your sign up can be costly to your business.Creating a broad network of partnerships can be expensive .
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Remember the partner that did not understand your technology and value proposition? Many channel companies (regional SIs, VARS, etc.) are now investing resources into new tech like AI and Machine Learning. Those channel companies likely have maintained their customer relationships and are in need for value-added technology. Approach them again!
Test Test Test
Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, before going “full on” with a partner strategy and program, test market your strategy with a few target partners to validate or refine your strategy. This is the most cost-effective approach to rolling out a partner strategy.
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