• Five Keys to Achieving Channel Success

    What do successful channel programs have in common?  They are built on a coherent framework of mutually beneficial partnerships, local market insight, exceptional channel professionals, and a sustainable, long-term approach to training and sales support.

    These are the conclusions from two executive summary reports, “Destination Europe: A CEO’s Guide to Developing a Successful Channel Strategy” and “Best Practices for Channel Partner Recruitment.”  The papers highlight many factors essential to achieving long-term channel success.

    Choose the Right Partners

    Identifying and selecting the right channel partners is a vital part of any successful channel strategy. Research potential partners carefully, identifying those that are a good fit in terms of market alignment, whilst keeping in mind your firm’s value proposition. What can you offer potential partners that will make them enthusiastic about adding your product to their sales offerings? When launching your first partner program seek tactical partners that can help meet first year targets, whilst also building ties with strategic partners that have the market reach to sustain long-term growth. When choosing distribution partners, make sure you understand the differences between a value added distributor (VAD), who may be better equipped during the sales process in terms of providing technical support for more complex products, and distributors oriented towards order fulfillment.

    Understand the Local Markets

    You can’t expect to succeed in a new market without understanding the ecology of the local market. The best and easiest way to acquire this crucial insight is to identify and consult with local channel experts, who can help you learn the intricacies of local market cultures. This knowledge should be used to execute a flawless transition of your product into your target markets, including all marketing, delivery and support materials, and to establish and maintain credibility with channel partners.

    Don’t Run Before You Can Walk

    Many IT vendors are tempted to enlist dozens of partners at the outset of a channel program. But the more-the-merrier approach can backfire, possibly complicating and diminishing the efficiency of your partner program. Proper integration of a few carefully-selected partners into your channel program is more likely to be profitable in the long run. Seek out partners willing to invest time to make the partnership work, and only recruit partners that can be easily sustained with marketing, training and sales.

    Hire the Right People

    There is no substitute for experienced channel professionals with insight and connections into your target markets who also understand your firm and your product. These individuals should be armed with their own contact lists and the right skills to sift through pools of potential partner candidates to locate the best-matched distributors and resellers. Consider these channel professionals your ambassadors. As such, they should be enthusiastic about your firm and its offerings, with the knowledge to understand how and where they fit within the local market.

    Invest in Your Partners

    As in any partnership it is a two way street relationship, which needs to be supported with consistent communications from both parties to avoid confusion. Often resellers find themselves frustrated and not able to keep up with Vendors who are constantly shifting the goal posts in regards to their accreditation requirements. Keep your partner program simple especially when launching in new countries in order to allow for partner feedback as to potential changes that need to be made. Always keep partners informed and schedule periodic review meetings to discuss what is working in the partnership and what can be improved.

    To gain further insights into this topic download these two complimentary Executive Briefs.

    Best Practices for Channel Partner Recruitment

    Destination Europe: A CEO’s Guide to Developing a Successful Channel Strategy

    OneStopClick delivers white papers and technology-related research for IT professionals.  Click here to download all white papers published by OneStopClick.

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