• Tips & Techniques for Recruiting the Right Channel Partners

    Few companies go it alone today – and particularly in information technology. A study done by Channel Insider and Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions, for instance, reveals that more than $500 billion in IT goods and services is sold and delivered through channel partners in North America alone. The reasons are partner sales channels can maximize profits, extend market penetration, enable expansion into new markets, reduce sales costs, and, most importantly, help customers solve problems.

    Recruiting the right partners is the key to developing and expanding a successful channel partner program. The challenge is finding them and building a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship. According to a recent McKinsey & Company study referred to in Harvard Business Review, only half of all joint ventures deliver returns to each partner.

    In part, the reasons go back to basics – choosing the right partners and closely nurturing the alliances. Establishing clear and firm parameters for identifying, qualifying, and recruiting new partners is essential. Key planning and recruiting considerations are summarized herein:

    Planning

    Your partner recruiting plan must be linked to your overall marketing and sales strategies. Insist on concrete, measurable business benefits linked to your investments in partner recruiting. Perform an assessment of current market and sales gaps by territory. This will build a partner recruitment strategy foundation.

    Partner recruitment planning should involve evaluating prospect firms in terms of their location, potential revenue contribution, service levels, and cost of sales and support. Consider including assessments of brand loyalty and potential for channel conflicts, one of the flaws that is behind the demise of many channel programs. Once you develop a list of potential partners, evaluate their qualifications and rank their abilities to be successful and add value to your business. Identify targets with the crucial skills that can help enhance your own offerings – and what customers want from you.

    Recruiting

    As capitalists and entrepreneurs partners ultimately will be driven by profit and ROI. Any channel alliance should be structured to reward all partners. Loyalty, honesty, and integrity support the longevity of a partnership, but the overall business case you can present to potential partners — revenue and all — is critical. Ensure that you recruit partners with the qualities, strengths, capabilities, business models, and other competencies that meet your target specifications. Moreover, choose the partners that can drive business results and customer satisfaction for all parties.

    Summary

    So, build a partner recruitment plan tied to your business strategy; develop profiles and lists of targeted firms; create compelling business cases for these new relationships for both your company and the prospective partners; effectively communicate your value to the prospective partners; and only recruit firms that meet your qualifications. All of these actions are keys to achieving business partner success – yours and your partners’.

    Robert Henson is a Certified Management Consultant who held several senior channel sales & marketing leadership positions at IBM Corporation to including Program Director of IBM Systems and Technology Group General Business marketing, Director of Marketing for a cross organizational team of 75 global professionals leading joint go-to-market activities with 5000 small reseller partners, Global Marketing Programs Director of worldwide business partner solutions marketing, and Manager of Industry Solutions Marketing with IBM SMB Americas ISV channel partners.

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