One way to scale your business is to focus on hiring more sales reps and building sales teams across different geos. However, there is always a ceiling to how many people you can hire and how to manage them.
This is where you can start thinking about building a channel sales partnership. By leveraging your partners' relationship with your potential customers, you can give them a percentage of sales (normally between 5% to 55%) to your partners and expand your market share.
There are pros and cons when it comes to building channel partnership business. The pros are that you now have an unlimited ceiling when it comes to scaling the sales. In theory, you can onboard as many partners as you want to start leveraging their relationships to get to your target market.
Of course, not everybody wants to work with you for a variety of reasons. This can be cultural, or they are highly involved with your competition, or simply they do not have the bandwidth to onboard another vendor.
The cons are that you are adding potentially two more layers (distributer and partner) to the sales cycle and now things are becoming more complicated. And of course, you are unlocking the potential of sales and channel confilcts.
Recruiting Channel Sales Partners
When you want to build your channel sales partner business, the first thing you need to do is to identify what partners you want in your partner echo system. It all starts with the customer. You need to have a basic understanding of the local market and roughly know which partners are serving which customers.
When approaching the partners, you need to have a strong business plan on how you can give them value and how they can help you grow.
If you go in with generic messaging and only ask for sales, things might not go as you like.
Clear value proposition and forecast, also illustrating the ease of doing business with you and predictable margin, are the key attractors when you want to recruit new partners.
Enabling Channel Sales Partners
Good news. You have just recruited your first partners. Now the next step is onboarding and training.
You need to have a strong plan in terms of how you want to onboard your partners. Remember, this is all part of partner evaluation of your brand and what partners can expect from you when things go live.
Make sure that you have a planned sales and presales training lineup.
In case that you are on a higher revenue target, you can start thinking about support and services partners as well that can help you and offload some of the technical inquiries from your support and services team.
Also, at some stage you need to think about marketing training as well.
Co-Selling to / through Channel Sales Partners
Congratulations. If you have recruited and trained your partner, it is now time for selling.
But not too fast.
You may want to think about your sales process and lead generation strategies. I have seen so many vendors that provide leads for their partners at the beginning of the relationship so that the partner can see that there is actually a business out there for this technology.
You may want to think about co-marketing strategies and injecting some money into your partner's marketing machine.
Also, constantly supporting their sales team across all aspects of the sales cycle without conflicting with the customer is another crucial element of channel sales business.