This is Carolyn Bradfield and you’re listening to the Convey MicroCast audio series.
It’s natural to want everyone to like us and nowhere is this more true than in the channel. We get sucked into the idea that engaging thousands of sales partners will create the path to revenue. However, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to executing a good channel strategy.
It’s very rare when a service appeals to every partner, that they are comfortable selling, and that they understand. Executing a one-size fits all marketing strategy when it comes to partner recruitment is a sure-fire recipe to confuse the partner and frustrate your team when you are over-quoting for prospects that will never become customers. You have to understand who the right partner audience is for what you do and then help them understand the right customer audience for what you sell.
Here are only some of the consequences of connecting to the wrong partner or having partners connect to the wrong customer.
1. Engaging the partner who doesn’t get your service increases your cost of sales. You have to spend more time and resources educating partners, holding their hand through the sales process, and going through more prospects to get a deal.
2. Partners get frustrated when you reject their referral which can damage your reputation. There is nothing more challenging than to get the wrong type of deal in the door, reject it and then have a partner complain about you to their peers.
3. Your attrition rate goes way up. Attrition happens in two places: partners that become disengaged and customers that were less than ideal that don’t stick or renew.
So how does a channel program find the right partner audience to connect with and help those partners connect to the right customer audience? Here are three helpful tips:
# 1 Define the ideal partner profile to your channel audience.
As an example, if your services are more complex or require a higher-level sales skill, then consider creating an “elite partner program”. Define the type of partner you would like to engage with, the type of customer base that you would like them to have that meshes with your service, and some extra perks they might get for being in the elite program.
#2 Define the ideal customer profile
No matter what the service is, there is always an audience that is more right for your products and services than others. That audience is referred to as the ideal customer profile. Tell your partner who those customers are by defining the size of the company, the vertical markets you most often find them in, and the decision maker inside the company that will best appreciate your value proposition.
#3 Seek out master agents who have partners that come closest to your ideal partner profile.
Other than some of the mega master agents like Telarus and Intelisys, many master agents have specialized in certain partner types. They might focus on managed services providers as partners, agents who sell complex network deals, or those that specialize in certain vertical markets. Forming a relationship with a master agent that has your ideal partner profile allows you to go deeper, not wider to attract the right partner.
Remember, that it is pretty difficult to be all things to all people and certainly this is very true in the channel. It’s OK to exclude or not focus on partners that don’t have the skill set, customer base or desire to pursue the type of customer you want. And, partners will thank you for not wasting their time and wasting yours chasing the wrong deals.