So you want to build a channel program but don’t know where to start? Fear not as we are breaking it down for you starting with how to define your Ideal Partner Profile (IPP).
Just like when you’re dating someone, you probably have a list of requirements. Well, it is no different in channel partnerships. Having an IPP in place will help you filter out the good from the bad and ugly.
Start with the end-user and work your way back
If you’re building a channel plan, you want to work your way back from the end-user. You probably have an ICP in mind, so take that as your starting point to define partners that will support those end-users.
If you already have a direct channel, even better, go talk to your end-users! They are the most valuable source of information for you.
- Who do they buy from and why do they buy from them?
- What value are these sellers adding for them?
- Is that facilitation or ease of purchase, or are they getting special deals?
- What does their buyer journey look like?
- How do they stay informed about new or updated products?
- Who decides when, what, and how to purchase?
What is our ICP, and which partners are working with that ICP?
Once you have defined a clear ICP, it’s time to research which partners work with your end-users. Based on that, make an analysis of the partners that keep coming back. What kind of competencies, what kind of kind of variables do they have in common? This will really help shape your ideal partner profile.
What value do you need your partners to add?
Once you have a clear understanding of your end-user, you can figure out what a typical partner looks like for them. Partners provide value in different ways. Some partners sell a wide range of products, meaning an end-user can use them for everything – and get great deals as a result. If you’re selling a commoditized product where you need breadth and scale, this is the value you’re looking for in partnerships.
If you’re selling a highly specialized product that requires partners to provide more on a service and after-sales level, then you look for integration partners. They can deploy an manage your product for you. That’s the unique value they can provide.
Now you have the basis to start defining your IPP.
What should you include in your Ideal Partner Profile (IPP)?
When creating your IPP, there are a few basic questions such as territory, business size, and competitors sold to keep in mind. But the most important questions you want to answer are:
- What does their end-user demographic look like?
- What value-added services do they provide?
- What products (categories) do they sell?
- How many salespeople do they have
- What’s their territory coverage like?
- What technical capabilities do they have?
- Billing platform for SaaS
- Solution design
- Technical Infrastructure
Once you’ve got your IPP, put yourself in that partner’s shoes and start to build a partner orientated strategy around recruitment, enablement, and scale. That way you can understand, who the right partner is to hit your end-user. And now you’ve got the right message to hit that partner.
Which brings us to the next point.
Customize your messaging for partners and end-users
When crafting your message, you want to break it down into 2 structures: end-user & partner message. Channel-oriented organizations often only work to solve either an end-user problem or a partner problem. Sometimes they expect their partners to translate partner-facing messaging into end-user facing messaging. But don’t forget, your partners are not a marketing agency!
So instead, treat partners and end-users as very different strategies and then connect the two through your scaling process.
What value will you bring your IPP?
Now you’ve created an IPP, and defined the message that you need to tell them – and ultimately their end-users. Maybe the most important step before actually reaching out is understanding what you’re bringing them. So often people misunderstand ‘we want to work with you’ versus ‘you want to work with us’.
You need to build a proposition that’s engaging so that a potential partner understands you’re not just closing a deal together, you’re building a partnership. A partnership that will get you both closer to your goals.
Here are some questions you need to answer:
- What framework is the partnership is based on?
- What does the partner provide?
- What do you provide?
- What’s the plan?
- How do you scale this?
Once you both have a clear understanding of the value both of you will bring to each other and the end-user, nothing can stop you winning. But it needs to be a clear message across the board, not just for you and your partner but throughout both channel organizations.
If this article about defining your Ideal Partner Profile made you stop and think, be sure to check out episode 5 of Partnerships Unraveled. Want to listen via your favorite streaming service? We have them listed here.