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Are you getting the most out of your partner relationships?

4 min read By October 11, 2021 No Comments
How do you learn from your partners and end-users?

The biggest issue that we keep hearing from vendors? Too many partners and not enough time to keep them all happy. How can you give 100+ partners the time they need – and deserve. The answer is simple: you can’t.

At least, not the way you’re doing it now.

Partners are one of the most important things you need to succeed in your business goals. They are the ones selling your product after all. The question is, do you really know them? And if not, how can you help them to sell what you’re putting out? You need to know: What drives them? What do their customers look like? Which ones are your diamonds in the rough? And which ones need some TLC?

Unleash the power of the partners

You probably know about 20% of your partners personally – if that. These are usually the biggest sellers that make you the most profit. But is that down to the attention they get from you or do other factors contribute? Perhaps it’s time to dig a little deeper and find out why these are your most profitable partners.

What about the other 80% of partners, how do you increase their participation rates? They each have their own business model, and favoriting vendors isn’t necessarily part of it. In the old days, you could promise partners higher margins than your competitors, but those days are long gone. Today, partner management teams can be a huge asset, because you’re showing your appreciation for your partners.

But the most important way to unleash the power of your partners is simple: give them the attention they deserve and show your appreciation. A great way to manage your unmanaged partners is to work with distributors. And make sure they take a more partner-based approach. Find distributors that will be business partners instead of logistics partners.

Last but not least, make it easy for partners to work with you. Break down the barriers. Make sure your partners have easy access to everything they need. From manuals to whitepapers, campaign copy to banners. Don’t make them log in to a partner portal, or ask you for access. Just give it to them.

You‘re operating inside your own bubble

Ever noticed that you’re really good at talking about your business, products, and services, but not as good at explaining the effect they have on an end-user? This makes sense when you’re talking to your partners, but it makes it difficult for them to relay the message to their customers.

Could it be because you’re stuck inside your own bubble? This may sound harsh, but unless your name is Apple, end-users may not be that interested in your end-product. What are they interested in? How you can help them do their work faster, cheaper, and more efficiently. What is the effect your product or service will have on them?

So, focus on that. Train your partners to offer your products and services as an investment, not as a cost. Offset the cost of your product for how it benefits their work.

Why are you still working based on assumptions? 

Why has channel sales & marketing traditionally worked based on assumptions? Because we lack the knowledge. Data is siloed and hidden in systems – and even less visible for your 80% of unmanaged partners. If there is any data, to begin with.

Some of us at Channext have worked as Channel Managers for international companies. And guess what? We worked based on gut feeling. Launching campaigns and investing in high-performing partners, hoping that something will land. And being right a lot of the time. But this way of working makes it difficult to report back on your successes. And even harder to evaluate why something didn’t work.

Getting unexpected results from a campaign is down to a lack of knowledge about your end-users. The better your campaigns reach and resonate with your end-users, the more successful they will make your partners. Instead of working based on assumptions, you could be working based on facts.

Here are the top six questions that you need to be asking your partners. Get these right and you can start creating the kind of campaigns that convert.

The top 6 key data metrics
  • What kind of customers do you like?
  • In which sector are you most successful?
  • Which themes resonate the most with your customers?
  • What is your ideal customer profile?
  • What kind of education do they need?
  • How do they value you as a vendor in supporting them?

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