You’re working hard. Your sales and production teams are, too, but your competitors are working just as hard. In such a crowded marketplace, how do you differentiate yourself and keep innovating while generating enough sales?
When done right, a channel partner can help you convert those additional sales leads, bring in new channels for growing your business and allow you to provide more value to your customers. But, in order to maximize your benefits from channel marketing efforts, it’s imperative you work with the right partner.
That said, here are the top attributes you should look for in a channel partner.
Find the right fit for your business
Apples and oranges — like the old saying goes — aren’t interchangeable. Based on your vision for your product, your understanding of the market and your own personal goals, take your time to study the ecosystem and find the right channel partner for you. Ask questions like:
- Do they understand your target demographic?
- Do they have any conflict of interests / do they work with any major competitors?
- Do they come with good references or recommendations?
- Are they prepared to display ownership and respect your timelines?
Find the right fit for your product or service
Based on your business or product type, figure out whether you need someone with B2B expertise or B2C expertise. For instance, if you’re a business that caters food, you’d want someone with adequate B2C experience who would target the right audience. Or, you could have someone bundle your catering services with their clean-up services — it’s a win-win for all, and added value for your customers as well.
Get to know each other
Your partners could have a similar style of working as you, or perhaps they bring something entirely different to the table. In order to get the most out of the partnership, invest time in learning about them and their work.
At the same time, you should educate them about your company and its offerings. Many companies with successful marketing channels take the time to create learning workshops and brainstorming discussions to make the most of a new hybrid-sales strategy.
Make sure you have visibility into your partner’s sales pipeline
Sure, you’ve been careful about who you picked as a sales partner, but your job doesn’t end there. While you should avoid falling down the rabbit hole of becoming a micro-manager, you still need to watch out for a few things once the gears are in motion:
- Are they prioritizing the kinds of sales you know from experience tend to convert more fruitfully?
- Are they relying too much on “safe” client acquisition plans and not enough of innovating and pushing the envelope or trying new things?
- Are they following up with the right leads and spending their time wisely?
Make sure you know what you’re looking for
The best channel partners find it difficult to perform and show results, if their clients themselves are unclear or fail to give enough direction. If you’re looking to gain maximum value from such a partnership, you also need to be clear on what you want to achieve. Ask yourself: What do you need your channel partners to do to make the relationship productive? What information, direction or insights can you provide them to make their sales easier?
Keep tabs on customer feedback
Sometimes, your own customers will tell you what’s abundantly clear to them, but difficult for you to see. One of the best ways to make sure you’ve on top of things is to seek consistent feedback — especially from loyal customers. If you’re taken on a new channel marketing partnership or are trying new strategies out with your partners, bring a few customers on board for unbiased feedback on your brand, market positioning and product-market fit.
At the end of the day, your involvement can decide the overall value of any channel marketing partnership. Stay focused on the dual goal of revenue and customer satisfaction, and keep questioning what you can leverage to provide better value for money for your customers. These reminders can help you make the most of a relationship with a new or existing channel partner.