High-growth companies with several channel partners sometimes struggle to manage their partner relationships. This lead to several problems including misrepresentation of your business’ brands, poor channel performance, and conflict.
To help you avoid these issues, this post will share the best practices for channel partner management. These practices will help you extract as much revenue as possible from and ensure your brand remains well-represented in the market.
Choose the right partners
It’s a no-brainer that channel partner management is much easier if you are working with the right partners. The best way to select the right partners is to create an “ideal partner profile” which takes into account the following elements:
Are they ready to partner with you immediately and do they currently have the resources necessary to invest in your partnership?
Are they eager to stock your product and interested in putting money into promoting it?
- Competence and capability
Do they have the website, warehouse space, floor space distribution network and other assets necessary to sell your product? Are they good at what they do?
Does the company have similar values to your business?
Once you have this profile, perform market research to find businesses that meet your criteria. Working with companies that are well-suited to your brand will make channel partner management much simpler. This fantastic article by Neil Patel has some great tips on finding the right business partner.
Know your partners
Channel partner management is also much simpler if you know how your partner’s businesses work.
Learn how each partner differentiates themselves in the market, how they make their money, which kinds of promotional methods they prefer to use, how your products fit within their current product portfolio and so on.
By understanding the fundamental aspects of each partner’s business, you will be able to collaborate more effectively together.
Give your partners the tools they need to collaborate
Communication is key when it comes to channel partner management. Make communication easy by ensuring that you have the right technical tools in place. This can include newsletters, email lists, websites, forums, and partner relationship management (PRM) systems.
By facilitating communication, you allow partners to share best practices and ideas for promoting certain products. You will also discover if any partners are having trouble promoting or selling certain items.
When your partners feel empowered to share information with your business and other partners, they will feel more engaged with your brand.
Don’t crowd the market
Many businesses find it tempting to go for the widest product distribution possible by working with many different channel partners. However, this approach can often backfire as you may experience over-distribution and channel conflict.
Needless to say, this can cause conflict between partners and your business.
It’s important to take a very careful and analytical approach when working with channel partners. Make sure you understand where they will be offering your products and look for any potential conflicts before they occur.
Provide adequate training material
All new business relationships are exciting when they first begin, particularly when you are working with a new channel partner. The possibility of a partner selling your product in new markets is very exciting for a business.
However, you may soon discover that your partner is lacking the technical skills or knowledge necessary to sell your product effectively in the long term.
Avoid these potential pitfalls by providing technical information and training material that sell your products. This might include videos, brochures, blog posts, FAQs, and online seminars.
By ensuring your partner is well informed about your product range, you can increase their capacity to sell it, along with their motivation levels.
Focus on partner loyalty
It’s important to remember that a channel partner’s primary loyalty is to their employees and customers.
While they will treat your business as a valued partner, you will need to work hard to build a strong relationship and gain their loyalty. If you behave in a way that undermines a partner’s relationship with their employees or customers, they may abandon your brand.
Build trust by providing your partner’s with the support they need and treating their customers with great respect. Make sure your product remains high-quality and take all customer feedback seriously.
If your partner’s customers love your product and become brand advocates, your channel partners will be your biggest fans.
Incentivise and reward success
Providing rewards to channel partners will keep them motivated and happy. This increases engagement and ensures your brand receives the attention it deserves from channel partners.
In addition to incentivising sales, reward channel partners for completing any training that you are providing. This will ensure your channel partners remain very knowledgable when it comes to your products.