Reseller programs are designed to create leverage and scalability. The trick is building one that works. Cloud, especially SaaS, has redefined the fundamentals of building successful channel programs. The obstacles to success are the same but can be overcome with a few fundamentals:
First things First
Quality vs. Quantity
Good Things Take Time
Treat Them Like Your Own
Track and Adjust
First things First:
Before establishing a Cloud based channel sales program you need to define and validate your product positioning, value proposition, and message. It’s best to establish this with direct sales so you can control the testing and tracking of your results. If you roll out a channel program before these are validated it will be difficult for your channel program to gain traction. Channels can help you deliver your message but they don’t develop it. Start your channel program with a tested message to accelerate your sales traction.
Quality vs Quantity:
Your intention should be value and not volume when building a channel program. Bringing in a large volume of unqualified resellers will be counter-productive and will kill the program before it starts.
Target partners who sell and support Cloud services and have matured their models for SaaS. Many come from professional services groups at traditional VARs but have structured their sales model around recurring revenue models and Cloud sales make up a large portion of their overall profits. Also understand the VAR’s core business model, skill sets is aligned with yours and are committing specific resources to your GTM, both executive management and the field sales managers. Everything begins and ends with the sales teams.
Good Things Take Time:
You need to set you budgets and expectations to go the distance. Like a direct sales team, your partners need to be trained on your message and how to deliver it then supported through their first sales. So it will take some time to find the right partners then recruit, train, and support them to establish the base for sales acceleration and replication.
Treat Them Like Your Own:
Training is critical if you are going to develop referral partners into resellers. Yet most companies invest only in basic online modules or leave training to channel account managers. Whatever you deliver to your direct sales team you should deliver to your resell partners and more often. One introductory webinar won’t cut it. Consistent training, delivered consistently.
Track and Adjust:
As Jack Welch says, “You can’t manage what you don’t track.” Most vendors only track current deal pipeline with partners. That is important but what is even more important is tracking the elements that lead to consistent pipeline. Tracking reseller investment (time and money) is the strategy you’ve both committed to. Tracking training plans, delivery, and follow up. Tracking changes in the reseller’s business model or overall strategy. One thing that research shows is that anything you start tracking improves…it’s even truer with Cloud channels. That data makes it easy to make adjustments and improve your program correctly (increase channel revenue). Track, analyze, and make adjustments.
Author: Kirk Jones, Partner