Your partner ecosystem has the potential to become a powerful sales and revenue engine for your business. Getting this right, however, requires having a few essential cogs and gears in good working order. You need to make sure that you implement the right partnership structure, choose the right monetization strategy, use the right technology, and, of course, recruit high-performing channel partners.

Because your channel partners interact directly with your end customers, help with onboarding and support, and generally represent your brand, partnering with the right organizations is just as important as hiring the right in-house employees.

What’s more, partners probably aren’t going to be clamoring to join your network. You’ll have to compete with other SaaS companies to recruit channel partners, influencers, and resellers in much the same way that you have to compete with them for end customers. For this reason, you need to make sure that your channel partner recruitment process is as slick and effective as possible.

1. When you set out to recruit channel partners, start by creating profiles that describe your ideal partners.

You can’t start going after your ideal partners until you have a firm idea of what your ideal partners look like. Spend time upfront creating a profile that describes your ideal channel partner. In fact, because your channel partners are likely to fall into a few separate categories, it makes sense to create tailored profiles for each category of partner. For example, some partners could be high performers right out of the starting gates, while others have the potential to become high performers with the right training, while others still might make fewer monthly sales but be well-positioned to penetrate a niche market.

When profiling your ideal channel partners, start with the end customer in mind. Think about which products your end customers buy alongside your own, which services or integrations they need to complement your product, how they make purchases, which companies they’re already loyal to, what their monthly services and tech budgets are, and so on. The answers to these sorts of questions will give you a pretty good starting point for working out who your ideal partners are.

HubSpot suggests considering the following aspects when defining your ideal partner:

·    Does their product or service complement your own product?

·    Are their existing customers aligned with your own target market?

·    How much technical training and support will they need from you?

·    Can your product slot into their existing sales process relatively easily?

·    Would the benefits of the partnership justify the level of commitment needed for success?

2. Meet your partners where they are.

What events – physical or virtual – are your potential partners attending? Which groups are they members of? Which forums do they participate in? Research partner behavior and build a presence in the spaces they already occupy. When you recruit channel partners, reach out to them via the channels and platforms they prefer.

3. Ask the right questions when interviewing potential channel partners.

When you get down to chatting to potential partners, make sure that you ask the right questions to help you work out whether the organization is a good fit, and if so, which particular partner category they fall into. Include these three critical questions in your interview:

·  What are your expectations when working with a SaaS company?

·  Can you tell us more about your clients?

·  Can you provide further details about your organization?

Check out our article, 3 Critical questions to ask a potential partner before they sign up, for a deeper dive into these three questions.

4. Consider working with master agents and distributors.

This Zift Solutions article highlights the benefits of choosing to work with master agents or other distributors when you set out to recruit channel partners. Partnering with a master agent can greatly expand your network in one fell swoop, as they’re able to connect your organization with a cohort of top performing sellers, assist with training, and help manage things like inquiries and commissions.

Going after master agents, however, requires having a watertight partnership structure, attractive channel agreements, and an excellent customer experience record. This is because part of a master agent’s function is to act as a gatekeeper for their agents.

5. Put thought into how and when you communicate with potential partners.

Just as you pour time and resources into designing an intelligent and impactful lead nurturing journey aimed at new customers, so you need to put thought into when and how you communicate with potential partners in your recruitment process. Plot out a series of communications and think about which channels are likely to have the most impact. The golden rule holds true here: personalization goes a long way.

We suggest implementing partnership co-design into your strategy. It is the process of permanently discussing with your stakeholders in order to create your ecosystem strategy around their needs. You can learn more about it in our post The importance of partnership co-design in your ecosystem strategy

6. Continually assess your partners’ engagement and performance and adjust the way you recruit channel partners in line with your findings.

Continuous assessment is an important part of your partner recruitment process, as it allows you to improve your approach based on changing landscapes, new players, and the evolving market.

According to Zift Solutions, “In terms of measuring partner performance, detailed quarterly business reviews can help you test your partner profiles to make sure they’re performing as expected. You’ll see which products are performing best for your base on one hand, and on the other, you see which partners are performing the best with your products.” In addition, it’s important to identify unengaged partners who may have jumped ship to join your competition.

Bolster your efforts to recruit channel partners by investing in Morphed’s marketplace technology.

Give potential partners another good reason to join your ecosystem by offering them a brand new sales channel in the form of a private, eCommerce-enabled marketplace specifically designed to sell integrations and services online.

recruit channel partners

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