Successful collaboration with strategic partners allows channel businesses to extend their reach, access new markets, and drive revenue growth, and the best way to manage this process is with a partner program. However, for a business to continue to develop and grow, that channel partner strategy needs to be both sustainable and scalable.
Why Scalability Matters
Growing your partner network provides several benefits, such as increased revenue, more opportunities to enter new markets and improved business security, as a larger network will mean that losing a channel partnership for whatever reason will be less impactful.
There are many benefits to a scalable channel partner program, such as:
- Market Expansion: Your channel partners provide access to new markets, allowing your products or services to reach a broader customer base.
- Cost Efficiency: Leveraging existing partner resources and expertise can reduce the costs associated with market entry and customer acquisition.
- Faster Growth: Channel partners can help accelerate growth by leveraging their established customer relationships and distribution networks.
- Diversification: Partnering with various channel partners can diversify your revenue streams, reducing dependency on a single channel.
- Global Reach: Channel partners can facilitate global expansion by tapping into their local knowledge and networks.
Without planning for scalability, you may face limitations in expanding your partner network, providing adequate support, and meeting increasing demand. A scalable strategy ensures you can efficiently accommodate growth and seize new opportunities.
The Key Elements of a Scalable Channel Partner Strategy
Channel partner program growth does not take one single form, there are many different ways you can scale your program, depending on your business objectives. Some of the key methods of growth are:
- Acquiring new partners
- Breaking into new territories
- Enabling current partners to sell better through sales and marketing support
- Increasing in-house lead-generating strategies and sharing those leads with partners
Whatever method of growth you are pursuing, the following elements are all parts of building an effective channel partner strategy:
Selection and Recruitment of the Right Partners
Choosing the right partners is critical to the success of your strategy. Look for organisations that align with your brand and business objectives, have a robust customer base, and possess the necessary expertise.
While ongoing training, assessment and management of partners is key, onboarding new partners shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out process. Swift onboarding allows your partners to hit the ground running, leading to quicker sales and stronger partnerships, because your partners can almost immediately see the benefits of your relationship.
Having a swift onboarding process also frees up more time and resources that allow you to onboard more partners as and when you acquire them.
Marketing Support for Channel Partners
Provide your partners with marketing materials, resources, and guidance to effectively promote your products or services. Collaborate on marketing campaigns and ensure brand consistency. When marketing or selling your products, your partners are an extension of your brand, so you must be aligned.
Equip your partners with the tools and training they need to sell your offerings effectively. This includes sales training, product knowledge, and access to sales collateral. Success is mutual for you and your partners, and supporting them will also incentivise them to prioritise your products and services over others.
Communication and Relationship Management
Maintain open lines of communication with your partners. Regularly update them on product updates, market trends, and any changes in your strategy. Building strong relationships promotes trust and collaboration. Conversely, a lack of communication can result in lost sales and reduced confidence in your brand.
Partner conflicts, misalignment of goals and inconsistent communication can be incredibly detrimental to partner relationships, and will at the very least stall growth plans. It is important to establish clear communication channels and ensure partners clearly understand your expectations and objectives.
Invest in partner training programs to ensure your partners are well-versed in your products, services, and best practices. Use a bespoke Learning Management System (LMS) to deliver online training that is accessible around the clock to accommodate your partners’ varying schedules.
Setting measurement metrics is an essential part of your strategy’s longevity. Tracking metrics help you to measure the effectiveness of your partner’s program and make decisions and adjustments based on real data. There are both profitability and opportunity metrics that you can track.
Revenue metrics can include your total revenue across all channel partners, the overall profitability of your program and more specific statistics such as revenue by specific partners, for specific products, in certain regions and across a set reporting period.
Opportunity metrics can include the number of leads by channel partners and the value of those leads, the number of leads they close, and the amount of time it takes for partners to convert leads into sales.
Building a Scalable and Sustainable Channel Partner Program
Creating an effective channel partner strategy is one thing, but it is important to set the foundations for growth from the outset. To ensure the scalability and sustainability of your channel partner program, consider the following strategies:
Defining Your Channel Partner Strategy Objectives
Clearly defining your channel partner strategy objectives, both in the short term and long term will help to determine the types of partners you want to target. For example, you may want to collaborate with companies that are fast growing and have access to new markets, or you may decide it is more mutually beneficial to work with companies that need to generate more revenue, as they will be more motivated to sell your products.
Start by defining the immediate goals of your partner strategy. These could include expanding into specific geographic regions, increasing market share, or diversifying your product offerings. Then consider how you envision your strategy evolving. Do you aim to expand to new markets, offer additional products, or onboard more partners?
Develop a Robust Onboarding Process
As one of the key growth strategies is expanding your partner network, you need to develop a plan for onboarding new partners quickly and efficiently so that you can expand your partner network as needed. Take a look at our channel partner onboarding checklist for more details on how you can develop a comprehensive onboarding process.
Maintaining Long-Term Partner Relationships
It is important to create a sense of partnership and collaboration rather than just a transactional relationship. While acquiring new partners is important, so is retaining and developing existing partners. Regularly assessing your partner’s performance and providing feedback demonstrates that you are invested in their development and value the partnership, which incentivises them in turn.
Use a Bespoke LMS for Training
Delivering your training through a bespoke channel partner LMS provides your partners with convenient, 24/7 access to educational resources. This round-the-clock availability is key for developing a scalable channel partner program, as not all your partners will work on the same 9-5 schedule. Access to training materials and resources will allow them to learn and develop at a time convenient to them, increasing the chance of them retaining the information.
Be Prepared for Global Expansion
Breaking into new territories is another way to grow your partner network, and the partners placed in those territories may not speak the same language as you. Utilise Wahoo LMS’s unique translation tools to overcome these language barriers, support global partners and facilitate your expansion into international markets. This will ensure that all your partners receive the same standard of training, no matter where they are based.
Continually Evaluate and Adjust
Continually evaluate the effectiveness of your program and track the progress of your learners so that you can make necessary adjustments and improvements. This flexibility is key for scaling your program, as your business direction or the needs of your partner network may change as you grow.
Implement key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the effectiveness of your partner program and make data-driven improvements. You can then use analytics to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions.
Acknowledge that your channel partner strategy will need to evolve. Stay agile, adapt to market changes, and be open to feedback from your partners to drive continuous improvement.
A well-defined and scalable channel partner strategy is a powerful tool for business growth. By setting clear objectives and following these steps, you can not only increase the number of channel partnerships you have, but also increase the effectiveness of those partnerships and expand into new markets.
Be sure to check out our channel partner training LMS to support your partner program, as it features unique translation tools, 24/7 access to resources and much more.