Live Webinar | Standardization Sells: Don't Let Your Clients Bully You | 5 October 2022
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Build Your Reseller Partner Program for Success - Webinar Takeaways and Summary

What do companies like Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, and eBay have in common?

They’ve all built successful reseller programs to increase sales and revenue and build strong, long-lasting relationships with their clients. 

 

Creating successful reseller programs isn’t easy. It takes time, effort, and strategic planning. 

Learn how to set up your reseller program for success in this webinar. You’ll discover how to:

  • Identify and recruit the potential best resellers for your product offering.
  • Build a powerful partner onboarding strategy.
  • Define the roles of internal stakeholders across the partner journey.
  • Increase partner engagement and optimize customer touchpoints.
  • Create partnership incentives and reward systems.

Key Takeaways

Finding and Recruiting Potential Resellers for your Product Offering

Resellers tangibly affect your long-term and short-term revenue standpoints. Who are these resellers? These are your typical SaaS resellers, SI partners, Referral partners, and CX and EX consultants in the technology space.

The goal at Yellow.ai is to bring pipeline from partners. They're dealing with geographies where they don't have field sales. Finding and recruiting new partners depends on the product that you have and the goal of the company. The goal may be to expand it to new geographies, work with your existing sales guys to bring in more revenue, or get system integrator support. You must fix the goal. 

Yellow.ai has a mix of all three across. Depending on which geography expects what partner to deliver, they narrow down a list to target partners they will work on. Yellow.ai is in the total automation space -  typically customer conversation automation and employee engagement. 

Approaching reseller recruitment - Quantity vs. Quality 

If the product is simple to understand, you can work with more partners and have Quantity over Quality. This is because you’ll have to get the name out as announcing these partnerships regularly in the market helps you. For products that are slightly complex to understand, where you can’t just push off a link, you need to work in a targeted way - so Quality over Quantity. Invest more time researching which partner to target and how to convince them. Instead of focusing on quantity, where you get a database, blast an email campaign and hope for people to respond. 

Further reading: Build and Scale your SaaS Partner Program

Onboarding New Partners

When you onboard a partner, typically, most companies have a dedicated team to work on onboarding, and then channel managers will work on onboarded partners. An excellent strategy to use here is to count partners as on-boarded only if they introduce you to at least one opportunity in the next 60 to 90 days. Thereby the onboarding manager will work on quality than quantity.

Working with your marketing team will yield better results if you’re targeting SMBs and have an easy-to-understand solution. Build crisp value propositions, maybe even a video, to let partners know what you are offering. Yellow.ai was able to onboard partners organically even without spending a dollar because they had marketing campaigns around ‘Partner with Us’

It's essential to narrow down a targeted partner list depending on the goals and timelines you'll have to achieve. Then create a value prop and send targeted messages. Post targeted questions to generate interest and discuss the ecosystems and the solutions partners work on. Anticipate and answer questions partners are going to ask. Partners appreciate the time you put into them. Even if they don’t partner immediately, there is always a possibility of working in the future. 

Spend 7-10 minutes pitching. Don't pitch your product; talk more about the partner program - why they should partner with you and how you can both win. Give them 15 to 20 minutes to interact with you and ask more questions so you can analyze whether the partnership is a right fit. 

Winning Over The Competition

Instead of talking about features and use cases, talk about the support your partners will get from you. Say things like - we challenge that we can provide 24X7 support. We have a dedicated product manager who sits with our partners. 

Find out the partner’s forte and what ecosystem they are a part of and educate them more on that. It’s also okay to name existing VCs, investors, and the most prominent customer testimonials to build trust. 

Sometimes partners won’t be confident that your product will work in the market. In those cases, try and introduce them to your other partners and customers. Bring in opportunities that require attention to cultural and language nuances and persuade partners to take them up. For example, bring a german partner, a german opportunity. Six out of seven partners will be happy to discuss with you what you get to the table because they will make money upfront. 

Defining Internal Stakeholder Responsibility

Before starting a partner program, try to understand who are the crucial or internal stakeholders that will come across the entire partner journey and where they interact with you. You will have to get alignment across those internal stakeholders because you will pass on specific work where you need their involvement. This means this has to be part of their OKR or their manager has to approve their work. So sit with your internal teams - direct sales, marketing, legal, and map responsibilities early on.

Partner-sourced Opportunities and Lead Sharing with Partners

For most organizations starting with a partner program, partner-sourced pipeline, or the partner bringing in opportunities will be your north star metric. Your channel manager needs to work with channel partners to prospect for you. 

Although, let’s say if it’s a non-English speaking market and you don't have anyone speaking the language, of course, if you're generating leads, you'll have to pass it to the partners. It's best to understand what the partner's capabilities are. Find out if the partner has enough bandwidth to handle outbound as well. You must work bi-directional, i.e., you give and expect them to do prospecting. If not, the partners will expect leads from you. Partners should know how to position you in the market, work with you, take MDF from you and work on marketing on their own.

Motivating Partners to Send More Leads

If it’s a disengaged partner, figure out what is not helping them. It may be because of a conflict between the direct sales team, in that case, set up boundaries or targeted account books. Or it is maybe because the sales cycle is long - if so, is it longer, or is there an issue with the sales cycle? A channel manager must understand, analyze, and educate the partner so that you can pull them back and keep them invested. 

Another way to motivate partners is by offering them commissions. You can typically do this in three ways:

  1. Pass some MDFs with those partners to create co-marketing campaigns showing them that you are interested in generating leads for them. Use this strategy with only those active partners who cannot identify opportunities for you.
  2. Celebrate small wins. The closure is something that will happen after, say, six months or eight months. Meanwhile, you will have to keep the partners motivated with small wins. For example, set up SPIFFs or try to give sales guys a $50 or $100 coupon if they're getting you any introductions or meetings, or to someone who brings in the maximum meetings or something like that.
  3. Focus on your sales enablement. The partner may be active but unable to sell because there is a problem in how they understand your product or how they're positioning it. Align them with product certifications and training. You can even do a fun quiz over cocktails where they are motivated to learn about the product. Use the same cadence for partner enablement training as internal sales training.

Manage and forecast when working with resellers

When you're managing resellers, one of the biggest challenges is that we have no idea what they are working on at any time. When getting into forecast meetings with our CXOs, we often have to depend on what partners tell us, whether on email, monthly calls, weekly calls, or until a purchase order comes through. And so we're trying to change the entire landscape at Zomentum by providing SaaS vendor partnership teams the visibility and transparency into every opportunity that partners are working on. So you can forecast predictably month-on-month. 

To forecast accurately, you need to have CRM adherence. You should know what opportunities your partners are working on so that you can plug that in inside your CRM so that your field sales teams do not work on the same opportunities. When you involve your partners weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, ensure that while partners target new accounts, they also tell you the probability of closure for those accounts. Start asking them to keep a note. Try to understand where they are in the sales cycle and when they are closing those opportunities. 

Collectively when you work with 10-15 partners, you will understand that probably 3-4 partners are the ones who will work well with you while the rest are half here, half there. You will gradually get that predictability with those top 3-4 partners. Start tiering partners based on results. Start a predictable pipeline based on those 3-4 partners and probably have a 10 -15% buffer with the long tail partners. 

Setting Metrics and Targets for a Reseller Program

There are two ways of looking at metrics for a reseller partner program:

  1. Partner onboarding: If a partner can bring an opportunity within 60 to 90 days, then that partner is considered a genuine partner onboarded in your ecosystem. This way, the onboarding manager also puts a lot of effort into researching and targeting the right partners.
  2. For channel managers look at two key KPIs
    a. Number of meetings that a partner brings to the table
    b. Revenue-based targets.

Motivate Partners Using Incentives

The revenue sharing model for partner incentivization can take two forms - The commissions model and the Markup model. In the commission model, the partner sells your product and provides commissions based on the engagement. The second form is the markup model; you’ll sell the product to your partners, agreeing on pricing, and the partner will add their margins and sell it to the end customers. 

In a commission model, you realize the revenues and later give commissions. In the markup model, you agree on pricing, but the customer is willing to pay maybe 10-20% more than what you want to do. That's when you have an issue with if we are selling at the right pricing to our end customer. There could be a slight sales conflict there.

You can also set up SPIFFs, MDFs, partner certifications, and awards to incentivize partners. 

When do you need a PRM

It depends on the number of people in the organization and how you manage partners.

In your partner program, when it becomes operationally difficult for you to manage manually even though you have a big team size and your number of partners keeps increasing, and the volumes of opportunities coming from partners are also increasing, you need a PRM.

Choosing a PRM depends on where you are in your partner's journey and the revenue your partners are contributing to. Talking to your partners is vital before you decide on a PRM. Your partners must already be working with 3-4 vendors, each with their portals and PRMs, and they have to invest time and energy to come and register leads in each portal. 

Start understanding what your goals are for a PRM and what are the pain points that you face and then decide on whether you need a PRM or not. We have a wide variety of offerings from $500 to $5000 monthly. So it's totally up to you how you use the PRM, what value you derive, and what fits the bill. 

When working with a reseller partner, we must understand that they're working with 10-20 other vendors. Each of these vendors also has a partner portal. At some point, it just becomes another login for your partners, which is in line with partner portals' traditionally low consumption rates or adoption rates. Partners don't like to log in, and they want help directly from you. 

At Zomentum, we want to ensure that the partners can manage all the different vendors inside one platform. At heart, Zomentum is putting you at the center of all partner revenue-generating activities and ensuring you are not inconveniencing your partners by optimizing your metrics. Find out more. Get a Demo for PartnerAlign.