What’s the absolutely essential, can’t-live-without-it aspect of a successful channel partner program? Bet you thought we were going to say a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) solution! The real answer is more simple than that. Every channel program needs…partners.
You can’t have a partner program without recruiting. You can’t have a great one without recruiting great partners. But all too often, recruitment is done haphazardly. You should have an organized, proactive, and consistent plan in place. It’s going to make you much more alluring to potential partners, widen your pool of prospects, and make it easier to pick the right fits for your company. Here’s where to start:
Get the word out. Partners are way more likely to be interested in hopping on board – and may even come to you themselves – if they already know about your company. So spread the word. Shout it from the rooftops. Get your name out there as much as possible: on social media, at industry events, through networking and so on. When your company has good news, share it through social media posts and press releases. Don’t be shy about letting people know you’re looking for great partners.
Promote your company’s growth on social platforms – it will show potential partners that your star is on the rise, and plant the idea that they should probably hitch themselves to it. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a great motivator. If you demonstrate that your company – and team – are on the road to success, partners are going to want to join the ride.
Reputations speak louder than words. The word on the street has a direct impact on the perception of potential partners. If you’ve got a bad reputation, you’re likely also going to have a problem recruiting partners. Who’s going to want to partner with a company that has a reputation for disorganization, unfairness, or negativity? Focus on being positive, open, and prepared during the recruitment and onboarding process: organization and clarity is a great first impression. Take a good look at your partner program and make sure it’s worth a partner’s time and effort. Give them the opportunity to make money, but also have the training, support and resources in place to make their job easy. Building a reputation as being partner-friendly is a great way to keep partners coming, and staying.
Be prepared when potential partners come to you. An absolutely perfect partner cold calls you and wants to know more. What do you do next? A good recruitment plan will include a tried-and-true process for relaying information to incoming partners. Make sure all those involved in welcoming potential partners know the structure of your partner program, can sell all its best points and can pass a prospect on to the next step of onboarding.
Understand who your perfect partner is. So your pool of prospects is now growing. Do you know how to pick from it? The best way is to develop an understanding of what partners work best for your company. Look at past and current successful partners. What do they have in common? Examine their market, their location, their customer base. Then think about resources, time commitment and engagement. Create a list of a number of these attributes, and create an ideal partner profile (IPP).
Learn to say no. Be selective. When potential partners come onto your radar screen, analyze how they fit against your IPP. You may have to do some digging or ask some questions to figure out just how well they fit. Only accept partners into your program that are a match.
Being selective means accepting the uncomfortable reality that you’re going to have to say no sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with this – turning away poorly-suited partners is going to be best for both of you in the long run. The end goal of any recruitment plan is to attract a pool of prospects big enough that you can start accepting only the best of the best, resulting in a consistent channel partner dream team.
1. Promote your growth
2. Work on building a good reputation
3. Develop an IPP
4. Be picky