Updated: Mar 27
If you are reading this blog post, you are obviously interested in learning about channel partners - who they are and why you should consider starting a channel partner program as you develop your Go-To-Market Plan. But before we do that, let’s first quickly understand what Channel Partnership is.
What does a Channel Partnership mean ?
A channel partnership is an alliance that is forged between two organizations with the mutual goals of growth. It is an agreement between your company and another to sell and market your technology, product or service. Your channel partner can be a - reseller, vendor, service provider, retailer or an agency.
Developing a channel partner program is table stakes for businesses these days, no matter what stage your company is in. It’s the only way to scale without adding expenses in terms of financial costs and human resources.
Benefits of developing channel partnerships
Every business with a solid sales and marketing plan or a GTM strategy relies on various direct channels such as - email, social media, website, advertising, sales reps etc. to grow their revenue. But to scale and expand further, they must leverage indirect channels such as third party vendors.
Here are some benefits of building a channel alliances -
Increased Brand Trust
New market penetration
Greater Visibility - If you are looking to get in front of new customers (think lead generation), an alliance with an established partner can help you gain brand awareness. You could tap into their existing customer base.
Increased Brand Trust - Customers today rely more on indirect sources than direct channels such as sales reps when evaluating vendors. Partnering with recognized and trusted brands can help elevate their trust in your brand.
Competitive advantage - The right partnerships can help you gain competitive advantage by providing you capabilities that your competition may not have.
New Market Penetration - If you are thinking of expanding into new markets, collaborating with an existing vendor in that geography can help you expand and gain customers quickly and easily versus if you had to do it by yourself.
Types Of Channel Partners
There are various kinds of potential businesses you can partner with but not everyone is right for you. Depending upon your business goals and needs, you have to carefully select the ones with whom you can develop mutually beneficial relationships with. That’s right, this alliance isn’t a one way street where you get to reap all the benefits, healthy partnerships result in bringing value to both.
Sometimes I get asked if partners are your employees. They aren’t. They stay independent and with the help of an agreement the working arrangement is formalized. Payments can vary from Commissions, Fees to Revenue Share.
Let’s review them -
1.Technology Partners - Technology partnerships are built when two tech vendors with complimentary services that are integratable, get together. Your product can integrate seamlessly with theirs and vice versa. Data flows bidirectionally and the end user gets a more holistic experience. For example - If you are an ecommerce technology company, you can partner with a digital experience vendor, to offer customers a commerce plus content solution, allowing them to create engaging, shoppable experiences.
2.Solution Partners - Customer needs and expectations are constantly evolving. Today, they expect personalization. In order to offer customized solutions, a collaborative partnership between a service provider and a technology vendor is forged. For example if you are an agency or consulting business helping customers create ecommerce experiences and innovate, a partnership with an ecommerce platform provider can help you offer expanded offerings while helping you save cost and go to market faster.
3.Value-added Resellers - As the name suggests, Channel resellers resell your technology, product or service. They help increase your sales volume by taking your technology, adding profit and reselling to end users. They could operate nationally, in a particular geographic area or be industry focused.
4.White Label Partners - These are vendors that take your technology solution and brand it as their own when selling it to the customers.
5.Systems Integrators - System Integrators bring value to their customers by combining technologies from various vendors. They combine software, hardware, storage and networking products and build complex systems for large enterprises. If integrators are using legacy systems, it could be especially useful for them to tie up with vendors that have cutting edge technology, in order to provide superior solutions at scale.
6.Cloud Service Partners - Looking to deliver a reliable technology solution to end users, a cloud service provider such as Google Cloud Services can help you do the same in an efficient way. By hosting your solution in the Cloud, you are able to scale your offerings while providing your customers with improved speed, flexibility and security.
7.Managed Service Partners - Sometimes end users don’t want to deal with the tasks of managing and maintaining their systems and infrastructure. They’d rather have a partner do it. This is where Managed Service Providers come into the picture. They handle the administrative and technical aspects freeing end users from aspects such as implementation etc. on an ongoing basis.
8.Alliance Partners - Alliance Partners earn referral fee when they refer a customer to you. Usually they would place your link on their website and every time a customer clicks and orders, they get paid.
Examples of Channel Partners
Here, I am going to show you how Ecommerce Technology Businesses are utilizing their partner ecosystem to drum up sales.
1.Fabric - Partnered with Integrators, Technology and Solution Providers
2.Big Commerce - Partners range from Agency, Technology to Affiliates
Now that you know various kinds of Channel partners that you can tie up with, let's look at what you need to keep in mind while building a successful channel sales strategy.