Best Practices for Partner Recruitment
As we all know, having the right channel partners will not only help in generating revenue but also improve your marketing campaigns and help you reach new markets. However, finding and recruiting a channel partner could be difficult.
Casting a wide net to gather a group of partners might work, but you'll have a greater chance if you have a strategy for finding the ideal channel partner.
In this article, we’ll share some of the best practices that will enable you to recruit like a pro.
What is the Goal of Partner Recruitment?
The benefits of a strong partner program speak for themselves; strong partnerships are collaborative and generative, and create new revenue opportunities for everyone involved. The goal of partner recruitment is to bring in the most synergistic partnerships for your organization.
This process will vary depending on the types of partners you aim to recruit. Whether you’d like to attract more partners for your affiliate, referral, or reseller programs, recruitment is an essential step in this process. For example, you can recruit partners to expand brand awareness and reach (affiliates), partners to assist and feed your sales team (referrals), and partners to expand your market reach (resellers). The more you fine-tune your recruitment strategy and build your partner program, the likelier you are to find partners that are the perfect fit.
By approaching this stage of the partner lifecycle with intention and a mind toward best practices, you can ensure success for your business and partnership program.
Best Practices for Recruiting Partners
There are many best practices for recruiting partners. Your unique approach will depend on your goals, and there are a few steps you can take to ensure a smooth partner recruitment process.
Create Your Ideal Partner Persona First
Before you start the recruitment process, you need to create your Ideal Partner Persona (IPP). This stage in the process is tremendously important because it can help save you time and money. This will also help you make meaningful, quality connections with potential partners who share similar goals and values. By clarifying your IPP, you can find partners who are relevant to your business goals.
A clearly defined profile will support your recruitment efforts because you’ll know which companies to target. Some factors you might want to consider are:
- Company type/industry
- Company size
- Point of contact
Remember, this is an ongoing process and you may not get it perfect the first time. That’s okay! Over time, and with more data, you’ll have a clearer picture of exactly what kind of partner you are looking for and how to reach them.
Know Where to Recruit Partners
So, you have your Ideal Partner Persona defined and mapped out. Now what? You’ll need to know where to connect with companies that match your IPP. Finding places to recruit partners needn’t be a Herculean task—you can even begin with a simple Google search. You can use your IPP to generate relevant keywords. Save time by using a website scraping tool to export data from articles that pertain to your Ideal Partner Persona.
You can also take a look at your competitors’ partner directories. This can give you a sense of vetted companies to give you an idea of potential partners.
Finally, you can use LinkedIn to search for potential partner companies. Take advantage of the world’s largest professional network to find companies that align with your IPP. It’s possible to filter searches based on keywords, location, industry, and company size. Track this data using a LinkedIn automation tool like ProspectIn. Keeping track of your findings will help you stay organized in the recruitment process and build your own database of potential partners for immediate and future use!
Communicate Your Value
Once you identify companies that match your IPP, you’ll want to identify a Point of Contact (POC). Reach out with a short, direct, and personal message in order to initiate the conversation.
Keeping these initial messages concise and to the point will encourage a direct response. Before reaching out, take some time to draft a customizable partnership pitch template you can use for reaching out to a variety of leads. In your pitch, and subsequent conversations during the recruitment process, you’ll want to:
- Communicate the value of partnering with you
- Show them they can sell more services or products alongside yours
- Demonstrate how your joint value proposition can help them make more sales
- Articulate the value that the commission could bring them
By focusing on the value that partnering with you will bring to their company, you show them that you are invested in their success as well. This will inspire good faith, and encourage them to partner with you.
Display Your Professionalism
Throughout the recruitment process, you’ll want to convey your professionalism through written and visual means. Potential partners want to know that you’re the real deal! Your professionalism will inspire trust and encourage them to work with you. Here are some keys to maintaining that professional appearance:
Using a consistent, professional tone and appearance will help potential partners trust you from the get-go.
Select Compatible Partners
Remember, cultivating a lucrative partnership is an investment. These partnerships don’t happen overnight; they take time to grow. A seed needs the right conditions to blossom into a flower.
As such, be selective with your partnerships. You don’t need to move ahead with every partnership application that comes your way. Take the time to make sure the potential partner meets your IPP and feels like a good fit. Choosing compatible partners for you will maximize your revenue.
Consider how you will evaluate potential partner compatibility. For example, Vidyard assesses partner applications using five pieces of criteria: commercial compatibility, cultural compatibility, strategic compatibility, technical compatibility, and operational compatibility. Think about what criteria make sense for your context, and design an assessment process that will help you find the perfect fit.
Be Responsive and Engaged
From your first message to the onboarding process, the interactions you share with your partners can set the stage for its entire lifecycle. Model the level of engagement you’d like to see from them. Show them you care by being available, responsive, and engaged. Answer their questions, and respond in a timely manner. Showing this level of engagement will help motivate them to be engaged as well.
The 80/20 rule, or, Pareto’s Principle, states that 20% of your partners drive 80% of your leads, while the remaining 80% of partners drive 20% of your leads. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a hard and fast rule. The landscape of your particular partnership ecosystem can look different! You can increase partner engagement by showing up fully from the beginning. If you do not show your partner you are engaged in the partnership then they won’t be either. The beginning stages are incredibly important because they will set the tone for the partnership.
Specify Your Goals and Expectations
Along with being responsive, you have to be open and honest from the beginning about your own goals and objectives. What do you want to accomplish together? How will you hold each other accountable? Explain what you have to offer the relationship and be prepared to address any questions they may have. Be concise and state the ground rules clearly.
This transparency will reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings and disputes in the partnership. In addition, your ability to do business will be enhanced by knowing each other's brand identity and financial goals.
Onboard and Enable Your Partners
If you thought that was the end, you couldn't be more wrong. To develop new partnerships and establish that crucial trust (which ultimately produces ROI) partner success depends on a great onboarding and enablement strategy.
It's better to have a dedicated "enablement team" made up of key stakeholders. These teams not only help with planning, but also need to ensure that partners are properly trained, understand the value proposition, have the right sales tools, communicate effectively with prospects, and can participate in strategic customer planning.
All of this not only sharpens the accountability of your sales staff, but also fosters a relationship of trust with partners and provides evidence of the value proposition. If you skip this stage of the process, you risk attracting partners who can go months without even signing onto your partner portal.
Also, concentrate on selecting partners who will function well with your ecosystem before onboarding, training, and enabling them. It is simple to sign up a large number of partners without qualifying them, but effective recruitment continues beyond sign-up. What follows determines how things turn out financially. Instead of one-time deals, you want partners that will generate consistent revenue.
Key Questions to Consider When Using Partner Recruitment Best Practices
There are some key questions that you and your team can ask internally in order to shape your partner recruitment strategy that includes best practices.
Asking these questions and continuing to reflect on the process and outcomes will support you in finetuning your partner recruitment program.
Partner recruitment is extremely important. Without recruitment, you won’t onboard new partners. It’s also important to recruit more partners because this allows you to improve your partner persona and understand who works well with you. This will, in turn, make your recruiting strategy even more efficient.
Developing a strong recruiting strategy and a consistent, professional style of communication will help you succeed in this process.
As for that 80/20 rule? Well, you can increase the number of active partners by using a PRM platform. A PRM platform, like Kiflo, supports partner engagement through streamlined onboarding, measurable goals and progress tracking, and so much more. This makes maintaining strong partner relationships easier and more time-efficient.