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5 Rules For Managing Channel Partners Effectively

Many companies fail to achieve successful partnerships due to a lack of consistency. Read on to learn the 5 golden rules for managing channel partners and how you can profit from them.
5 Effective Rules for Managing Channel Partners
Published on
September 9, 2021

What is Channel Partner Management?

Channel Partner Management (CPM), also referred to as channel partnership, is a strategic process that involves cultivating and overseeing relationships with suitable channel partners over the course of their partner lifecycle. These partners play a major role by endorsing your business, referring new customers, and reselling your products or services, often earning commissions or discounts in return.

CPM operates as an indirect sales model, relying on third parties like distributors, resellers, and agencies to drive traffic and boost sales for your business, ultimately leading to increased profits. The diversity of potential partners, such as distributors, resellers, and agencies, allows for flexibility in forming these partnerships.

Effectively managing channel partners is essential because a uniform, one-size-fits-all approach may not cater to the specific needs of each partner. It entails careful selection of the right channel partners, customization of solutions to meet partner needs, and the deployment of an appropriate partner management strategy.

This partnership model empowers business owners to strategize and execute sales plans using multiple sales channels. Furthermore, it provides a means to evaluate partner progress and performance in relation to predefined goals, allowing for ongoing optimization of the partnership strategy.

5 Rules To Managing Channel Partners

Effective management of channel partnerships is crucial to achieving desired results. The following five rules will guide you:

Create a Partner Plan

Before embarking on a channel partnership, it's crucial to establish a meticulously crafted partner plan that outlines how you intend to engage and manage your channel partners. A tailored channel strategy is paramount because each business product demands a unique approach for optimal success.

Determining an appropriate strategy involves asking fundamental questions, such as who your target audience is, the reasons for pursuing a partnership, and which methods best align with your product's characteristics. A well-defined partner plan plays a pivotal role in identifying the right channel partners for your business.

Furthermore, it's essential to conduct a formal assessment of prospective channel partners during the onboarding process to ensure they possess the capacity and understanding necessary to participate effectively in the partnership. This assessment serves as a critical step in gauging your collaborative progress and managing your relationships with these third parties.

Additionally, when formulating your partner plan, it's imperative to define your metrics early on. This proactive approach allows you to establish clear benchmarks for evaluating your partner's performance and capabilities.

To drive success in your channel partnership, it's advisable to confirm that your partners possess the requisite management skills aligned with your scoring model. Your performance target indices will serve as guiding principles when it comes to rewarding and incentivizing your channel partners for their contributions to mutual growth.

Strong and Clear Communication

Clear communication is an inevitable cornerstone for establishing and maintaining a thriving channel partnership. It serves as the bedrock upon which a harmonious and fruitful collaboration with third parties is built.

One of the key benefits of robust communication lies in its ability to facilitate the seamless transmission of vital information about your products or services to your channel partners. This clarity empowers your partners to promote your offerings in alignment with your business's vision and mission, ensuring a cohesive and consistent message reaches your target audience.

Within the context of a channel partnership, communication offers you the opportunity to articulate your company's core values and specific needs. By doing so, you not only pave the way for your objectives to be realized but also gain insights into identifying the most suitable channel partners who can align with your goals.

It's paramount to avoid making assumptions that your channel partners automatically grasp your requirements. Instead, take proactive steps to familiarize them with the specifics of your business. By providing comprehensive insights and regular updates, you ensure that your partners are well-informed and aligned with your evolving business landscape.

Furthermore, promoting an environment where your channel partners feel empowered to voice their opinions and perspectives on matters pertaining to your business fosters a culture of collaboration and innovation. These valuable contributions can lead to mutually beneficial enhancements and drive progress in your channel partnerships.

Above all, bridging the communication gap should be a continuous commitment. Establish clear rules of engagement and decision-making processes to maintain transparency and coherence within your channel partnership, ultimately nurturing a robust and enduring collaborative relationship.

Establish Mutual Goals

Achieving alignment between your business goals and those of your potential partners is paramount for the success of any channel partnership. If your partner's objectives contradict yours or if they fail to comprehend and support your goals, it's advisable to reconsider entering into the partnership.

At the outset of partner recruitment, transparently communicate your business goals to prospective partners and engage in discussions on how these objectives can be jointly realized. This early dialogue serves as a litmus test to gauge whether both parties are on the same page and share a mutual vision for success.

The key to effective channel partner management lies in the establishment of shared goals. Cultivating this mindset among your partners ensures that the partnership is designed to benefit all parties involved, creating a non-zero-sum arrangement where everyone can thrive. This win-win approach motivates your partners to invest their utmost diligence and commitment in achieving your collective objectives.

Recognizing that successful marketing and sales efforts hinge on the shared objective of revenue growth, it is imperative to actively involve your partners in critical decision-making processes. By soliciting their input, partners can provide valuable insights and feedback.

Sales partners can offer insights on lead quality and areas for improvement, while marketing partners can contribute insights on key performance indicators (KPIs) and emerging promotional opportunities. This collaborative approach fosters cordial relationships centered around mutual goals and drives the partnership toward success.

A Proper Onboarding process

Effectively managing channel partners requires the implementation of a comprehensive onboarding plan. Onboarding, in this context, involves the crucial process of introducing and acquiring new partners with your business. This entails not only providing in-depth training on your products but also establishing a profound understanding of your company's mission and values.

Get your partners off to a good start by creating an optimal onboarding process in Kiflo.

Failure to impart this foundational knowledge may lead to counterproductive or misleading actions on the part of your partners. Thus, it is imperative to initiate a holistic onboarding plan that not only outlines your organizational goals but also clearly defines the roles and responsibilities expected from your partners.

It's important to recognize that the onboarding process is not a one-time event but an ongoing and perpetual thing. To effectively address how to handle channel partners, it's essential to incorporate regular and periodic training sessions into your onboarding plan. These sessions are crucial because your products are likely to evolve with emerging innovations, and keeping your partners abreast of these changes is essential for them to excel in their roles.

Executing the onboarding process strategically and methodically is crucial to achieving the desired outcomes. The training should not be complicated or unclear; instead, it should provide partners with a comprehensive understanding of your company, its vision, and the products or services they will be representing. This complete onboarding methodology may extend over several months, ensuring that partners are fully immersed in your business and possess the knowledge and skills required for successful lead generation and collaboration.

Use a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) Tool

Properly managing channel partners demands the adoption of a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) tool, which streamlines and enhances the partnership process for both parties involved. PRM software is designed with default features tailored to specific product requirements, ensuring that the partnership operates smoothly and efficiently.

A PRM tool can be customized to accommodate various functionalities essential for a channel partnership. For example, if your partnership requires a license renewal feature, the software can seamlessly incorporate this function, guiding channel partners in enrolling individuals looking to renew their licenses.

An infographic detailing the 5 rules to managing channel partners

Additionally, PRM software typically includes a range of features such as comprehensive onboarding processes, rewards and incentives management, and partner relationship management capabilities, all of which contribute to the success of the partnership.

By selecting the most suitable PRM solution for your partner's needs, you can establish a streamlined framework for partner communication, collaboration, and lead generation, ultimately driving efficiency and success in your channel partnership endeavors.

Furthermore, PRM tools often facilitate partner feedback mechanisms, enabling you to continually refine your partnership strategy and better align with your partners' evolving needs and expectations.

How a PRM Helps You With Partner Channel Management

The presence of a PRM tool holds immense importance in effectively managing channel partners and fostering a dynamic and progressive channel sales environment. A well-rounded PRM software not only streamlines partner program management but also ensures transparency in campaign execution, lead management, and onboarding processes. Moreover, it offers vital functionalities like certification control, access to comprehensive product information, and secure access management.

One of the notable advantages of a standard PRM tool is its automation of onboarding materials, granting partners the flexibility to learn at their own pace and convenience. This self-paced learning approach empowers partners to get fully acquainted with your company's mission and values, ensuring they are well-prepared to represent your brand effectively.

Additionally, PRM tools provide partners with access to a searchable library of resources, which serves as a valuable reference point when questions or uncertainties arise. This readily accessible knowledge base empowers partners to navigate challenges independently, further reinforcing their understanding of your business.

PRM also plays a pivotal role in addressing partner conflicts, a common concern in channel partnerships. Without a PRM tool, situations can arise where multiple partners unintentionally register the same individual, potentially leading to conflicts. A well-implemented PRM tool circumvents such issues by restricting partners from enrolling the same person, with system updates providing timely notifications. Integration with your customer relationship management system enhances this functionality, promoting seamless coordination between partner and customer data.

Among the array of PRM tools available, Kiflo stands out as a dependable solution for managing channel partners. Kiflo excels in rapidly and efficiently building your partner ecosystem, specifically tailored for small and medium businesses (SMBs). Its state-of-the-art PRM software encompasses a wide range of partner types, including affiliates, referrals, and resellers, making it an ideal choice for SMBs seeking to maximize profit and revenue through strategic partner collaboration.

Furthermore, Kiflo's PRM software offers the essential tools and resources needed to effectively manage channel partners, promote growth, and achieve mutual success in the dynamic world of indirect sales channels. It not only streamlines partner management but also facilitates partner feedback mechanisms, ensuring that your partnership strategy remains adaptable and responsive to partner needs and evolving market dynamics.

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