September 09, 2021

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 (& how to profit from them).


What is Partner Channel Management?

Partner channel management, otherwise known as channel partnership, is the process of building and managing relationships with the right channel partners throughout the partner lifecycle. 

It is a strategic business partnership with relevant partners, who in turn promote your business, refer new customers, and resell your product. They receive a commission on every product purchased or a discounted price.

Partner channel management is an indirect sales model for any business because it mandates third parties to drive traffic and sales to your business to increase profits. A partnership can be freely entered with either distributors, resellers, agencies, etc.

Managing channel partners is very crucial because a one-size-fits-all approach is not always productive. It is the process of ensuring that the right partner channel is collaborated with, a custom solution is adopted, and the appropriate partner management strategy is deployed.

This partnership model enables business owners to plan and implement sales strategies through the adoption of several sales channels. Similarly, it enables you to measure your partner's progress vis-à-vis laid down goals.

5 Rules To Managing Channel Partners 

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

Create a Partner Plan 

Prior to commencing channel partnership, it is important to have a well-drafted partner plan on how to handle channel partners. A custom-made channel strategy is more relevant because every business product has a peculiar strategy that works better. 

A suitable strategy can be identified by asking yourself questions such as:

  • Who is the targeted audience? 

  • Why should I enter a partnership?

  • Which method suits my product? And a lot more. 

Having a well-defined partner plan has a big role to play in identifying appropriate channel partners. 

Meanwhile, remember to execute a formal assessment of prospective channel partners to assure that they have the capacity and understand the process before sealing an agreement. This will help in measuring your progress with the partner and managing channel partners.

Defining your metrics at the initial stage is another noteworthy step that must be prioritized when creating a partner plan. This also enables you to measure your partner’s capability.

It’s instructive to ensure that your partners have the requisite management skills directed toward your scoring model. The performance target indices will guide you in the course of rewarding your channel partners.

Strong and Clear Communication

To have a successful channel partnership, strong and clear communication on how to handle channel partners is vital. Good communication is the foundation upon which a smooth-sailing partnership is built. 

You can transfer or relay vital information about your product to the partners in a clear manner. This enables your partners to promote your product according to the vision and mission of the business. 

In a channel partner, communication provides you the opportunity to explain to your partners what you stand for and what your needs are. This not only facilitates the actualization of your goals but also enables you to identify the most suitable channel partner.

Avoid making assumptions that your channel partners already know your needs; sensitize them on the ins and outs of your business. Do not hesitate to bring your partners up to speed on your business. 

Give your partners the freedom to air their views on issues around your business. This often brings about valuable contributions helpful to your business as well as stimulates progressive channel partnerships. Above all, bridge the communication gap as much as possible.

Establish Mutual Goals 

There is no way your business goal will be advanced if your partner’s goal is contradictory. Unless your partner understands your goal and is interested to key into it, do not enter a channel partnership with him/her.  

Reel out your goals to the intending partners at the initial stage and discuss how they will be achieved. Through this medium, you will be able to establish if you are on the same page or not. 

The key to a successful managing channel partners is to establish mutual goals. One easy way to instigate this mindset among your partners is to make sure that the partnership works for all parties.

It should be a non-zero-sum arrangement for everyone involved, that is, a win-win situation. This will motivate your partners to exert utmost diligence and focus on your task.

Knowing that successful marketing and sales are anchored on the shared objective of growing revenue and mutual insights, it is important to avail your partners of the opportunity to contribute to the company particularly when crucial decisions are to be made.

Partners in the sales category can speak on the quality of the leads and what should be improved upon. Similarly, partners in marketing can provide information on key performance indicators (KPIs) and emerging promotional opportunities. These will promote cordial relationships directed towards mutual goals. 

A Proper Onboarding process 

One of the effective ways of managing channel partners is to execute a at inception. Onboarding is the process of introducing and familiarizing new partners with your business. This deals with organizing proper training for your partners on your products. 

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

Channel partners are bound to be counterproductive or misleading if they don’t have a thorough understanding of the company and its mission. You should initiate a holistic onboarding plan that will familiarize your partners with what you stand to achieve and what they are expected to do. 

The onboarding process is not a one-and-done task. It is an endless process and must be treated as such. As regards how to handle channel partners, regular and periodic training should be incorporated into your onboarding plan.

Training and retraining are important since your products will surely transform with the emergence of innovations for them to stand out.

The process has to be strategic and methodological to achieve the desired result. Channel partners should not be trained in a hazy manner to imbibe and digest your company and its vision. A complete onboarding methodology takes several months until the partner is fully ingrained with your business and products. 

Use a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) Tool 

To keep tabs on how to handle channel partners, it is essential to adopt an effective partner relationship management (PRM) tool. This makes the partnership process easy and efficient for both parties.

A PRM is software with default features containing functionalities peculiar to a product. For instance, if a channel partnership demands a license renewal feature, then by default it is required on the software to guide channel partners in enrolling individuals wanting to renew their licenses. 

Other features generally contained in the software include onboarding, rewards/incentives, partner management, and others. There are numerous PRM tools in the market owing to the increasing expansion of indirect sales channels. 

5 Rules To Managing Channel Partners
An infographic detailing the 5 rules to managing channel partners

Of these, one of the most reliable PRM tools for managing channel partners is Kiflo partner relationship management (PRM) software.

Kiflo builds your partner ecosystem in a fast and efficient manner through the use of modern PRM software specifically designed for small and medium businesses (SMBs). Its state-of-the-art PRM software meant for SMBs has full coverage containing affiliate, referral, and reseller partners. 

Despite the varied innovative services contained in Kiflo PRM such as easy-to-use features and management of multiple partnerships via a single unit, it is affordable with starting at $149/month.

How a PRM Helps You With Partner Channel Management 

The role of a reliable partner relationship management (PRM) tool in managing channel partners is crucial as it aids a progressive channel sales environment. 

A standard PRM software promotes a hitch-free partner program management not just via a transparent campaign, lead management, and onboarding, but also certification control, product information, and secure access. The PRM tool is often automated with the onboarding materials which gives partners the privilege to learn at their convenient time and preferred speed. 

However, the PRM tool helps you to get your partners fully accustomed to the company and its mission if they have access to a searchable library to consult when issues are unclear to them. 

PRM plays a significant effect in how to handle channel partners, particularly when partner conflict arises. In a channel partnership without the use of a PRM tool, two or more partners may register the same person without knowing, potentially leading to a  partner conflict.

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A PRM tool, conversely, restricts partners from enrolling the same person as the system update notifies the pre-registry. This is achievable by integrating your PRM with your customer relationship management (CRM).

Kiflo PRM software is the ideal solution for small and medium businesses looking for partners that will scale up their profit and revenue.

See the difference Kiflo makes in your partner relationship management efforts with powerful Deal Registration

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Channel Partner Management?

Channel Partner Management (CPM) is the process of entering an agreement with third parties for the promotion of your business to increase sales and profits. Managing channel partners is an indirect sales where partners are proportionally compensated. Factors to be considered in selecting the right partners include relationship life cycles, partner sales goals, partners capacity, lead generation, among others.

How do you manage a channel partnership?

A channel partnership can be easily managed by creating a partner plan. This implies having a well-drafted partner plan will guide your relationship with partners, for instance—by defining your metrics. A reliable partner relationship management (PRM) tool eases the handling of channel partners. Kiflo partner relationship management (PRM) software is worthy of recommendation as it is cheap, easy-to-use, and allows for the management of multiple partnerships via a single unit.

What makes a good channel partner?

The irreducible standards of a good channel partner include being in the same niche as your business. For instance, if your product is telephone hardware, you should consider telephone companies as partners instead of someone in the home appliances. A background review of the intending partner will reveal the technical fitness and capacity to handle your task.

How do channel partners work?

Channel partnership is an agreement between a business owner and third parties for promotional services. Based on the agreement, the third parties receive commission by the volume of sales generated through the promotion. While a channel partner is expected to sell products on behalf of a business owner, it is duty-bound on the business owner to reward the channel partner proportionally.

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