If you have pondered on this decision, you’ve probably asked yourself these 3 questions:
Is my company at the right stage to run a partner program?
Do I have the time and resources needed?
What do I need to know before launching?
Let’s dig deeper to find out the answers.
A company can never be too small to run a program. The whole idea behind such a program is leveraging the size and strength of other companies to grow your own. If you are a small business, you may have even more flexibility to be able to work with big players in your industry to access new audiences. Since financial investment is minimal, there is no prerequisite in terms of size.
Setting up a partner program takes a certain amount of time. So, most entrepreneurs find themselves weighing the pros and cons of this time investment. For your program to be successful, your partners must understand your solution, its benefits, and the value it could have for their customers. Depending on the type of partnership, you may need to train your partners on how to identify the right kind of leads or even teach them how to take customers through the sales cycle.
So, is it worth spending time on this? The short answer: yes!
An individual has a fixed number of hours in the day. This limits the number of leads he can generate or sales he can make in a day. Thus, if you were to restrict your growth to direct sales and lead gen, you would be able to tap into a limited segment of the market. To increase this reach, you would need to hire more people. You would then need to spend more money training them and your monthly outgoings in terms of salaries would increase.
In the case of a sales partner program, you can get more people selling or creating awareness around your product without having to hire new people. Your training expenses too would be lower. Most partner programs run on commissions and so you would need to make payments only for confirmed sales.
In short, irrespective of the time and resources available to you, setting aside a part of that to build a partner program is always a good idea. It is better to train 10 partners who you can work with on commission rather than have to hire 10 full-time employees.
Running a successful partner program is not just about signing an agreement. Such a program can be successful only when you know how to choose the right partners and engage them effectively. Thus, before you start on this journey, there are a few things you should know about your own company.
The ideal partner is one who has an audience of your ideal customers. To determine whether a partnering company’s audience is right for you or not, you should have a well-defined target audience of your own. If you don’t know your target audience, starting a partner program may not have the intended effect.
For someone to be able to sell your solution, they must know its benefits and selling points. This means you must have a clear value proposition. You must be able to tell your partners how the product will benefit customers and what value it will add to their lives. If you do not have a clear understanding of this, it is better to wait a while before starting your partner program. Else, you may have a hard time finding partners if they do not see the clear value of your product.
Every partner program starts with a few objectives. You need to define performance indicators that will help you measure success. This means you must keep track of the leads generated, the percentage converted, deals, commissions, payouts, etc. Since you will probably have multiple partners, maintaining this data on an excel sheet or by tweaking your CRM is not a very smart move. You will spend more time doing administrative tasks than growing your partner network. Instead, you should have access to partner management software. Specifically designed for SMBs, Kiflo is a great partner relationships management software that can help you do this. With this software, it becomes easier to maintain open communication channels with all your partners and manage your partnerships effectively.
A partner program is a great way for businesses of all sizes to grow and reach their full potential. All you need to do is make sure you have your bases covered in terms of knowing your product and are willing to invest your resources towards building such a program. Today, partner programs are used by multinationals like Microsoft and Oracle as well as B2B and B2C startups.
Here’s a success story to inspire you—Appland, a Swedish mobile app distribution platform went from having 10 B2B customers in 2015 to signing deals with more than 100 of the world’s biggest telecom operators in 2018 as a result of their partner program.
Will your story be one to inspire tomorrow’s entrepreneurs?