A reseller is a type of business partner that—as part of a program—will take your existing products or services and include them within their own sales process.
The primary goal of a reseller partner program is to increase the reach of your sales network by tapping into previously hard-to-reach parts of your target market.
But how do you ensure that a partner talks about your product or service in the right way, add that they don't water down the messaging behind it to sell more quickly?
It's important that—when designing a partner program for resellers—you take accountability, alignment on sales efforts, and partner/business benefits into account.
A reselling partner is a business that sells your products or services, marked with your brand, either under an "augmented" package, which includes their own services on top, or on a standalone basis with added support or responsibilities highlighted in their program.
The primary commitment of a reselling partner is to pitch your product to their existing audience in a way that's relevant and consistent with your messaging, any time that they can.
For most companies, the sales process is important because it sets the expectations of a customer upon purchase. When those expectations aren't met, customers will stop using and purchasing the product in 90%+ of cases, sometimes with negative word-of-mouth involved.
A reseller needs to take some of that expectation-setting workload off of your internal sales team and turn it into a value-added experience for potential customers.
Example: You've developed a web-based software suite and want to expand the reach of your sales efforts through reseller partnerships. The ideal solution for both parties is for the reseller to add additional services on top of your offering to: 1) lighten up the load on your support team, and; 2) provide additional margin on the reseller's end. It's a win-win scenario.
To create an effective program that fits both the needs of the reseller and your needs as a business, you need to come up with a strong business plan and back it up with proper deal registration and management practices. Although a partner program will save you time in the long term, it will take some effort and patience to get things to that point.
There are 3 foundational elements you have to consider before you implement a reseller program: 1) your long-term business objectives; 2) your ideal partners' objectives, and; 3) how points #1 and #2 come together to serve your ideal customer.
A partnership isn't about taking advantage of someone else's network to gain all the benefits and leave the reseller dried out of resources; it's the exact opposite.
The common goal in a partnership is to elevate one another in ways that would be impossible to achieve on your own. This means providing training, giving out regular benefits, and creating a sense of community around selling your products.
Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software like Kiflo helps with alleviating some of that training and alignment workload by providing a consistent partner experience.
Although your ideal reseller will be different from another business depending on what you sell, there are 7 clear steps you can take as a general "framework" around building a successful program. Here's how the process works:
Understand what your business objectives are and assign them a set timeline. Then, review that timeline based on the cycle you've chosen (monthly, quarterly, bi-quarterly, ...) Without this first step taken care of, nothing else will make sense in delivering value to your business.
Start building relationships with potential reseller partners manually and ask for feedback on what a program would look like. It's not smart to put all your resources into one basket if you don't know exactly what partners want, and how you can provide it to them.
Make it clear what partners can and cannot do when pitching your product or service. Use the experience of your internal sales team to create sound business plans and guidelines for your partners.
Start drafting all the documentation surrounding the reseller program, including business plans, benefits, partner onboarding processes, and how deal registration will carry out.
Have a few select "early bird" reseller partners go through the onboarding process to provide further feedback. Apply tweaks to the questions asked and materials provided during the process if necessary.
Integrate the idea of creating regular (and relevant) content into the reseller program to keep your partners engaged and let them know what's coming up and how that benefits them and their prospects.
Bring all of these elements together in an PRM software like Kiflo to manage your partner relationships and never lose sight of a deal.
It's important to keep these points flexible depending on your business model, however—as general guidance—they can help you move towards launching your partner program faster.
You shouldn't be afraid to iterate here. Testing and learning along the way are key to developing an efficient (and effective!) partner program specifically for your business.
To help you visualize what a reseller partner program looks like (often referred to as a "solutions" program), here are 3 examples from large businesses:
Reseller Program #1: The Solutions Partner Program from HubSpot
One of the most successful programs in B2B tech startup history, HubSpot's Solutions Partner Program is a great example of how integrating resellers within the product itself made it so much easier for them to understand what they were selling in the first place.
Of course, HubSpot is in the unique position of offering specifically a CRM tool to their customers, making it easy for partners to embrace HubSpot's culture and even enable entire companies that revolve around the Solutions Program.
That is how powerful the program really is.
A few things that make the program effective:
The product is outstanding and it gets better week in week out.
HubSpot provides continuous partner training in the form of "Academy" videos as well as early access to new features.
The lead registration process is effortless, and HubSpot has a dedicated team that ensures all deals are carried out fairly.
HubSpot offers clear "tiers" as part of their program (PDF), making it easy to understand what you get as a partner.
These elements combined make the step of entering HubSpot's world as a reseller worth it. Just jumping from the basic "Provider" tier to the "Partner" tier gets you 20% commissions for the entire lifetime of a subscription. Considering their prices, that's nothing to sneeze at.
Resellers then mark up what HubSpot has to offer with their own consulting services, making it an incredibly profitable deal on both ends: HubSpot gets an indirect salesforce that's spread out across multiple countries whereas the resellers get to pitch an amazing product that they can profit off of while delivering premium business consulting services.
Reseller Program #2: Microsoft's Solution Providers Program
Similar to HubSpot's reseller program, Microsoft's solutions partner network is a lot older and a lot larger, starting all the way back in 1992 and expanding to include all the newest Microsoft technologies.
Although the program isn't nearly as "intuitive" as HubSpot's, it achieved success through a strong effort from internal Microsoft representatives pushing their offerings outward and into organizations that would strongly benefit from reselling tech like Azure or Office 365.
Microsoft's program is powerful because of its extensive ramifications in the corporate world. So, to draw inspiration from their success, it's important to understand that the alignment of your internal sales team is crucial to increasing the performance of your indirect sales team.
What makes the program powerful is how the internal sales team at Microsoft is aware of the importance of letting partners "do their thing" while providing them with extensive first-hand training on new Microsoft apps. Alignment plus training equals great partner relationships.
Reseller Program #3: Asana's "Channel" Partner Program
The channel partner program from Asana is interesting because they provide a clear "pathway" on how to use certain partner services to unlock the capabilities of Asana on a large business scale.
It's a refreshing take that allows the prospect to understand what they're getting out of the $X of dollars they pay on a monthly basis to use the partner's services.
This gives both the end-user and the reselling partner the confidence to know that expectations are aligned and that there will be no guesswork during the sales process.
If the prospect isn't aware of the pathway, a partner can always redirect them to the appropriate resource and enhance the sales experience through Asana's content efforts.
To get started with your own program, take inspiration from bigger companies and implement what they do well that would work for your company as well.
You're not copying or "stealing" anything; just learning from those who did it before and avoiding any major mistakes along the way.
Turning a reseller partner program into a profit machine isn't an overnight process; it takes time and effort. But when you do pull it off, the benefits are immense, and they stay for the long term.
To build out a program that's profitable, the ability to analyze the effectiveness of certain partner tiers as well as the profits made on specific deals over a period of time is crucial.
Deal management is another area where PRM tools like Kiflo give you additional value, as it allows you to report on deal progression over a set timeline, making it possible to say:
"Yes, we've reached our quarterly business objectives!"
Without integrated reporting capabilities, you're left to wrangle spreadsheets together, spending days or even weeks trying to gain a complete picture of your partners' work.
That's why it's so important to have an all-in-one system that can immediately take a deal's information and compare it against your business objectives on a chart.
That's what Kiflo does, and it's what'll help you turn a: "Eh, maybe it's working" partner program, into a: "We know with 99% confidence that the reseller program is landing us 3x the profits on a quarterly basis, with this specific channel performing the best" partner program.
If you're interested to learn more, schedule your own free demo today »
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is a reseller partner program?
A reseller partner program is a set of business objectives, sales guidelines, training materials, and performance-based partner rewards that allows a business to expand their sales network externally, making it simpler to reach customers in certain parts of their target market.
How do you structure a reseller partner program?
To structure a reseller partner program appropriately, you need to consider what your long-term business objectives are, align them with the objectives of your ideal partner, and ultimately offer your potential customers additional value through the joint sales and marketing effort.
What is the difference between a channel partner and a reseller?
A reseller IS a channel partner. When we say channel, we refer to where the partner will focus their sales efforts (a specific territory, a certain digital channel, their own business network, etc.). The reselling partner sells primarily within their own business network on a one-to-one basis.