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How to Start a Sales Partner Program

In today's world, a Sales Partner Program and partner management are the best ways for a company to grow. Discover how to get started.
3 Steps to Start a Sales Partner Program
Published on
October 22, 2020


Today, Zoom and Slack have achieved a verb-like status. But that’s not all they have in common – both are proof of how an indirect sales strategy is advantageous in growing companies. In today’s world where connections matter most, a sales partner program and effective partner management are the best way for a company to achieve constant and consistent growth. 

In layman’s language, it’s a partnership where company A cross-sells products from Company B. The system allows Company B to leverage an audience that already trusts company A and thus gets hotter leads. 

Sounds interesting – let’s look at how you can start a sales partner program

Step 1: Define Your Partner Persona

Who do you think would make a good partner for a company like Hubspot: McDonald's or a marketing agency? The latter right… Not everyone is an equally good partner. Thus, it is important to be careful when choosing who to partner with. Ideally, your sales partner’s work should be connected to your own in some way so that you target the same customer profile. The product or service you ask them to cross-sell should add value to their offers. This gives them the motivation needed to promote your brand.

For example, Onix, a leading cloud solution provider partnered with Slack, a channel-based messaging platform that helps companies configure Slack programs and train their employees on how to use it. In this case, both partner software companies had the same customer profile (businesses ready to go digital) and goals (selling slack & slack-related services).

When you choose a sales partner, some of the questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • Do the partnership software companies have the resources and time needed for a successful partnership?
  • Will the partnership benefit them and if yes, then how?
  • Are they a technical fit for your brand?
  • Are they competent and respected?
  • Do they share your value system?

Step 2: Draft an Efficient Sales Partner Strategy

Finding a partner who you feel is a good fit for your brand is only one-half of the process. Now that you’re sure they can help you, you must draft a sales partner program that they would be interested in. No partner will be inclined to promote another brand’s products unless they feel that they benefit in some way and unless they feel that the brand is invested in them. Also, remember that it isn’t easy to cross-sell another brand’s products. Selling a new product is challenging and they will need special support, proper tools, and training.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when drafting a sales partner program:

Train Your Partners

Prepare your sales partners by sharing information with them about the product itself, your brand’s strengths and weaknesses, your competitor profiles, etc. You also need to share a value proposition that makes your product unique.

Define Common Objectives With Your Partners

Define common sales and marketing goals that benefit both you and your partners. Defining such goals makes it possible to track partner progress and make the moves needed to achieve them.

Create Partner Marketing Campaigns

Coordinate a marketing campaign with your partners to communicate with their contact base. This is a huge advantage of a partnership program because you get access to their customers. When you target their accounts from their brand, it gives you greater credibility and better-qualified leads.

Enable Your Partners Quickly

Lastly, give them the support needed to succeed. Here is an essential checklist of resources and tools to provide your partners:

  • Training documents
  • Sales and marketing presentations
  • Lead forms so they can capture leads
  • A place for them to register their deals to avoid channel conflicts
  • A Partner Portal where they can manage their deals

Step 3: Design an enticing reward system

At the end of the day, for partners to be interested in promoting another brand’s product, they must have a suitable incentive in addition to the value they can create around your product. For this, you need to tap into the factors motivating them. In many cases, you can offer them a commission with the possibility for them to sell their other services alongside your offer.

The first thing to decide is what you will base your commission on. Will it be based on leads captured, qualified deals registered, or deals won? You might choose to have different reward systems for different partners based on what they do for you. If this is the case, it’s important to have a Partnership Relationship Management (PRM) solution to be able to run and manage multiple partner programs simultaneously.

Once this has been determined, you can determine a fixed reward, a percentage of commission, or a recurring commission (in the case of a SaaS subscription) to motivate your partners.

How a PRM can Help

A well-planned sales partner program can quickly accelerate your company’s growth. Partners boost new customer acquisition, as well as customer retention and loyalty. Managing multiple partnerships can be tricky. This is where a good partner management platform like Kiflo comes in. A PRM solution optimizes every step of the partner lifecycle, from recruiting partners and onboarding partners to partner collaboration and payouts.

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