The fact that approximately 70% of sales are made through indirect methods makes a strong case for a solid channel marketing strategy. But, not all channel marketing strategies are one-size-fits-all, in fact, they are as diverse as the partnerships themselves making it all the more complicated. With careful consideration and strategy across departments, an organization can devise a channel ecosystem that is just right for their business.
Selecting The Channel Partner Strategies That Are Right For You
Before we begin, let’s first define a channel partnership strategy. The channel strategy is a plan for a company’s leadership, along with sales and marketing teams, to enable third-party entities to grow their businesses while also generating sales and revenue for the host company. Channel partners will bring their own unique solutions to the ecosystem that can be based on their location (helping companies market in new locations that are outside of their internal sales areas), or the diversity of customers and end-users, or the capabilities of their team to deliver further value to the end customer.
There are a number of market factors that will play into the strategy that you select. Likewise, your channel strategy will be influenced by the stage your business is in. Thinking about it being a “strategic investment” will help your organization to prioritize the time, money, and resources for the development, implementation, and management of the channel to maximize growth for everyone in the ecosystem. Here are a few potential partner strategies to consider:
Value-Added Resellers Strategy
This is the most common partner strategy. These are your resellers. They add cost to your product, sell it for a profit, and bring value to their end customers. They can be local, regional, or national resellers.
This strategy is great for companies that are trying to spread the word about their company and products to a larger market. This approach will help you to break into markets that would be difficult to do on your own. You can add value to these partners by providing them with another product in their arsenal but also help them upscale their marketing and sales with support, tools, and assets that they couldn’t afford on their own.
Expert Channel Partner Strategy
Your strategy may be to go with high specialized sales and marketing experts in your product or service area. This is where you target partners who already know the industry extremely well and are prolific at selling your type of products and services. You will gain their expertise, and they can hit the ground running.
This all sounds great, but these types of partners take a lot of nurturing. They are experts and likely have other solutions that they are selling at the same time. Becoming their product of preference takes a great deal of effort and continual maintenance.
Fulfillment Partner Strategy
These partners are the ones that help with volume. They can manage orders on a large scale. Fulfillment partners can help your business grow by getting your product into larger markets like government agencies and consortiums.
This type of partnership can also help you scale quickly. They enable you to keep your administrative costs down and mass sell your products that are self-explanatory or easy to install and use.
Embedded Partner Strategy
This type of partnership allows a partner to market your solution as their own and sell it to their customers under their own brand. This can be an effective strategy for increasing sales quickly and easily.
Embedded Partners is also known as white label partners because the downside for fast sales is you lose your brand recognition.
Systems Integrator Partner Strategy
A Systems Integrator partner functions to bring together the various components necessary for the strategy at hand. This partner strategy can have a big impact on your business. It often involves working with system integrators (SI) who are in charge of the business’s tech stack and processes. Some SI engineers In some cases, they provide expertise on how a business can improve their workflows and systems across sales, marketing, and other departments. A company could partner with an SI to audit, evaluate, and improve the company’s marketing ROI, or they could evaluate the sales nurturing process and find solutions for improved prospect engagement. They can also evaluate the partner ecosystem’s technology and management tools.
SI’s become an integral part of your channel partner strategy when you are in a growth stage or looking to implement something new across your channel ecosystem. The SI will help the company choose which components to invest in, understand and navigate risks, and help align processes for scalability while building a strong foundation for growth.
Influencer Partner Strategy
Keep in mind too that pricing, sales, and margin potential shouldn’t be your only criteria for partnerships. Many partner ecosystems understand that influence, community involvement, and brand visibility are essential to the channel strategy. These non-transactional partners can be as important as transactional partners in your quest to build a strong partner ecosystem that adds value to your company and your partner’s companies and ultimately, your end-users.
A diverse portfolio is a good thing in most instances and with partner strategy, it is no different. The key to a successful partner strategy is one that is diverse and that offers your company the opportunity to grow in many directions instead of just one. With diverse partners, you are essentially taking different roads to market and that is a good thing. Start small, by exploring which type of partner you need the most to meet your company goals. As that partnership takes off, you can expand your strategy and diversify your partnerships.
If you are unsure what type of partnership to seek out first, ManoByte is here to help. We can explore the pros and cons of each and help you create a strategy for building a partner ecosystem that helps you succeed, grow, and diversify.
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