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Channel partnerships, such as lead referral and reseller, are mutually beneficial relationships because they help sales organizations access a new customer base, generate more qualified leads, and retain top talent while generating profit for their products and services.

Lead referral partners refer customers to a business and get paid a percentage once the sales team has closed the agreement. This type of channel partner has a closer relationship with their referrals and can share key information with you and your team. Reseller partnerships are a form of indirect or “channel” sales where your partner acts as a third-party to sell your services on your behalf.

As you’re entering the world of partnerships, it’s important to have a well-defined channel partner strategy in place to define your ideal partner persona. Identifying the right business segments, company type and customer base of an ideal prospective partner is a great start to your partnership strategy. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What is your unique value proposition?
  • What makes you different?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • What is going to drive growth?
  • What is important to you in the partnership?

The benefits of a channel partnership depend largely on who you choose to partner with. Identifying a potential channel partner requires thorough research to determine whether they fit your criteria. After creating your partnership strategy, you can define your ideal channel partner to ensure you’re selecting the best one.

Consider these five key points when selecting a new channel partner:

1. Alignment of Values and Goals

An ideal partner is aligned with your values, mission and goals. For example, if your mission surrounds diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), you should look to partner with brands that are dedicated to and have solutions surrounding DEI that will complement your product offerings and services.

Determine your mutual goals by discussing objectives, strategies, market view, and your ROI vision. What barriers keep popping up? What do they need to deliver on objectives and meet KPIs? Once you’re clear on your collective goals, be sure to meet regularly to make adjustments if and when needed.

2. Market Focus

Determine your potential partner’s target market, selling and networking activity, and marketing strategy. Find out specific targets, such as geographic focus and business type, and see what network they have in place to determine if it suits your business needs. Looking at their ideal customer profile and buyer personas can help determine the best fit for your product or service.

Some other questions to ask when evaluating a potential partner’s market focus:

Do your products and services meet the needs of their customers?

  • What type of business do they target, and how does this compare with your strategy?
  • Does their customer base fit your business in terms of size, function, geography, and industry?
  • How knowledgeable are they about the market and competition?

3. Industry Expertise & Reputation

Who you partner with will reflect your brand. Ensure the organization you choose is #1 or #2 in their field. When selecting a channel partner, confirm they have the right industry focus, technical and selling capabilities, and the right customer base and coverage.

Select partners who have experience and a credible reputation. Since partners are endorsing your products and solutions through referral or reselling, their credibility is crucial. You want to join a partner program that you can trust, values the contributions of its members, and has valuable products and services. Are they connected with or accredited by a larger industry-recognized association? Explore their products and solutions by reading customer testimonials and case studies.

4. Valuable Partner Incentives

As an extension of your revenue growth, incentives should be based on performance and scale to ensure the partnership is worth your while.

Some questions to ask yourself when selecting channel partners:

  • Does their partner program offer growth opportunities for greater revenue share?
  • Are there additional perks partners can expect outside of revenue?
  • What does marketing support look like for partners?

5. Communications & Relationship Building

Clear, frequent communication from the onboarding process and beyond is key to a successful partnership. One that focuses on relationship building will have established processes in its partnership program. Regular check-ins, training documentation, sales and marketing support, Quarterly Business Reviews, reporting capabilities, and even a partner relationship management system are several signs you should look for.

In the end, joining a channel partnership program can be a great asset to your business. When done strategically, they can help your business grow and remain competitive. Before signing up for one, ensure it will benefit your business over time, and determine that the benefits are worth being part of the program at all.

Circa’s partner program offers the partner community best-in-class OFCCP and diversity recruiting solutions, an attractive “partner-first” compensation model, and world-class marketing support and tools to provide partners with a straightforward way to quickly get revenue.


Miranda Knudtson

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