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We spend a lot of time in the trenches with channel programs — ask any of our Support, Customer Success, or Channel Engagement departments. We’re with you every step of the way, so we see what does and does not work. So you could say we’ve picked up some good ideas that keep coming up when we’re talking with companies like yours. 

Here are the core components that should fold into a successful channel program:

1) Minimize Complexity 

Your channel partners deal with many, many vendors who use many, many different ordering styles, invoice systems, and other programs. They don’t have time to learn an entirely new way to interact with you. Instead, all of your interactions should be kept as simple and intuitive as possible. Our Channel Engagement team are experts on this. 

2) Is Your Product Adding Business Value?

At the end of the day, your channel partner doesn’t want to have to spend a lot of time, money or energy marketing your product. They simply want your product to sell and increase their profits. Help create a demand for your product so that it will “sell itself.”

Don’t make this value hard to access, either. Your partner portal should be designed for ease of use, so partners can navigate it easily. If they have to search for a particular campaign or can’t find out where to upload contact lists, they won’t — and who could blame them? Our ZiftONE platform is designed to combat this problem while still offering a breadth of support and optimization options. 

3) Emphasize Your Three Basic Value Builders

Your channel partners are ultimately interested in these three value builders: how many new customers you will help them generate, how much the value of each transaction will be from each new customer, and how many of those customers will become repeat customers. Focus your communications on these three main concepts. A partner-first program benefits both you and partners, so keep coming back to these points. 

4) Partners Are Not in Charge of Your Brand

You are responsible for your branding efforts. They are not. You can’t expect channel partners to create customized logos or templates, or handle the marketing of your brand. Take control of your branding efforts so they provide value to the channel partners. Make use of ready-to-go templates in multi-tactic campaigns — Giving partners a campaign so easy they can set it and forget it shows you’re valuing their time. 

5) Work with Managed Service Providers

A fair number of companies are turning to managed service providers to streamline their ordering processes. Each managed service provider will have their own list of preferred vendors. Those MSPs will not put you on their preferred vendor list unless you are willing to work with them and their systems. 

6) Know When to Stay and When to Go 

No channel partner will want to work with you forever. There is a lifecycle to every business relationship. Eventually, you and the partner will move on. This means you have to keep track of what’s going on with each and every channel partner you work with. Focus most of your marketing efforts on partners that are new, or are still placing a significant number of orders. When you notice that a partner starts to be less and less interested in your products and services, remember that is a natural part of doing business and start devoting fewer resources to them, so you have more available resources for active partners. That being said, partner enablement efforts at the beginning of your relationship go a long way toward adding value to the long-term partnership. 

7) Seriously: Minimize Complexity

This is so important that it’s worth a second mention. Simplicity matters, especially when you’re working to keep the attention of partners who on average are part of eight channel programs. The best programs go to great lengths to try and keep the hurdles required to work together to an absolute minimum.

 

You and your channel partners are out to grow your own respective businesses. Remember that channel partners are working with a number of different vendors, each with their own rules, tools and processes. Keep a channel mindset and make it easy for your channel partners to work with you. You will capture channel mindshare and grow a successful and profitable business together.