Vilfredo Pareto first told us that 80% of our success will come from 20% of our partners.

That may leave you wondering what to do about the other 80% of your channel partners. Do you invest more time in them? Do you cut them from your program? Do you assign particularly persuasive agents to seek them out and re-ignite their enthusiasm?

Which Inactive Channel Partners Are Still Worth Your Time?

Channel partners who haven’t been active with you for some time may be idle for any number of reasons:

  1. They may have gone out of business
  2. They may have been acquired
  3. They may have changed their name
  4. They may have gone to your competitor
  5. They may be unaware of the opportunity you offer them

Do You Offer Your Channel Partners an Opportunity?

Fundamentally, the definition of “opportunity” has changed dramatically for channel partners. A few still call themselves “resellers” but many have commenced their transition in the direction of becoming a managed service provider (MSP).

  • Some have successfully completed that transition and are running brilliant practices that sell and provide excellent services to a broad cross-section of businesses and other customers.
  • Some are still taking training, hiring skilled people, and still developing their methodologies and their service catalogs.
  • Some have had “MSP” stamped on their business cards and are trying to figure out what’s next.

The easiest way to determine which category each of your dormant partners fits into is to visit their websites. Those that are still highlighting their line card should likely be cut from your program unless they’re generating sales. 

It’s hard to identify an MSP in the middle, but when you’re looking at the website of a true expert MSP, you’ll know it. Most of their content is about their services or the great outcomes their clients enjoy. Most every paragraph begins with the customer, not themselves. They’re all about the customer, all about solutions, and all about value.

You Only Represent an Opportunity to Those Who Know Their Business

The partners you should invest time or effort in re-engaging with are high-quality service practices that build trust with their customers before they build anything else. You know you can feel good about having them represent your solutions.

Learn Their Language

Once you’ve identified partners who have successfully transitioned to MSP, look for those whose verticals are aligned with your products, or who feature products adjacent to yours. This will mean they have customers who would benefit from your products.

Next, speak to them about the wide variety of services they can wrap around your products. Ideally, the service opportunities that are really meaningful to them include:

  • The ability to consult on your products
  • The ability to design your products into their projects
  • The ability to configure and provision services for your products
  • The ability to deploy your products
  • The ability to install, implement, and integrate your products
  • The ability to train users on the use of your products
  • The ability to obtain service and support agreements for your products that generate monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

Be sure to add the words “for a fee” to the end of each of these and, bingo, you’ve built a list of the opportunities your product represents to the right channel partners.

Your Path to Improved Product Sales is Paved with Channel Partner Services

Think about the relationship in the healthcare industry between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. For the most part, doctors are not actively selling pharmaceutical products. But they are prescribing the ones they prefer. That should be instructive to your effort to re-engage inactive partners. If you can convince them to configure your solution into their projects instead of your competitors, you can re-engage them and build great success together.