Many OEMs and vendors are playing the numbers game: they’re focusing more on the quantity of their partners, rather than the quality. As a result, channel development managers are inundated with inactive partners and paying less attention to the contacts that deserve more time and attention, according to a recent webinar from TSL Marketing.
During the presentation, titled “The 5 Pillars of Systematic Partner Recruitment Campaigns,” Michael Kelly, Managing Director of TSL Marketing, EMEA and Asia, discussed how organizations can develop a partner recruitment strategy that aligns with company sales goals effectively.
According to research from Aberdeen Group, 78% of best-in-class companies prefer to have more active and high-performing partners versus a greater number of partners. In order to create a network of valuable partners, vendors and OEMs must implement a systematic approach to partner recruitment, which includes five phases: planning and building an ideal profile; generating an optimal target list; qualifying candidates; determining value propositions; and planning an engagement strategy.
The five stages are as follows:
1. Planning and building an ideal profile: Companies must model their geographic coverage, as well as their competitors’ geographic coverage. After outlining current partners’ profiles, as well as their sales/marketing niches, vendors and OEMs must determine the overall goal of each new partner, and whether they’ll be brought on board to develop new accounts, or simply grow existing ones.
“This is something that isn’t often thought about by vendors when they’re going after new partners, so it is something we do stress,” Kelly said. “It’s important to find partners that go after your strategic goal.”
Organizations can then create ideal partner profiles out of areas including: industries served; geographic coverage; current clients; partnerships with complementary vendors; number of sales people/staff with specific certifications; historic growth/revenues; and technical expertise.
2. Generating a suitable target list: To develop a strong list of potential partners that align with ideal profiles, companies can look to competitor ecosystems, complementary vendor ecosystems, and even to completely new channels. Although many companies utilize third-party sources that offer hefty lists, this strategy creates higher likelihood of inaccuracy and wasted money, according to Kelly.
“A lot of companies do this,” Kelly noted. “They buy a list that matches a certain criteria. We see this as being the least successful. It lacks accuracy and needs a lot of validation before any channel recruitment can occur, or else you’re going to have a huge amount of wasted resources.”
3. Qualifying potential candidates: OEMs and vendors must roll out integrated, multi-tactic and brand-focused strategies that engage prospects across touch points. Organizations can pick and choose a roster of tactics to include that will clearly define their value proposition, as well as the benefits of joining their partner network.
“There has to be a clear business case for each partner, and they have to really see how they’re going to make money in having these conversations with you,” Kelly explained. “That means you need to have very strong case studies and partner testimonials around what you’re saying as well. Every reseller is being chased by multiple vendors and they’re really going to engage with the ones that clearly demonstrate the best way to make money on a consistent basis.”
4. Value propositions: Developing compelling value propositions of the partner, as well as the vendor/OEM, is vital to displaying the clear business case for partnerships. Successful customer case studies, technical training and discounts, as well as sales training, MDF and lead offerings are key to piquing VAR interest. These areas may spark an interaction, or encourage a company to seek further information on a partner program.
5. Having a systematic engagement process: The key to successful partner recruitment is focusing less on the numbers, and more on the capabilities and opportunities potential partners may bring. Rather than focusing less on 20 prospects, OEMs/vendors can hone in on three companies that truly align with company goals, models and markets, leading to more successful end results.
To access a full, on-demand version of the webinar from TSL Marketing, click here.