SaaSMAX, a channel-focused services provider, has been sharing insights into the process of more effectively and efficiently building channel ecosystems by developing robust ideal reseller personas. In a series of webcasts, the company has shared detailed instruction on the criteria to include in a partner persona and recommendations on how to find and contact appropriate resellers more efficiently.
Channel experts are advocating that vendors be more selective in assembling their channel ecosystems. During the virtual SiriusDecisions Summit 2020, attendees were advised to profile data from partners regarding their go-to-market strategies, resources and capabilities. Last summer, Forrester recommended that channel leaders should apply much more discipline to their partner recruitment and selection practices.
The need for what Forrester dubbed partner-based marketing (PBM) can be attributed to two significant trends. First, today’s empowered B2B customers demand a new level of specialization and sophistication from third-party firms that assist them. Second, the emergence of nontraditional partnerships and alliances that serve business buyers have made it much more difficult for channel leaders to find and recruit the right partners.
Without a doubt, the information that constitutes a meaningful ideal reseller persona is not trivial, stressed said Clinton Gatewood, SaasMAX’s vice president and channel chief, in a recent webinar. Channel leaders need to determine with more specificity the partner types they need and what solutions, services and products those partners should sell.
Ideal reseller personas should equip recruiters with lists of competing or adjacent vendors that a partner should represent, and more specifically, competing or adjacent product names. But here, too, specificity is critical. Checking to see if a partner is a Cisco reseller, for example, may not provide the information a recruiter needs, said Gatewood. “Selling Cisco Webex is very different than selling Cisco firewall.”
Verifying affiliations is equally important. Just because a partner features a vendor’s logo on its website or is listed in a vendor’s partner finder is not always representative of their relationship or the partner’s ability, said Gatewood. “A lot of the partners listed on a vendor’s site are not always active or doing a good job for the vendor.”
Specifying the vertical markets, customer size and types is critical, he added. Not surprisingly, it’s also important to pinpoint the geographies where partners are needed.
Recruiters also need to be able to target partners with specific certifications, their participation in programs with other vendors, as well as their ability to meet various compliance regulations or sector policies. For example, vendors offering health care solution to physicians or medical facilities would need to focus on recruiting HIPPA compliant partners. Partners offering solutions to government agencies would need to be aware of public section policies.
By having a detailed description of which partners they should target, recruiters are likely to have more meaningful conversations with them. “Channel partners get lots of phone calls from recruiters,” said SaaSMAX CEO, Dina Moskowitz. “Getting their attention is easier when a recruiter reaches out to partners where there is a more apparent fit between what the vendor is offering and the partner’s go-to-market strategy.”
Compiling lists of partners that better match a vendor’s ideal reseller profile is being facilitated by business directory firms that specialize in the channel. SaaSMAX’s PartnerOptimizer Channel Insights service can generate data-driven reports that reveal shared traits of a vendor’s most successful channel partners. It generates ideal partner characteristics (IPC) search algorithms for a vendor’s products, and then provides customized reports ranking and comparing each existing partner — active and inactive — to the IPC algorithm.
With SaaSMAX’s PartnerOptimizer’s Partner Discovery service, AI-driven supervised learning and data analytics help vendors pinpoint reseller prospects for a vendor’s products and solutions. Partner are selected from SaasMAX’s database of 120,000-plus profiled partners in North America.
By developing ideal reseller personas and then using detail-rich business directories to identify preferred partners, vendors can help to ensure the maintenance of effective channel ecosystems at lower recruitment costs. “Hyper-targeting is the most effective way to get the attention of valued partners,” said Moskowitz, “because there is so much noise out there.”
Misalignment of partner to customer can have significant consequences, stressed the Forrester report, Partner-Based Marketing Accelerates Elusive Shadow Channel Engagement, including increasing costs, limiting revenue growth, and ceding new markets to competitors.