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Channel management is a Channel Partners blog written by telecom and IT industry thought leaders about best practices for managing sales through indirect channels.

6 Best Practices for a Mutually Beneficial Partner Program

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Brian SutterBy Brian Sutter

Creating a reseller partner program is one of the most important steps in developing a successful channel sales model. More important, though, is ensuring that the end result of your partner program, is a network full of resellers that are mutually invested in you. The manufacturer must invest in marketing efforts, funding, sales and training resources, and constant upkeep. When a VAR joins a partner program, they are investing time in becoming certified and learning the product offerings. The VAR will also invest time and money in marketing campaigns, sales training and developing opportunities within their customer base. The investment truly is mutual.

For small businesses, membership in a benefit rich partner program is an effective way to function as a big business within a small business budget. The VAR should have access to marketing campaigns, leads, deal registration and unlimited product trainings. The ability to leverage these tools can be a cost-effective and efficient way to drive revenue as a small business owner that wears many hats. Following are six keys to a partner program that will foster mutual investment between the manufacturer and the VAR.

1. Free Training — Offering different options for getting a partner up to speed on your product offering is a key to early success. Offer one-on-one training through a Web conference or self-paced online certification program. This training should be a requirement before any leads or opportunities are passed to a partner. Having different training vehicle options allows the reseller to gain product knowledge on their terms. Another great training option is a boot camp training. Hosting a partner boot camp allows for a more in-depth training experience. This type of event also allows both parties to better connect and understand each other’s goals and strategies. The higher level of product knowledge gained at a boot camp can be beneficial in bridging the gap between reseller and manufacturer in the eyes of the end user.

2. Dedicated Sales Account Managers — These representatives serve as the primary point of contact for the reseller.  They are responsible for providing sales material, leads, pre-sales support, training and anything else that will assist in driving revenue for the reseller.

3. A Partner Portal — A resource developed for the partners in order to access marketing and sales collateral. This portal should provide VARs with information, documentation and collateral that highlight the benefits of the products to help in the sales process. The material should be downloadable and easy to access, so it is convenient for your partners to quickly use in their sales efforts.

4. Marketing Services — Offering co-branded sales material to a reseller is one of the many ways a manufacturer can invest in a reseller. Email blast templates, call campaigns, MDF funds and custom collaterals should also be available for resellers to leverage through the partner program.

5. Sales Leads — Wasp receives thousands of leads from their website each year. A large percentage of these leads are sent to their channel partners in order to provide a fast, geographic response to a customer inquiry. Solution leads are the most coveted leads that come from the Wasp website, and these leads are sent to Wasp resellers that have shown an expert understanding of the solution and have participated in an online training or boot camp. Wasp strives to send every lead to the right reseller as quickly as possible in order to have the best opportunity for a potential sale.

6. Partner Awards — An essential element of a great partner program is rewarding partners for their substantial success. A suggestion would be to reward the new partner of the year and the partner of the year by offering a plaque and a celebratory event. Also consider recognizing these partners in a press release and on social media to increase the reach of the announcement. Awesome partners deserve to be acknowledged and awards are an incentive to continue to be successful. 

A successful partnership means that both parties are benefitting.

Brian Sutter is the director of marketing at Wasp Barcode Technologies, responsible for the development and execution of the company's marketing strategy. His role encompasses brand management, direct and channel marketing, public relations, advertising and social media.

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