Whatever you want to call it: channel enablement, reseller strategy, partner programs – Channel enablementit’s all the same. When a product or service reaches sufficient maturity, the natural next step (at least in the technology industry) is to set up a partner program to resell the product.
The resell model has a number of benefits:
At a really simple level, if each of your resellers sells to 10 new clients, and you have 5 resellers, then that’s 50 sales. Within your organisation, you would probably need a lot more resource to generate 50 additional sales, so a reseller program allows you to reach a much wider audience in a quicker way.
Additionally, your chosen resellers probably operate in specific fields or target customers in certain sectors that you may not have focused on before. This opens your product up to a whole new world and potential new uses that you hadn’t thought of before.
It’s expensive and risky to hire new sales people, and it can take a long time to get new staff up to speed with your solutions. By spending time investing in a reseller program, you can train a reseller once and then they can train their own teams multiple times, making more effective use of your resources. It gives you access to multiple sales forces across different sectors, geographical areas and with different skills and expertise. By just working with a handful of resellers, you can triple your own sales force without forking out on new sales teams and training.
This leaves you with more money and time to focus on targeting a wider audience and increasing your sales in a more efficient way.
Many newer tech companies tend to have fairly small staff numbers, with employees taking on a wide range of activities across departments. This means it’s often unthinkable to launch a new office overseas due to the cost of starting up in a new country with an entirely new team. Even if a company had the resources to expand internationally, they could only consider doing this in a few countries due to the expense rather than having a global strategy that a reseller program could deliver.
New partners could be trained and sales enabled over WebEx and calls, allowing local providers to then take your proposition to their customers in their country. This is expansion without the immense expense and time involved in setting up local country teams. It’s a way to get your product in front of thousands of companies in a matter of weeks, rather than decades.
If you wanted to instantly gain hundreds of friendly, buying customers, that would be impossible -right? Not with a partner program. By enabling a strategic group of resellers, you are not only gaining new customers, but you are also gaining warm, new customers who are already buying from your reseller.
Setting up a channel program allows you to capitalise on the good relationships already in place between your resellers and their customers. It also makes sense for your resellers, as they can sell more to their existing clients without having to go out and find brand new customers to increase revenue sales.
When you decide to set up a reseller program, you will inevitably work with a huge range of resellers, from different backgrounds. Some companies will become resellers, who you would never thought of as being a viable or relevant partner. For instance, an existing technology company might resell your product as a bolt-on to their software solution. To be successful, you have to look past just the traditional IT resellers, and expand your net to the wider technology market. Could a cloud services provider integrate your analytics tool into their current proposition? Could your social selling application be perfect for a Salesforce reseller to build APIs into in order to differentiate from other resellers?
Once you start working with these different resellers, it will give you an entirely different perspective. You will see your product used in ways you could never have imagined and for reasons you never intended. You might see a particular trend among your resellers, and amend your product to suit; creating a whole new revenue stream in the process.
Either way, your channel strategy should flex and change in order to capitalise on the amazing resource you have in front of you: your resellers. They know their customers best, and they can help you define your solution to better fit.
And, rather than telling them what the solution is and why their customers need it, have a think about finding out what their customers want first and seeing whether you could build something, or change something, to meet that need?
Have a look at our recent post about setting up a Sales Enablement portal to support channel partners in becoming clued up and specialised in your product portfolio.