How to Set Up Your Reseller Channel Program

We published this article originally on Business2Community.

Are you looking to set up your Reseller Channel Program or perhaps you already have some resellers or business partners on board, and you want to formalize these relationships into a professional partner program? So, how do you go about setting up your reseller program?

Why should you set up a Reseller Program?

Firstly, let’s think about why it’s a good idea to set up a reseller program.

Reach a larger customer base:

It’s an expensive task to recruit your own sales teams to take your product to market, in addition to the cost of supporting these sales processes and providing ongoing technical support to customers. In simple terms, setting up a partner program enables you to reach a big audience without the same level of investment as taking on your own staff and infrastructure. There is still some degree of investment required for setting up a good reseller program, whether that be time or financial investment, however well-trained and autonomous resellers can eventually take on the selling, admin and post-sale support tasks from your business.

Get to market quicker:

Trying to get your product in the hands of thousands of customers can take a long time. Investing some of your time upfront into building a base of strong resellers could exponentially speed up your time to market.

For example, if you employ four new Business Development Directors, it could take them 2 – 3 months before they are adequately trained up on your company and product (at least), and a number of months for the new starters to develop leads from scratch and start proper conversations with customers which could eventually lead to a sale. With some products and industries where the sales cycle can be many months to a year – on top of the time required for onboarding training and developing brand new leads, you can quickly see how it could be almost a year before you are seeing any return on your investments into your sales team.

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Now, think about focusing the efforts of those new Business Development Directors on recruiting and managing resellers. The resellers they work with would likely already have some established customers who they could take a new product proposition to, in addition to multiple salespeople working in each reseller business. So one Business Development Director could potentially work with ten resellers, each with 10 salespeople – that’s one hundred sales reps to take your product to market. Multiplied by the four Business Development Directors and four new hires suddenly turn into a sales force of four hundred!

Of course, not everyone will go out and sell your product – but it gives you a much bigger sales force to get your product into customers’ hands quicker.

Scale without the cost

Setting up a reseller program can sometimes be the only option for a company with a product that has high demand, but cash flow issues mean that you can’t automatically hire new staff, on top of investing in lots of expensive marketing and building the infrastructure to cope with hundreds of new customers.

Working with resellers enables you to leverage the infrastructure and investments made by those resellers in their own businesses, in return for sharing your new great product and potential sales revenues with them – without the upfront cost of expanding your company.

Ok, so now we’ve looked at why you might set up a reseller program, let’s now look at the infrastructure, processes and content that you will need to make your partner program a reality.

Reseller Program Infrastructure

You will likely need a comprehensive partner portal in place, stocked with the collateral and training to upskill partners on your products and processes.

The reseller portal can be as simple or complex as you like; it can include product and sales skill training, role plays, co-branded marketing materials and collaboration tools – or could just be a place where partners go to pick up product specification sheets and send in their Deal Registration forms.

Before you embark on building your portal, think about what core content you really need rather than trying to boil the ocean and ending up with lots of content that quickly goes out of date (oh, and while we are on the subject, have a process in place to keep all documents on the portal up to date so that your partners are always working from the same information as your internal sales teams).

Here are a few ideas about what to include:

  • Product briefs
  • Email templates for lead generation
  • Call scripts
  • Sales playbooks for different products and customer industries (If you want a comprehensive how-to guide on creating your playbook then head on over to our Sales Playbook Guide section)
  • Contact information for Account Managers, Technical Support and Presales, etc.
  • Deal Registration processes
  • Partner compensation information

Reseller Program Processes

Next, you have to think about the processes you will need for your Reseller Program. We regularly help organisations think about what needs to go into their Reseller Program Handbooks as it can often be the point at which many companies’ visions for creating a partner program fall down due to technicalities – do they need to include sales compensation information, or should they be training their resellers on how to sell their products? Do they recruit all resellers they can get access to or should they segment them to find just a few resellers that are the perfect fit?

Whatever the answers to these questions, this information needs to be properly thought out and well-documented so that you have clear criteria and processes in place about how you will manage your reseller program going forward.

We recommend you think about putting in place clear, formal processes for:

  • How to engage with your company when a new lead is generated
  • How to register a deal and get price protection from other resellers
  • How you will share margins between you and the reseller
  • Who will be responsible for ongoing customer support and liaison

Reseller Program Documents and Content

Finally, once you have the details of your program laid out and a shiny new partner portal ready – you can get to the documentation and collateral section for your program.

What will you give to your resellers to help them to sell your product or service? How much ‘insider’ information about your products, pricing, competitive info and processes will you give them access to?

How will you present this information – in documents, videos or in-person? What will resellers have to hand to take out to customers during live sales meetings?

Here are some ideas about the type of content you might want to develop for your Reseller Channel Program:

  • Sales enablement information:
    • Sales playbooks and battle cards to train resellers on particular products or solutions
    • Sales training courses
    • Sales presentations
    • Call scripts and sales email templates
  • Product information:
    • Product specification briefs
    • Product marketing documents
  • Program admin documents:
    • Deal registration form
    • Reseller Handbook and program overviews
    • Compensation information
  • Marketing materials:
    • Co-branded marketing content
    • Case studies
    • How to sell against your competitors

These are just a few examples, and depending on your industry, you will have additional, and specific, content to support your resellers in their sales activities, such as Return on Investment calculators for partners selling IT, for example.

Once you have these core pillars of your Reseller Program in place, the next step is devising a plan to go out and start recruiting resellers to your program. We will be doing a follow-up piece soon on how to decide on a reseller recruitment strategy for your business to put your Reseller Program into practice.

If you want to understand more about how to create a Sales Playbook, then we’ve written a comprehensive guide on How to Create Your Sales Playbook – loads of free information on creating your playbook!

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