Incentra Insights

Building a Channel Partner Ecosystem

Posted by David Chittock on Jul 16, 2019 10:00:00 AM

incentive channel partnerships

The Changing Face of Channel Partnerships

There is no question that B2B sales are growing increasingly challenging for businesses with only a direct sales staff. But finding and building a partner network can be equally as challenging.

According to the Institute for the Study of Business Markets (ISBM), in today’s environment, if B2B organizations are going to make it, they will need a strong channel partner network.

ISBM cites four benefits of expanding into a channel marketing program:

  • accelerated growth
  • higher brand awareness
  • increased revenue
  • presence in new markets and verticals

But ISBM also cautions businesses that they will need to have a sound partner strategy that takes into account the latest changes in the technology landscape and people’s mindsets, and then leverages them.

Three Factors That Affect B2B Partnerships

ISBM cites three forces that influence B2B partnerships today:

  • Technological factors - As companies look to digitally transform their businesses, their focus is shifting towards solutions that deliver complete business outcomes. This creates a unique window of opportunity for strategic partnerships.
  • Social factors - With the buyer’s journey becoming digital, partners are increasingly offering a mix of services that cross cloud platforms and apps. This brings to the forefront the importance of winning partner mindshare and loyalty.

  • Economic factors - B2B tech partners are now targeting business leaders instead of IT. In this light, high quality business training becomes as critical as product training.

These three forces are the critical building blocks for a successful channel partner strategy.

Steps to Building a Successful Channel Partner Network

ICBM recommends the following steps as a strategy for building your channel partner network:

  • Step 1. Selecting Partners – Finding the ideal partner means asking the right questions. Does the candidate have the necessary resources, required competencies, and technical assets to be a successful partner? Do they share your values?                     
  • Step 2. Discovery – Take the time to delve more deeply into the candidate’s current business practices, customers, market opportunities and goals. Have open conversations about challenges and frustrations in channel partnerships and how they can be resolved.
  • Step 3. Setting Goals and Outlining Commitment - Create, in collaboration with the partner, a clear written plan with a set of objectives, specific view of the target market, strategies and tactics, who’s going to do what, the resources both parties have committed, and a realistic view of the ROI.
  • Step 4. Facilitating Introductions - Assign a Partner Manager to facilitate introductions between teams and help foster relationships.
  • Step 5. Enablement - Understand that timely and relevant industry information shared with the partners consistently can put them at a sizable advantage over the competition.
  • Step 6. Sales Support and Account Management - Work hand in hand with the partner to make customer success a continuous process.
  • Step 7. Evolving the Partner Program - Take the best practices you learn from your most successful partners and share them with all the partners in your ecosystem.

Keep the Channels of Communications Wide Open

Without a doubt, the most important channel in your partner ecosystem is communications. Without open communications, your ecosystem won’t survive. This will ensure that there is buy-in and commitment on the part of both parties and that your partners are continuously up-to-date with your product and the industry trends. 

And don’t overlook the importance of sales incentives. You are going to need an extremely powerful and flexible channel sales incentive platform to support your entire partner ecosystem.  This is our wheelhouse.  We can help you every step of the way.  Give us a call.

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Categories: Sales Incentives