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3 Phases of a Channel Partner Program

By April 22, 2014May 13th, 2019

We’ve talked with several people in the past week who are growing a VAR program, so it makes sense to blog about various aspects of a channel program and different ways you can grow participation and engagement among your channel partners.

3 distinct phases of a channel reseller program

There are three different parts of building a successful reseller program. The first part stands on its own and must be done first. Parts 2 and 3 are ongoing.

  1. Program creation. What is your program going to look like? How is it going to operate? Who are you targeting as your VARs? This is where you define the type of program you will have, including the levels, the features and policies (application, deal registration, marketing support, lead policies, support), the margins, training/certification requirements, and support material (sample promotional e-mail templates, demo scripts, slide decks).
  2. Recruiting. Find and sign up your resellers. Think through the process for bringing on a new reseller. Is this something they do themselves or is someone at your company engaged with them? If the latter, are you planning on running training classes, or is 1:1 training more appropriate?
  3. Empowering/Training/Building Excitement. Now that you have a “shared” 100% commission sales force, how do you get them trained on your market (including the competition), your products (and its positioning) and the resources available for them (within your portal). In addition, how do you motivate them to recommend and sell your product over the competitors (they often sell multiple lines)? In this role – you are now a channel sales manager.

Creating your channel partner program

There are many components that go into the creation of a channel partner program. Here is a list of the most common elements, from Chanimal.com:

  • Ideal Reseller Profile.  Who is your ideal reseller? What keeps them up at night? What challenges do they have? What do they read? What social media platforms do they use?
  • Reseller Power Point.  Describes your reseller program, the levels, requirements, benefits to the reseller.
  • Introductory letter. Introduction and overview.
  • Progress Checklist. A checklist to help the reseller understand the steps to authorization.
  • Reseller application. A sample application to qualify potential resellers.
  • Reseller agreement. This agreement defines the relationship between you, the vendor, and the reseller.
  • Reseller Levels. Description of the reseller levels (Authorized, Gold, Platinum, etc.) along with the benefits and requirements at each level.
  • Reseller Policies. A predefined set of policies and procedures explaining how to deal with dealer leads (how to disseminate them and how to reward them when they refer an account they can’t deal with (too big, not his/her specialty, etc.), how you expect to support them (lead generation, reseller portal, training program, specialized collateral, etc.), etc.
  • Contact information. Contains your internal contacts for reseller support (the Channel Manager, Accounting, Sales, Special Support #, etc.)
  • Reseller Not-For-Resale (NFR) prices. A price sheet showing the SRP and the price for resellers to get copies for the store and sales reps. The reseller should be considered an extension of your sales force. As such, their NFR, or demo copies, should be sold at the cost of goods ($5 to $15 max). Your objective is to get them using your software so they can better sell it.
  • Distribution part numbers. This lists all your products (including resellable services), your part numbers and the major distributors part numbers to make it easier for resellers to order the product, assuming you use wholesale distributors.
  • Sample product slicks, data sheets. The kit contains a single sample of every product slick. Resellers can use the collateral order form (below) to order these for their customers.
  • Customer Power Point. This is a sample Power Point presentation that the reseller can customize to present your product to prospective customers. The kit should contain a hard copy, along with a CD-ROM containing electronic and PDF copies of everything.
  • Training requirements, required support & schedules. A document that shows what of certification and training are required for each level of authorization, along with the standard dates these are available.
  • Collateral order form. Used by the reseller to order additional collateral materials.
  • Q & A. Contains answers to typical questions you anticipate from resellers.

Who is your ideal targeted reseller?

This is where so many companies get off on the wrong foot. . . they don’t take time to understand who their ideal reseller is and what makes him/her tick. Please don’t make the mistake of skipping over this process — it can be hard work, but it’s the underpinning of everything you do to build your reseller channel and support your VARs. After all, how can you talk to your potential channel partners without knowing what their concerns are?

We recommend to our clients that they build a channel partner persona — much like a buyer persona. A channel partner persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal reseller prospect. In today’s super-competitive business climate, effective marketing comes out of a 1:1 relationship. So how do you personalize your message to attract the right prospect? How do you know what to say that will excite their interest and keep them coming back for more? Use your channel partner persona, of course!

The process of creating a buyer persona or a channel partner persona is the same. We’ve put together a complete Buyer Persona Toolkit that will help you build the profile of your ideal reseller partner.

Using your VAR persona to develop your messaging

Once you know your reseller persona like a friend, you can tailor your communication to them. It’s more than just using their name, although that is a good way to personalize an email subject line, or place a smart call-to-action on your website. Truly personalized marketing speaks to the prospect with authenticity and genuine concern for their values, needs and desires. If you can achieve that level of integrity in your marketing, your prospects will be naturally attracted to your business because you have earned their trust.

Creating channel partner personas is not for wimps. It’s a lot of work, but well worth the time in what it gives to your marketing efforts. If you’d like to learn more about developing personas download our FREE Kit with everything you need to develop great buyer personas!

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Larry Levenson

Larry is passionate about inbound marketing and is a HubSpot Certified Trainer. He's learned the "secrets" of leveraging HubSpot to make marketing hyper-effective and customizes that information to help our clients meet their goals. Larry lives in Prescott, AZ, and when not at work, he is hiking or hanging out with teenagers as a volunteer with Boys to Men USA.