This article is part of our “Channel Marketing series” – with tools, tips and tutorials to help you create and manage an effective channel partner program. Click here to see more articles from this series.
Characteristics of High Performance Channel Resellers
Several years ago a company I worked with ramped up from four to over four hundred channel resellers in the space of two years. Among the excitement of growth, you can imagine there were also some crazy days of confusion and collaboration as we constructed the systems to support these technology professionals across the US.
As the dust settled the senior management was able to look at the field of resellers and identify the ones that were making our solution rock in the marketplace. Here are some of the things we found. If you have already built a significant team, some of these findings will be familiar. If you are just starting, I hope we can save you some time by learning early on these six significant signs of high performance channel resellers.
Channels, like most human organizations, track closely with the 80/20 rule or Pareto’s Principle. When we
pulled charts of the performance of four hundred plus resellers, 20% of the resellers produced 80% of the sales volume. Further, within that top 20%, the same proportions held true again, where the top 4% produced 80% of the volume of that group. In other words, the top 4% were producing over half the volume of the company.
Of course, as with any statistics, the principle only holds if there are significant numbers. In our case, having over four hundred resellers gave us the numbers to see the trends and isolate the characteristics of the big producers.
Our high performers ran through the training, asked questions of our team for both sales and technical help, then got moving. They didn’t wait until they had a customer to take product training but instead took the initiative to plan ahead. As a result, when opportunities arose, they were not hesitant to pursue them right away.
One secret of the winners was that they maintained a personal relationship with someone on our staff. Primarily they stayed in close contact with the corporate channel development person. Obviously this indicates that the channel development person needs to be a relationship builder. Another blog post will focus on this position. That said, the channel partners have to be receptive and open to the relationship. It was surprising how effective a simple coffee or beer together after work cemented the relationship and helped with communications during tough times.
Big Picture Thinkers
While not all of our top 4% had huge businesses, they all were big picture thinkers. By that I mean they saw our offering as both an income generator and a tool to increase their business in other ways. Their focus was not on making a single transaction or sale but instead on building a strategic partnership with our company that would benefit their business in the long term. People with this state of mind did not flip out if a commission payment was late or it there was a bug in the solution. Instead, they would work with us to rectify situations for the good of the end customer and the partnership.
Take Charge Personalities
As with many leaders, our key partners had take charge personalities. They were leaders in their business, in the groups within which they operated, and with their customers. What kept them involved with our organization was the ability of our corporate channel development person to give them direct leadership and manage their egos at the same time. When we on-boarded new partners, we looked for this leadership quality early in the process. It was typically easy to identify!
They Love Recognition
From day one in our channel program we incorporated recognition for performance. Since our revenue model was based on a SaaS model with lower monthly payments recurring over time, the immediate benefit of big dollar amount commissions was not available to us. We found, however, that the big producers responded very well to recognition – in the form of a certificate, a personal letter of congratulations on getting a new account, mention in the monthly email newsletter, public acknowledgment in meetings and webinars, etc. Several of the top guys told us that they rarely were recognized for their performance in other parts of their business, so our recognition of them was particularly impactful and motivating.
When you see these six signs in your new channel partners you will know you are on the way to success. However, remember the importance of having the right person to manage these channel partners. Without the right person in place, your star performers will leave to find another business to grow with.