Creating a reseller program is nice but the value is often really low and not centred on the partner but rather you’re pushing all your stuff in their face and hope they will magically sell your product/service. Clearly that will not work
Partners want to do 2 things with your product or service:
1) Upsell to existing customers (fast)
2) Acquire new customers (slow)
You’re only goal is to enable their sales so if you want to go faster you need to have a 2 phased approach
Phase 1: get to the first deal as quick as you can
Partners will always think they OWN the end-user.
Don’t fight this rather use this to your advantage. Arrogance about who gives real value will not help your sales process. Just go along and act accordingly.
Trust is key: don’t mail directly to the end-user, use the sales to leverage all communication to the end-user. In Phase 2 we will optimise this for revenue acceleration.
Create a champion within your partner. They sales person you believe that can pull it off and you help him as much as you can (joint customers meetings, advice, hands on coaching,….) – give him leads, take him to your own meetings so they can learn the trade.
Get as quickly as you can to 1 deal. This will prove it works and it is not impossible focus on your champion. You’ll will have to do this deal and use your champion as your wingman. Once there over communicate it to the management & especially other sales team members.
Bring them leads: organise joint inbound campaigns. Bring leads that might come directly to you, divert them to the partner (but make clear you are helping them),
Make sure the sales of the partner are paid on your product or service. If there is no upside for them why would they even bother. If this is not in their commission scheme think of personal things that benefit the sales and his family. A good alternative if a sales would win the first deal I would make them an internal champion buy buying a foosball table or air hockey (something very visible + brand your logo all over it) and I would make sure everybody would know this is because of sales person x. This way you enforce team cohesion and you will not run into trouble with some local tax laws on gifts.
Ask for 20 minutes presentation time at their sales/team meetings and focus your storyline on them and not on you. How they can shine in the eyes of their customers (ex. How they can come across as an expert, etc.). Also focus on use cases and impact and end with the process (= how easy it is to find you). So don’t go in with all your technical stuff as they will not care. Also please don’t talk about your company for ages nor your team. It is just not relevant and boring in most cases. However explain why teaming with your company will help their customers to buy even more. Then explain a use case with the details of the sales process (make it very tangible, they did this, then that, this is the type of mail, this is the type of call….walk them through = make them better in SALES). On warning here: don’t be arrogant.
Make their life easy: provide them with user cases, sales slides, 1 pagers, datasheets….and yes partners love their own logo more than yours so add it. The better you tune your material to them the more they will use it. I know you love your own logo but it is time to sell and think in efficiency.
Act like your part of their team. They need to feel they can count on you and they are not just one of the many partners they have.
Let them feel they are missing a big opportunity. From time to time I would let them feel other partners are much faster than them. They others are winning market share faster than them. This will create fear of missing out and sales don't like to loose. But as the point above I would tell them I like them more and ask what do they need from you to sell faster.
Be fun to work with - don't complain, don't be annoying and especially never ever sound desperate as they will use you for the wrong things.
Always, always ask for the next step. Next steps are different between the sales leader and the sales in the field. Focus on reporting and feedback to the sales leader. Focus on hands on field work (wingman style) & coaching to the field sales.
Your goal is to get to that first deal quickly. Once you’re there than the others know it is not impossible then we go to phase 2
Phase 2: scaling & organising your partner business for maximum impact
So you got a first deal and now you need to take the partnership to the next level.
This phase is all about leveraging their internal organisation to speed sales up.
Time to leverage that internal champion properly. Use him during internal sales meetings, let him sell internally for you. He should be the main go to person for the rest of the sales team. Now this is a good for the beginning but later you should go as broad as you can in the partner company so there is no single point of failure. Sales do get replaced a lot so like in proper account management broad is key but not at the start.
Tune your sales material with the use case of the win at the partner. Explain how this sales won = the more pragmatic the faster they will be able to sell. I strongly advise to make the use case of the end-user for the partner. They will be to slow, just do it for them. Yes I get that you want them to do things for the margin you are giving away but you want that use case/reference story also.
Joint Lead generation campaigns. We all know the classics but take things to the next level. Every sales leader will complain there is not enough activity so organise call days with the sales team (make it a competition with a price), help on events. Why not create a landing page for them ? Check my Sales Sprint concept.
Don't give extra margin in discount but use it as co-op. Use it for marketing funds so you control the process and on top get your logo on it and book it as a capex cost in your bookkeeping.
- lead registration create a landing page where they can register the leads and this fills in automatically your CRM.
- Create a Partner kit that you update regularly with use cases, sales presentations, movies, tips & tricks...
- Organise trainings: from sales trainings to time managment...whatever your sales team need that is what they will need. Personal development is still number one on the Maslov Pyramid so leverage it with your partners.
- Sponsor their internal events - so they invite you. Be careful on budget as its never enough. Avoid paying the bar bill but pay for a speaker or a trainer. Their managment will be very grateful and you'll have a lot more impact
There is a lot more but that is for the next article.
I absolutely believe that partner models are a great way to scale your business but the lesson is simple: you need to put in the work. Yes it will take time and as in every people business there will be a lot of frustration at both side but keep pushing and tuning the system. If it runs you have struck gold for both parties !
May the Partner Sales be with you !
Your questions are my oxygen so don't hold back !
Michael Humblet is the host of The Sales Acceleration Show, a sales and marketing focussed Q&A show on how to accelerate your business.