If there's one thing I've learned about building and running a business in this industry, it's that people want things done quickly. They want results right away -- or at least they expect them within a reasonable time period -- and if something doesn't happen fast enough then they'll start looking elsewhere.
This isn't just me talking here - it's been proven by countless studies across many industries around the globe. And so when we were approached by our Swedish client Appland to help them grow their business and reach new markets, we knew that having an effective partner program was going to be key to unlocking the full potential of their offering.
In fact, we even went out on a limb and suggested that if they wanted to really stand out from the crowd then they should look into implementing a partner program for their product range because it would allow them to tap into the existing network of resellers who could provide support to end users in different countries worldwide. We also recommended that they consider creating a channel partner program based on a well-known model like the Open Value Exchange (OVE) Framework which has already been used successfully by companies such as Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Intel.
So let's take a closer look at some of the questions that are usually asked by those considering whether to implement a partner program and see exactly how a good one can help your company achieve more sales, attract greater customer attention and ultimately boost revenue.
The first question most businesses ask themselves when thinking about a partner program is "What kind of relationship will I need to have with my partners?" The answer depends largely upon where your business currently stands in the market and how much control you want to exert over the process. But no matter what stage you're at, you still need to make sure that all parties involved understand each other clearly and are aligned towards achieving common goals.
To get started, you might think about starting small and working through these five steps before moving onto the next phase:
1. Identify your target audience. Who are the people you'd like to interact with, both now and in the future? What is the demographic profile of your ideal partners? How large does it need to be? You might also want to determine if you only want to focus on certain types of partners, e.g. retailers vs. distributors. This information will help shape your approach for identifying and cultivating suitable partners.
2. Create a list of candidates. Start off with your own team members and then expand the search outward until you cover every member of your organization. It may sound obvious but don't forget to include any third party vendors you use regularly either online or offline. If they aren't part of your internal candidate pool yet, why not give them the opportunity to join up?
3. Conduct interviews. Once you know who you want to talk to, schedule appointments and conduct face-to-face meetings, preferably outside of normal office hours. Be open minded during this step and try not to impose too many restrictions while asking questions. Try to find out what motivates individuals to work together and how they plan to collaborate in order to meet mutual objectives.
4. Prepare proposals. Depending on the size of your organization, you might want to prepare a proposal document that outlines the benefits for partners as well as the requirements for joining the program. Make sure the content is clear and concise so everyone understands what is expected of them. Also ensure that you address the following points:
· Aims and objectives. Describe the core values behind the partnership and the vision for success.
· Commitment level. Clarify how long partners will commit to the agreement and outline their responsibilities. Don't forget to include details regarding training courses and certification programs.
· Compensation plans. Offer incentives to partners who go above and beyond expectations. Explain how payments will be made and when.
5. Signing documents. Before making agreements official, always run everything past legal counsel. Remember to keep copies of signed contracts and send them directly to your partners once the deal closes.
Once you identify your initial targets, you will need to break down further into subgroups and assign each group to specific tasks. For instance, you could divide your partners into groups based on geography to manage the distribution of resources efficiently. Or perhaps you decide to separate partners according to the type of products and services they offer. Whatever method you choose, remember to set clear roles and responsibilities for each position.
For instance, you might require partners to submit monthly reports detailing their progress toward meeting agreed milestones. Alternatively, you could appoint someone to act as the liaison between channels and suppliers as well as the point person responsible for handling complaints and disputes. Each role must be assigned a specific title, job description and budget allocation.
Another important consideration is deciding what metrics you will measure against. At the very minimum, you should aim to establish KPIs for performance indicators including cost savings, sales volume and number of leads generated per month. These numbers will form the basis of your compensation formula.
Finally, define terms and conditions for partners to participate in your program. Some basic issues to discuss include payment methods, confidentiality provisions and termination clauses.
Now that you have identified your target audiences, created a list of prospective partners, conducted interviews and established guidelines for entering into partnerships, you're ready to launch your program! So who is actually qualified to become a partner? Well, you could simply invite anyone interested to apply. However, doing so risks diluting the quality of applicants since anyone can put forward a resume and claim to be able to deliver what you need. Instead, you want to select only those whose skills match your needs and align closely with your overall strategy.
You may wish to consider partnering with organizations dedicated specifically to the area of expertise required, i.e. with trade associations, professional bodies or local chambers of commerce. There are plenty of opportunities available for smaller companies to access funding through grants provided by government agencies and private foundations. Finally, it's worth checking out community events like networking nights hosted by local chamber offices to discover potential partners in your own backyard.
As you probably guessed, the main task for channel partners is to promote your offerings. As soon as you've launched your partner program, you'll need to encourage existing partners to spread the word to their networks and tell others about the value proposition behind your solution(s). In addition, you'll need to educate prospects about how your solutions work, what makes them unique and how they benefit customers.
Channel partners' efforts will vary depending on your current marketing strategies and how you intend to engage with them. Sometimes, you'll prefer to rely on traditional media platforms such as TV ads or print publications. Other times, social media campaigns will prove far more effective. Whichever route you choose, make sure to communicate effectively throughout the entire lifecycle of your campaign.
It goes without saying that being active on social media sites like LinkedIn and Google+ is crucial to maintaining visibility among your target audiences. To maximize exposure, you can leverage tools such as Facebook advertising to direct traffic to your website. Of course, that won't mean anything unless you have compelling offers and relevant landing pages. After all, nobody wants to waste their precious time reading a lengthy page filled with irrelevant text and images. Therefore, you should optimize your site design and copywriting to improve conversion rates.
At the same time, you should avoid relying solely on paid advertisements since they tend to generate lower clickthrough rates than organic posts. Instead, you should place your adverts strategically alongside articles written by credible sources and share valuable insights via blogs published on your own websites. By engaging your readers in conversations surrounding topics related to your brand, you'll increase the chance of attracting genuine interest and generating high levels of engagement.
But the real test comes after launching your campaign. Now you'll need to monitor the effectiveness of your outreach activities and adjust accordingly. That means keeping track of ROI figures and measuring the impact of individual actions taken. When the dust settles, try analyzing data collected using analytics software to uncover trends and patterns that will enable you to refine your strategy.
Ultimately, you'll want to develop a system that allows you to continually evaluate your partners' performances and drive continuous improvement. Your goal is to nurture strong relationships with your partners and foster trust and loyalty so that you receive regular updates on the latest developments in their respective fields. As a result, you'll enjoy increased revenues and profits over time, helping your bottom line flourish.
The partnership between your business and a third party (known in sales terminology as a "partner") can be an extremely powerful tool for growth. It's easy to see why so many companies are now using them - there are numerous benefits that come with partnering up with others who offer complementary products or services. One such benefit is increased visibility, which leads to greater awareness of your brand, product, and service. The more people know about your offerings, the better chance you have at attracting new clients and increasing revenue.
But just like any relationship, it takes time and effort before it blossoms into something meaningful. Here we'll take a look at some tips on creating a successful partner program, from building partnerships with partners to maintaining ongoing relationships. This guide will also help you understand exactly what makes a good partner program and how to design one specifically for your own needs.
Before you even think about getting involved with another company, you need to decide if they're someone worth working with. In order to do this, you should first find out all you can about their industry, market, and competition. You want to make sure that your potential partner has enough knowledge about yours -- otherwise, they may not fully grasp the value you bring to the table. Once you've found a suitable partner, you must then work together to define your respective roles within the partnership.
It goes without saying that both parties need to agree on these terms prior to entering into formal agreements. A common mistake made by businesses looking to form a partnership is assuming that everything will happen automatically once the two sides enter into a contract. While signing contracts does lay down certain ground rules and expectations, these are only guidelines, not hard and fast laws. Both parties still have freedom to negotiate whenever necessary. By having clearly defined parameters and understanding each other's goals and objectives, you can ensure that your partnership works well.
Also, when establishing your agreement, remember to consider things such as fees, costs, and payment schedules. Some industries require monthly payments while others ask for lump sum payments upfront. Regardless of whether you pay quarterly or yearly, always put clear stipulations regarding how much money comes out of pocket for each transaction. If you don't do this properly, you could end up losing valuable cash flow due to late fees or penalties.
To give you a little bit of inspiration, here's a list of questions to get you started thinking about how you might go about forming a partnership:
What is my target audience? What kind of customer do I want to attract? Who am I trying to reach?
Who else offers similar products/services? How does my offering compare to theirs? What differentiates us? Do our solutions complement each other? Can our strengths compensate for weaknesses?
Do I already collaborate with anyone similar to my partner? Are those collaborations mutually beneficial? Would it be possible for me to integrate existing channels into my new ones?
What are the main ways I sell my products? Which methods generate the most profit? Why would someone buy from me instead of my competitors?
What is my ideal client profile? Where do I expect to see the largest demand for my solution(s)? Is there anything special about my ideal client? Does he/she fit into a specific demographic?
Are there any obstacles or challenges my current sales team faces? What do I need to overcome them?
Is there room for improvement in my marketing strategy? What areas do I want to focus on developing further?
What are my financial projections? When can I start seeing returns on investment? Will my efforts lead to exponential results?
How long should my partnership last? How often do I plan to renew it? At what point should I begin looking for alternatives?
Partnerships serve several purposes, but typically fall under three categories: branding, distribution, and sales promotion. Each of these focuses on bringing the two companies closer together and helping them grow together. Branding involves making sure that both your firm and your partner's name appear equally prominent across various media outlets. Distribution refers to ensuring that both firms' products are available in retail stores where consumers live, shop, eat, etc. Sales promotion entails promoting both brands through advertising campaigns, events, seminars, etc.
You can use the same techniques to promote your partner as you would yourself. For instance, let's say you sell widgets online and your partner sells widgets offline. Perhaps you'd like to expand into selling widgets via mobile phone apps. To achieve this goal, you could advertise your app on billboards around town and encourage users to download your widget onto their phones. Likewise, your partner wants to increase their presence in local malls too. They might hold promotional events in conjunction with your campaign, giving away free samples of their products along with branded merchandise. Whatever tactic you choose, just keep in mind that you have to show off your partner's brand alongside yours. Doing so shows that you care about growing your brand as well, and encourages buyers to stick with you rather than switch to a competitor.
Once you've established your partnership, you'll need to establish a way to communicate regularly. Ideally, you'll conduct regular meetings to discuss progress and share ideas. But depending on the size of your organization, how frequently you meet depends largely on the type of relationship you've formed.
For smaller organizations, weekly meetings and quick calls every couple days may suffice. On the other hand, larger corporations usually prefer to set aside dedicated hours to talk about important matters. It's crucial to establish strong communication lines between the two companies because nothing kills a partnership faster than miscommunication. And no matter how big your organization gets, everyone should strive to maintain open lines of communication at all times.
There are countless variations of partner programs, ranging from simple loyalty schemes to full-blown integrated marketing strategies that involve multiple departments. Most companies implement partner programs for one reason or another. Sometimes, they simply try to reward loyal customers. Other times, they seek to improve overall efficiency and productivity. There are plenty of reasons to incorporate partner programs into your company culture, but it's important to note that the success of partner programs depend heavily on the management style of your company itself.
If you run a small startup, you probably won't have the resources to dedicate a lot of manpower towards managing a partner program. Instead, you'll likely need to hire outside consultants to handle the job for you. Large companies, however, tend to manage their partner programs internally. So regardless of whether you're a solo entrepreneur or part of a huge corporation, finding a great partner program isn't impossible! Just make sure that you follow the right steps and learn from past mistakes.
So if you're ready to find a partner program that fits your company's unique needs, read on below to discover some excellent options.
In addition to setting up a formalized partner program, you'll also need to figure out a way to distribute your goods to retailers. To do this effectively, you'll need to have a solid network of distributors. These individuals act as middlemen between manufacturers and retailers, and play an integral role in determining the price at which your wares are sold. However, since distributors don't necessarily represent your company directly, it's difficult to guarantee that they'll pass on your discounts. Therefore, it pays to treat them fairly. Make sure that you provide quality support, and never push them beyond their limits. Otherwise, they'll become disgruntled and stop doing business with you altogether.
Another thing you need to worry about is managing your inventory levels. Distributors rarely stock items in large quantities. Because of this, you'll either need to purchase additional supplies ahead of time, or ship them directly to individual customers. This means that you'll have to track orders closely and constantly monitor shipments. Fortunately, there are software tools designed to streamline this process. Using these applications allows you to centralize all your shipping data and keep tabs on your entire supply chain.
Finally, you'll need to determine how you intend to incentivize distributors. Often times, incentives include discounted prices, promotions, and bonuses. Depending on the amount of business your distributor brings you, you can adjust the level of incentive accordingly. Additionally, some companies will allow their partners to earn commissions based on their performance. With these types of compensation plans, you'll gain access to top performers quickly. As a result, you'll save time and energy on recruiting and training new hires.
Ultimately, the purpose of a partner program is to maximize profits for all involved parties. That being said, you'll inevitably encounter situations where some members of your group aren't performing as expected. Whenever this happens, it's imperative to reevaluate every aspect of the partnership. Maybe your supplier failed to deliver on time, or maybe you didn't receive the correct quantity of goods. Either way, you shouldn't hesitate to confront issues head-on. Neglecting problems merely invites chaos.
When it comes to building and managing a partner relationship with your partners, there are many factors that go into making sure they succeed long term. One important factor in particular is creating an effective partner program. This includes all of the processes involved from identifying potential partners to developing relationships and ultimately ensuring these partners stay around for the long haul.
If this sounds like something you want to learn more about, we have put together a complete guide on how to build a partner program here. We will explain everything from the basics of establishing your own partner programs up to some great tips for how to create a winning partner program. We'll also look at ways to improve existing partnerships by offering advice on things such as how to manage partner relationships or how to grow your business through new channels.
In addition to this, we've taken our time to find out exactly which elements make up a strong partner program so that you can get started right away! Our guide below has been handpicked from several different articles written by industry experts across multiple industries - including IT & Telecoms, Retail, Banking, Insurance and Travel.
As always, if you're looking for additional resources, be sure to check out our list of online marketing tools and services. You should also keep reading because we'll continue to update this article regularly throughout 2020, adding more information on the latest trends in digital marketing.
To begin with, let's take a quick look at why having a solid partner program is so essential when working with any type of partner. Without one, you won't know who to work with, how much money to pay them, or even whether or not they'll actually deliver results. In short, without one, you run the risk of wasting time and money trying to figure out the process yourself instead of letting the professionals handle it for you.
The most obvious benefit of using a third party to help you with your partner program is cost savings. By outsourcing the entire process, you eliminate the need to hire someone full-time just to manage your partner network effectively. Instead, you can simply focus on growing your company while relying on others to do the heavy lifting. That said, though, it isn't only about saving money. A well-designed partner program allows companies to ensure their partners meet certain standards before signing them onto the platform. These include things like delivering measurable results, providing accurate data, keeping track of payments, etc. And once you've signed up a few qualified partners to join your program, you can use the system to continually monitor their performance and determine which ones deserve further investment.
Another big advantage of partnering up with other businesses is that you can avoid duplicating efforts. While it may seem logical to try to save time and money by doing everything yourself, often times this ends up being counter-productive. When you operate your own business, you typically have limited bandwidth and no team members dedicated solely to handling partner relations. As a result, you might spend countless hours researching products, meeting with people, writing emails, etc., but you never end up getting anything done. On top of that, you could easily miss opportunities due to lack of attention. For instance, you may overlook a customer opportunity or fail to see a competitor's weakness until too late. Partnering up with another business means you can delegate tasks to employees who specialize in this area, freeing up everyone else to focus on more critical areas of growth.
And finally, by partnering up with other firms, you gain access to specialized knowledge. Even though you probably already possess plenty of skills to run your own business (and don't forget those valuable networking connections!), you still stand to learn quite a bit from other organizations. Just think about it: If you had to start from scratch every single day, wouldn't you rather rely on someone else to teach you what you needed to know? The same concept applies when it comes to finding qualified partners. Although you likely already have experience in selecting vendors and negotiating deals with suppliers, chances are you'd appreciate learning more from experienced colleagues. After all, nobody knows your product better than you! It's easy to become complacent after years of running your own show, but by joining forces with other businesses, you have the chance to tap into the expertise of others.
Once you've decided to establish a partner program, the next step is deciding whom to work with. Before you reach out to anyone, however, consider a couple of questions first. First off, ask yourself whether you really need to involve other vendors in order to achieve your goals. Chances are, there are other options available to you that would allow you to accomplish the same thing without requiring outside assistance. For instance, you could choose to implement a sales funnel strategy within your organization in place of working with external parties. Alternatively, if you're interested in leveraging the power of social media, you could set up a Facebook page or Twitter account to promote your offerings. Finally, if you're planning on launching a website, you could hire a web developer to design and maintain it -- although you shouldn't expect them to sell subscriptions for you either. Each of these methods offers similar benefits to selling directly to consumers, yet doesn't require you to bring in outside partners.
Next, when evaluating prospective partners, be careful not to fall victim to false promises. Sometimes, people offer to provide "expert" support without ever saying explicitly what this entails. They say things like "I'm going to send you weekly reports", "we'll give you free training materials", or "you won't have to worry about dealing with clients". Unfortunately, none of this is true. All of these claims are made merely to lure you in and then disappear once the deal closes. So, be cautious before agreeing to enter into a partnership agreement. Make sure that whoever you select understands what the job involves and what he/she is expected to produce.
Finally, remember that the quality of a vendor depends largely upon his reputation. To protect against fraudsters, it's wise to conduct thorough background checks on each individual you plan to engage with. Ask friends, family, former coworkers, previous employers, etc., to vouch for him/her. This way, you can minimize the likelihood of encountering problems down the road.
Before you embark on a journey with a partner, it pays to understand the dynamics between both parties. There are two main types of relationships: direct and indirect. Direct partnerships occur where two individuals directly negotiate agreements with one another. Indirect partnerships happen when one person works alongside another indirectly via intermediaries. With indirect arrangements, the intermediary makes contact with the second entity and negotiates terms based on what was agreed upon during initial negotiations.
While direct partnerships tend to function smoothly, it's rare for indirect partnerships to survive for very long. Because of this, it's imperative to clearly communicate expectations and responsibilities between the two parties. Also, it's vital to define clear roles and boundaries early on so that neither side feels pressured to compromise his/her position. Lastly, it's crucial to make sure that both sides feel valued and respected.
Keep in mind that it takes time and effort to develop a healthy partnership. In fact, studies indicate that the average lifespan of a commercial partnership lasts anywhere from six months to three years. However, if you invest enough energy in nurturing the relationship from the beginning, you can increase the odds of enjoying a mutually rewarding arrangement for longer periods of time.
Ultimately, the goal of any partner program is to identify high performers and nurture them towards becoming market leaders. Once you've identified your ideal participants, it's time to measure their progress. How does one quantify success? Well, this obviously varies depending on the specific circumstances surrounding each case, but generally speaking, you can measure a number of variables to gauge overall performance. Here's a brief overview of the most common criteria used to analyze partner performance:
Sales volume: Sales volume refers to the total amount of revenue generated by each partner in a given period. Typically, this would refer to monthly totals.
Customer retention rate: Customer retention rate describes the percentage of current customers who remain loyal to your brand and purchase from you again. Ideally, you want to aim for numbers above 90%.
Revenue per employee: Revenue per employee measures the value created by each member of staff who contributes to achieving your business' financial objectives. For instance, a retail store owner's revenue per employee would reflect the amount of funds earned by each associate, divided by the total number of associates employed.
Loyalty rates: Loyalty rates describe the proportion of customers who return to buy goods and services from you repeatedly. Generally, this metric refers to repeat purchases within a specified timeframe.
Return on investment: Return on investment measures the profitability gained by implementing a specific initiative. For instance, if you decide to launch a new service or upgrade your technology infrastructure, you can calculate ROI by comparing the costs associated with deploying the project versus how much income it generates.
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