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How to Build a Channel Partner Program [The Ultimate Guide]

 min read
How to Build a Channel Partner Program [The Ultimate Guide]

Stats show that, for numerous businesses, channel sales frequently make up a substantial share of overall revenue, commonly falling between 50% and 80% of total sales. Channel Partner Programs offer an all-around benefit, allowing businesses to extend their reach, diversify their revenue streams, and tap into new markets. But how do you build a channel partner program that not only aligns with your business goals but also sets you up for long-term success? 

Here, we'll guide you through the essential steps, from laying the groundwork and selecting the right partners to implementing effective management strategies and measuring your program's success. Let’s begin.

What Is a Channel Partner Program?

A channel partner program is a business strategy where a company collaborates with third-party organizations to market and sell its products or services. In this symbiotic relationship, both parties aim to benefit from each other's strengths, thereby maximizing their collective reach, efficiency, and value. 

The channel partner acts as an intermediary between the company and the end-users, helping to extend the company's market presence and drive sales.

Types of Channel Partner Programs

Before we explore the different types of channel partner programs, it's essential to note that a suitable partnership model can make or break your channel strategy. Now, let's take a closer look at the options available.

  • Affiliate Partnerships: In this model, the affiliate promotes the company's products or services to their audience. They earn a commission for every sale made or lead introduced through their referral.

  • Reseller Partnerships: Resellers purchase products from the company and sell them to end-users. This type of partnership can help companies reach new markets without the overhead costs of direct sales.

  • Referral Partnerships: Referral partners recommend the company's products or services to potential customers. They may receive a percentage of the sale or other rewards for successful conversions.

  • Distributor Partnerships: Distributors buy products in bulk and sell them through various channels. They often provide added services like product customization or technical support.

  • Technology Partnerships: In this model, two companies integrate their technologies to offer a more comprehensive solution to end-users.

  • Strategic Alliances: These are long-term partnerships between companies that can involve joint marketing campaigns, product development, and other collaborative activities.

Benefits of a Channel Partner Program

A channel partner program is key to unlocking new avenues for business growth. Here are some of its specific advantages.

  • Extended Market Reach: Channel partners can help you tap into new markets and customer segments that you might not be able to reach otherwise.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Leveraging channel partners can reduce the costs associated with direct sales, such as hiring and training a sales team or investing in marketing campaigns.

  • Increased Revenue: With more avenues for sales and a broader customer base, channel partnerships can significantly boost revenue.

  • Brand Awareness: Partners often engage in co-marketing efforts, helping to elevate brand recognition and credibility in the market.

  • Risk Mitigation: By diversifying sales channels, companies can reduce their dependency on a single revenue stream, thereby mitigating business risks.

  • Expertise and Resources: Channel partners often bring specialized skills, market knowledge, and resources that can complement your business and enhance your offerings.

Challenges of Building Channel Partner Network

Setting up a channel partner network is a strategic endeavor for businesses, but it's not without its challenges. In a landscape where countless organizations are vying for the attention of potential partners, it's crucial to stand out and secure the right alliances. Let's delve into some of the key hurdles that companies face when establishing a channel partner network:

  1. High Competition: With numerous organizations actively seeking partners, vendors must distinguish themselves to attract the right partners who align with their goals and values.

  2. Competition for Sales Teams Support: Partners often sell multiple products or tools simultaneously, creating fierce competition for their sales team's attention and commitment. Vendors need to work diligently to earn a prominent place in their partners' portfolios.

  3. Partner Enablement: Partners often offer a variety of products from different vendors. Consequently, their sales teams may not be adequately trained to effectively sell each product. Vendors must invest in partner enablement programs to ensure partners have the necessary knowledge and skills to promote their products effectively.

  4. Sales Materials for Partners: Even internal sales teams sometimes face delays in accessing essential sales materials and resources, such as demos. When working with partners, these delays can be exacerbated. Vendors must streamline the process of providing sales materials and support to ensure partners can effectively market and sell their products.

How to Build a Channel Partner Program?

Building a channel partner program is a multi-step process that requires careful planning, execution, and ongoing management. Below are the steps to create a successful program.

Step 1: Design Your Channel Partner Strategy & Roadmap

  1. Set a clear structure that aligns with your business objectives. This could mean choosing between affiliates, who can drive more traffic, or resellers, who may be better at handling your specific product. 

  2. Define your program's goals and how you'll measure success. Whether you aim to boost sales, widen your market reach, or improve customer retention, set measurable KPIs like sales volume or customer acquisition cost to track your progress.

  3. Outline the roles and responsibilities of each party to set clear expectations from the get-go.

  4. Focus on selecting the right incentives and rewards. These could range from monetary commissions to exclusive resources or discounts, but they should be enticing enough to attract and keep partners engaged.

  5. Develop a roadmap that serves as a blueprint for your channel partner program. This should detail each phase, from initial recruitment and onboarding to ongoing management and performance evaluations, ensuring that both you and your partners know what to expect throughout the partnership lifecycle.

Step 2: Creating a Channel Partner Agreement

A channel partner agreement is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of the partnership. It should cover everything from roles and responsibilities to revenue sharing and conflict resolution. Consult with legal experts to ensure that the agreement is comprehensive and protects the interests of both parties.

Step 3: Identify the Right Channel Partners

Set up the selection criteria for your Ideal Channel Partner. Look for organizations that tick all the boxes on your list but also align with your business values, have a complementary customer base, and possess the skills and resources to effectively market your products or services. Conduct interviews, don’t forget to check references, and perhaps even run a small pilot program to evaluate potential partners.

Step 4: Develop the Sales and Marketing Collaterals

Effective marketing materials empower your channel partners to sell your product or service. Create a range of sales and marketing collaterals like brochures, presentations, and, above all, product demos.  These should be easily customizable to allow partners to adapt them to their specific market needs.

Step 5: Provide Seamless Onboarding and Training

Once you've selected your channel partners and developed marketing collaterals, the next step is to onboard them effectively. This involves training them on your products, your brand values, and the sales techniques that work best for your offerings. 

According to a recent survey, 46% of companies actually have a strategy for channel enablement, but only 35% provide meaningful coaching and development to their channel sales teams. The easier you make it for your partners to sell your products, the more successful they are, and the more successful you will be.

Step 6: Choose the Right Tool to Manage Channel Partners

Managing multiple channel partners can be a complex task. Investing in a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) tool can simplify this process. A good PRM tool will offer features like communication channels, training modules, and performance tracking, making it easier for you to manage and support your partners.

Make sure to enhance your channel partner program through the use of interactive demos. This will engage potential customers by offering a hands-on experience with your product or service. For more insights on enhancing vendor-partner relationships through interactive demos, check out this blog post on How Interactive Demo Can Help You Succeed in Vendor- Partner Relationship.

Step 7: Empower Partners With Consistent Support

Ongoing support is crucial for the long-term success of any channel partner program. You should maintain regular communication with your partners to provide updates, seek feedback, and offer additional resources or troubleshooting support. This helps in resolving issues quickly and building a strong, long-lasting relationship with your partners.

Is Your Business Ready for a Channel Partner Program?

Channel partner programs offer tremendous value to businesses looking to scale, but they're not a one-size-fits-all solution. It's crucial to assess whether your business is genuinely ready to benefit from such a program. Here are some criteria you should consider:

  • Product Maturity: Is your product or service mature enough to be sold by third parties? If it's still in the beta phase or requires a lot of hands-on support, you may want to wait.

  • Market Demand: Do you have a product or service that has proven market demand? Channel partners won't be interested unless they see a clear opportunity for profit.

  • Sales Process: Is your sales process well-defined and replicable? Channel partners will need a clear framework to follow.

  • Training Resources: Do you have the resources to train your channel partners adequately? This includes not just product training but also sales and marketing support.

  • Financial Stability: Do you have the financial resources to invest in the setup and ongoing management of a channel partner program?

  • Internal Team: Is your internal team prepared to manage and support channel partners? This often requires a different skill set than direct sales.

  • Legal Framework: Are you prepared to handle the legal aspects, including contracts, compliance, and potential disputes?

  • Technology Infrastructure: Do you have the necessary technology to support multiple sales channels, including a robust CRM and partner portal?

If you meet the above criteria and are looking for a tool to kickstart your channel partner program, Demoboost can the stage for a successful channel partner program by offering:

  • External Libraries of Ready-to-use Interactive Demos: With Demoboost, you can set up Demo Libraries and share them with your global partner network at the click of a button. Those can be used for training purposes and as sales materials.

  • Real-Time Insights: The platform provides real-time tracking of demo usage. 

  • Partner Lead Generation- As a Vendor, you too will have access to all the leads generated by your partner and will also be able to support your partner with lead questions. 

  • Ease of Use: With no-code automation, Demoboost reduces the training burden on your team, making it easier for channel partners to get started.

  • Scalability: Designed for scalability, Demoboost can handle multiple channel partners without overwhelming your resources.

Case Study: Enhancing Channel Partner Enablement at Veritas with Demoboost

Veritas, a leading data management company, faced the challenge of ensuring its global partner network had access to up-to-date demo content in a competitive market. They adopted Demoboost, a platform that simplified demo library creation, enabled seamless sharing with partners, and provided valuable usage statistics.

Key Benefits:

  1. Simplified Demo Library Creation: Demoboost made it easy for Veritas to organize demo resources efficiently, creating effective demo flows for partners.

  2. Effortless Sharing: Veritas could quickly share demo libraries with partners, saving time and resources and ensuring message consistency.

  3. Performance Insights: Comprehensive usage statistics allowed Veritas to identify partner performance areas and allocate resources strategically.

Veritas also introduced partner accreditation, motivating partners to enhance their skills and compete effectively in the market.

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Book a demo to empower your channel partners with interactive, real-time demos that convert.


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