Partnerships: Building Your Channel 101
Step 1: The Partner Profile
As a founder and entrepreneur, finding partners that can accelerate growth and drive revenue can be daunting:
- How do you find the right partners?
- Where should I focus first in building channels?
- How many partners is enough?
There are just endless questions, and its difficult to figure out how to get started. With time being your most valuable asset, a wrong move can create a disaster. So this is the first post in a series on building your initial channel strategy, and we’ll cover how to build a partner profile.
What is a partner profile?
Building a partner profile can help steer and guide your channel building journey, and avoid the wrong types of partners. It can also significantly reduce Time-to-revenue (TTR). So what criteria should be used to evaluate partners and target alliances? For the purposes of this article, assume a referral or reseller partnership in tech/software. Here is a quick outline of questions you should ask:
- Ask yourself why. Defining the benefits of any partnership is an absolute first step.
- Will it be a two way relationship? There has to be a two way benefit stream, and you need to clearly outline why this partner is good for your business and why they will benefit from your business. So many times in my career I have inherited relationships that just make no sense, where so much time treasure and talent have been wasted for naught.
- Is there a clear path to revenue? You have to win the hearts and minds of the partner sales team in order to drive revenue, and if its hard, or there are barriers, sales reps always take the path of least resistance. If it slows down the sales cycle or introduces unnecessary complexity and approvals, you are done before it begins. Training reps to see the advantages is critical.
- 1+1=4. There has to be a multiplier effect when combining offerings, and it needs to be clear and concise, and easy yo understand in sales terms.
- Do they have the sales skills? I was around when copiers first became connected to networks. This enabled network printing and scanning, which was complete witchcraft to old school copier salesmen. They just couldn’t wrap their heads around the concept and could not sell solutions. Make sure the partner sales team has the skills to succeed with your product.
This list is definitely not all inclusive, but drives the thought process on how to build a checklist for partner attributes.
The Partner Checklist & Profile
So as part of the exercise, you can now build a profile. Assume we are an Artificial Intelligence company that has created a solution to detect fraudulent US tax returns. We want to build a list of implementation partners that can resell and leverage our cloud AI models.
Partner Business Type: Technology System Integrators/Consultancies
Industry Specialties: Banking, Tax & Audit
Geographic Footprint: US
Specific Technology Team Skills: Custom code, AI, AWS
Solution Profile: Tax solutions, fraud detection, Know your customer
Innovation Footprint: Tax Solutions Innovation Team, Startup Evaluation Program
This would be a great first draft, but the profile is an iterative list. As you learn, present and get feedback, you can define this success profile with characteristics that will further refine your targets and provide a template for success.