Even before thinking who to partner with, there's a vital step that's easy to overlook. 💡 What can define a partner program's success is a decision which types of customers to target directly and which via partners.
Here's an illustration. This framework is relevant for both hardware and SaaS.
1️⃣ Start by identifying the optimal channel for each end customer.
Anchor your decision on two factors:
- the strategic importance of the customer segment,
- the complexity of the sale to that segment and the support needed as a result.
How you allocate customers to channels largely depends on your product type, but here is an example:
✔️ Direct - Opt for this route with large, strategic customers where the product fit is essential, direct relationships are key, and they're concentrated in a region you're familiar with.
✔️ Digital channels - These work well for medium to large repeat customers who require less complex, standard products.
✔️ Partners - They might have a strong advantage in serving smaller customers with straightforward needs.
2️⃣ Having identified the 'Who', the next step is the 'How'.
✔️ Map out your ideal coverage and then launch pilots
Pilots help you avoid "analysis paralysis", gain traction quickly, and refine your model.
Don't forget to proactively manage channel conflict between your channels.
✔️ Roll out
Once your program demonstrates positive results, you can roll it out at scale. Set up comprehensive funnel tracking and establish a continuous feedback loop.
With full-funnel tracking in place, you can monitor metrics such as lead-to-quote and quote-to-sale conversions, renewal rates, margins, etc.
Your goal is not only to keep partners happy but also your customers.
Get closer to your customers, listen to their feedback, and refine your process accordingly. Regularly conduct reviews to pinpoint areas for improvement, and don't forget to celebrate your victories along the way.
Developing a successful partnership program is an ongoing journey, not a one-time event. But with strategic mapping and continuous improvement, you can build a go-to-market partnership program that is both successful and enduring.