10 Tips to Finding the Right Channel Partner Program

Finding an excellent channel partner program is a lot like finding a needle in a pile of needles. Each one promises stellar products, great ROI, and white-glove support. But who can actually deliver on their promises? This blog will help you find out. 

We’ve used our twenty years of industry experience to compile ten tips you can use to find the channel partner program that suits you best.

Table of content

  • Tip 1: Write Down What You Expect from a Channel Partner Program
  • Tip 2: Make Sure You and the Program Provider are Well-Aligned
  • Tip 3: Evaluate The Provider’s Market Reach
  • Tip 4: Ask How They Manage Potential Channel Conflict
  • Tip 5: Evaluate Their Technology and Integration Capabilities
  • Tip 6: Review the Program’s Support Levels and Resource Quality
  • Tip 7: Review Their Financial Incentives
  • Tip 8: Find Recent Referrals and Testimonials
  • Tip 9: Make Sure They’re Committed to Continuous Improvement
  • Tip 10: Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate for Better Terms

Tip 1: Write Down What You Expect from a Channel Partner Program 

It can be tempting to jump into a search without setting your goals and expectations first. However, having clearly defined objectives not only helps you find the right partner program but also gives them a good idea of what your expectations are right from the start. 

Meet with your relevant team members and ask yourself what you aim to achieve through channel partnerships. Do you want to:

  • Expand to new markets? 
  • Increase sales? 
  • Add new capabilities to your current product?

Knowing what your goals are – and keeping a record of them – will be vital in your search for the right channel partner program. 

Tip 2: Make Sure You and the Program Provider are Well-Aligned 

No business wants to partner with a company that doesn’t understand how they work and what they value. Especially after they’ve signed up for the program.

Here are a few good questions you can ask of the channel partner program provider:

  • Do they share your values and mission? 
  • Do their experts and other resources complement your own? 
  • Is this company well-respected in the industry? 
  • Do they have a healthy company culture?

If the answer to most of these questions is an enthusiastic “yes,” they should make it to the next round of evaluations. If you need help finding the answers, use a few strategic Google searches and phone calls to get them.

Tip 3: Evaluate The Provider’s Market Reach 

Market reach – or “marketing reach” – measures how many potential customers a company can effectively reach and influence. The more extensive their reach, the more potential clients you can access.

But size isn’t the only factor to consider when it comes to market reach! It’s also important to consider what kind of markets your potential partner is reaching.

  • Do they serve customers that are similar to – or complement – the ones you’re currently targeting? 
  • Do their markets cover territories and locations you want to reach? 
  • Does their company have a positive reputation with the customers or territories you’re aiming for? 
  • Are they in markets with a pressing need for your products or services?

Answering these questions will help you find a partner program that benefits your team and the partner you choose.

Tip 4: Ask How They Manage Potential Channel Conflict 

Being part of a channel partner program can come with its own unique set of challenges. And your partner should be able to handle them with grace and tact. One of the most common challenges you can face is when you and a fellow channel partner discover you’re selling to the same customers.

Ask your potential provider how they handle these situations. Do they have clear rules in place about channel conflict? Are they willing to mediate when these conflicts arise? 

If they do, you can move forward confidently, knowing that your provider will resolve issues immediately and fairly.

Tip 5: Evaluate Their Technology and Integration Capabilities 

If your goals for a channel partner program include “adding more helpful functions to your current offering,” this tip isn’t a tip – it’s an order. After all, if the partner you’re evaluating can’t play nicely with the tools you have – and the platforms your customers are using – then joining their program is a no-go.

Here are some questions to help you get to the bottom of things:

  • Does their technology work well with other platforms like CRMs, e-commerce systems, and more? 
  • Can their solutions address your current needs and easily grow to meet your future ones? 
  • Do they meet, or even exceed, industry standards for data protection?

The answer should be “yes to all.” But if it’s not, you might not want to pursue that particular program.

Tip 6: Review the Program’s Support Levels and Resource Quality 

Doing it yourself is great when it comes to furniture restoration or craft projects. Sadly, it’s not that great when it comes to channel partner programs. You want a partner that’s got your back and is fully invested in seeing you succeed.

And that dedication starts with their support system.

  • Do they offer training to get you up to speed on their products and services? 
  • Are there marketing materials available to help you promote what you’re selling? 
  • And, most importantly, is there someone you can turn to if you have a question or hit a snag?

Whatever support you need, make sure the channel partner program provides it. Those resources can be the difference between struggling to make the partnership work and absolutely thriving.

Tip 7: Review Their Financial Incentives 

Not all channel partner programs are created equal when it comes to rewards. So be sure you take a close look at your potential partner’s financial structure and do some number crunching. You want to be sure what they’re offering is what your company needs to succeed.

  • How much commission will you earn on your sales? 
  • Do they offer any specific bonuses? 
  • Are there any financial perks specific to this partner program?

If the incentives aren’t attractive enough, the partner program may not be worth your time or effort. So, make sure you crunch those numbers and make sure they add up to a win-win situation for you and your partner.

Tip 8: Find Recent Referrals and Testimonials 

Knowing that the channel partner worked for someone else is a great way to give yourself peace of mind. Over 90 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a brand that was recommended to them.

So, hunt down some references! Contact the provider to ask for a list of their current channel partners or customers. If they’re not willing to provide one, a simple Google search can be very helpful. Once you’ve found a partner or two, get in touch directly and start asking questions like:

  • How has your experience with the program been? 
  • Did it help you achieve your goals? 
  • Were they helpful and easy to communicate with? 
  • Did they give you the tools you needed to succeed?

Getting this type of feedback from companies who’ve walked a mile in the program’s shoes will help you better understand how it would fit you.

Tip 9: Make Sure They’re Committed to Continuous Improvement 

The last thing you want is a provider that’s just standing still when your industry is innovating at the speed of light. But how can you tell if the provider is a trendsetting or playing catch-up?

Consider these questions:

  • Are they keeping up with the times? This looks like adopting new software, exploring new strategies, or just keeping their industry knowledge up to date. 
  • Do they listen to feedback? A program that wants to hear from you is a program that’s committed to learning, growing, and ensuring your mutual success. 
  • Are they willing to take risks? If they’ve launched a new product or service, tried a different sales or marketing approach, or recently entered new markets, you know they’re not content to coast. They want to push the envelope of what’s possible.

An innovative channel partner program is one that will remain profitable for the long haul and is worth its weight in profits.

Tip 10: Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate for Better Terms 

If you’re like 54 percent of professionals, you’re probably not a fan of negotiating. But it’s a natural part of most business processes – and is often expected. So don’t hesitate to speak up and work with your provider to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

If you’re unsure how to start, we’ve got you covered.

  • First, identify what’s most important to you in the partnership – commission structure, support levels, etc. Whatever it is, make sure your priorities and requests are clear. 
  • Second, when you’re ready to negotiate, approach the conversation with an open mind and be willing to compromise. After all, negotiating is not about winning and losing but finding a comfortable middle ground. Be willing to listen and know what items you might be willing to flex on. 
  • Finally, clarify your goals so you and your channel partner program provider understand the expectations you have going forward.

Remember – negotiating better terms means you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Want a Program Obsessed with Your Success? Choose FirstComm 

If you’re looking for a channel partner program that checks all the boxes, FirstComm is for you. We’ve spent the last twenty years building a reputation for excellence, future-proof products, and an arsenal of profitable partners. If you’d like to be one of them, contact our team today! We’d be more than happy to show you what sets FirstComm head and shoulders above the rest.