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The Basics of a Winning Channel Development Program 

Are you ready to take your business to the next level by establishing a successful channel partner program? Then this article’s for you! The experts at P2P will unpack how to build a winning channel development program. Don’t worry if you’re new to the concept—we’ll break it down in simple terms.  

First, What Is Channel Development?  

Channel development refers to the strategic process of building and expanding a network of partners to distribute and sell your services instead of relying solely on your own sales team. This can help you expand your presence in specific markets.  

What Is a Channel Development Program?  

Essentially, it is the formal structure that governs your relationship with your partners. It outlines the terms and conditions of the collaboration, incentives, training, support, and expectations from both parties. A well-designed program aligns your goals with your partners, encourages collaboration between your companies, and provides the necessary resources to both parties to help both succeed.   

The best programs start with a detailed plan outlining how to engage and manage your channel partners effectively. This is called a channel development strategy, and we’ll go over how to build one yourself in the “Pre-Planning Phase” below.  

PRO TIP: A solid channel strategy helps you align your partners with your business goals and maximize the value they bring to your organization.  

Ready to unlock the immense potential of a channel partner program? Let’s dive in!  

How to Develop a Winning Channel Program for Your Business  

Now that you’ve got the basics down let’s talk about how you implement those basics. While each company’s program will differ, most successful implementations follow certain common steps. And we’ve broken them down for you below.  

The Pre-Planning Phase  

In our experience, 90% of the work for your channel program happens well before its launch. Here are the steps you can take to ensure you’re ready to launch a successful program.  

Step 1: Clearly Define Your Objectives  

Determine what you hope to achieve through the channel partners program, such as increasing sales, expanding market reach, or enhancing customer support. Once done, make sure to put it in writing for reference later.  

Step 2: Identify Your Target Partners  

What types of partners do you want to work with? Some factors to consider are: 

  • Industry expertise  
  • Geographical reach  
  • Customer base, and   
  • Alignment with your business goals.   

Partners could include system integrators, value-added resellers, consultants, or managed service providers. Whatever fits your objectives.  

Step 3: Develop Partner Selection Criteria  

After all, you don’t want to work with just anybody. You want partners who are working towards the same goals and offering mutually beneficial services and solutions. Here are a few things to consider when establishing your criteria:   

  • Reputation  
  • Financial stability  
  • Technical capabilities  
  • Customer service orientation, and   
  • Existing network of customers.   

Once that’s completed, and recorded, create an application process to evaluate potential partners against these criteria. An easy way to do this is by using a Google form.  

Step 4: Define & Set Partner Expectations  

It’s crucial that you clearly communicate the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of your channel partners. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure their performance, such as sales targets, customer satisfaction metrics, or market penetration goals. Once that’s done, be sure to establish a formal agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the partnership.  

Step 5: Implement a Partner Incentive Program  

Motivating and rewarding channel partners for their performance is key. Some ideas include:  

  • Sales commissions  
  • Bonuses  
  • Product and service discounts  
  • Access to exclusive benefits.   

You can also celebrate their successes with specific awards too. It doesn’t have to be huge – even a post on your company’s social media page or an email blast recognizing their success will do.  

Step 6: Create a Partner Onboarding Process  

Getting the right partner in the door is done. But what do you do once they’ve signed the agreement?   

This is where the onboarding process comes in.   

Outline what that will look like before launching your program. You’ll want to provide them with the right training, documentation, and resources to understand your products, services, and processes.   

Step 7: Establish a Channel Partner Portal  

Don’t let this intimidate you! It can be as simple as creating a password-protected web page or Slack channel only partners can log into or as complex as creating a platform.   

All that matters is that you provide your partners with access to the resources, training materials, sales tools, and marketing documents they need whenever they need them. The portal can also be a communication platform for sharing updates, news, and best practices among partners.  

Team Meeting and Talking about The Channel Development Program Strategy

The Post-Launch Phase  

Once you’ve completed all these steps, you’re ready to launch your program! Now all that’s left to do is follow these best practices.  

Provide Sales & Marketing Support   

Give partners updated product collateral, sales training, lead generation tools, and marketing materials. You can even collaborate on joint marketing campaigns, co-branded materials, and events to drive awareness and generate sales.  

Monitor & Evaluate Performance   

This will help you maintain a healthy, happy channel program. So be sure you review sales reports, customer feedback, and KPIs to identify areas for improvement. If there are any performance gaps, provide constructive feedback and suggest improvement strategies.  

Foster a Long-Term Relationship  

Offer loyalty programs, incentives for achieving milestones, and opportunities for growth and development. Use the data gathered during evaluations and the partners’ feedback to enhance your program regularly.  

P2P Can Help You with Channel Development and Partnerships  

If you’re ready to establish a partner program, look no further than the tech gurus at P2P. P2P leverages decades of channel development experience to help you get started and see accelerated results from successful channel development strategies. Contact us today to learn how P2P can help you build your channel program and grow your channel sales. 

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