Building channel partnerships by Heidi Tucker

by Phil Freo

Close is at today’s Sales Hacker Conference in San Francisco and we’ll be taking notes and sharing the best talks of the conference with you. List of all talks.

HEIDI TUCKER, VP of Alliances & Business Development

HEIDI TUCKER, VP of Alliances & Business Development, InsideView

Top 10 reasons not to partner.

About InsideView

  • Founded in 2005
  • Mission: To give sales people access to better information, social media, LinkedIn.
  • Grown to 350K users
  • In 350 companies
  • Evolving from direct sales only to a channel company.

Sales challenge

  • 92% of buyers ignore unsolicited contacts.
  • Takes more time for sales reps to pitch and sell products than it used to.
  • Buys have made up their mind before they even contact you.

They partner with most CRM and marketing automation companies.

Why partner

  • Exponential distribution:
    • Having partners is way more difficult than selling direct.
    • Dont have a quota.
    • Can’t fire them.
    • Don't have to learn as much about your product.
    • But if you can get them to come on board you get an exponential multiplier.
  • Rapid entry into new markets
  • Industry expertise
  • Added value to products/services
  • Brand building

Partner options

  • Affiliates
    • Organizations and groups are great affiliates.
  • Referral
    • Takes more work.
    • Identify partners.
    • Provide training.
    • They refer deals to you.
  • Pre-sales
  • Re-sale
    • Partner runs the last portion of your sales processes.
  • Integration/OEM
    • Can take a long time, but there is an advantage to partner with larger company to get better distribution.
    • Have a long-term view.
    • Tremendous amount of persistence needed, as this can take years to get done.

Tip: Keep it simple. Make it simple for partners to understand it and sell it.

Assembling the channel team

  • Keep your channel team completely separate from your sales team.
  • Dont have a model where the channel sales team refers business to your internal team. That doesn’t work because each group has different priorities.
  • Dedicate marketing person for channel partners.
  • Beyond that you can have shared resources with the rest of the company.

Value proposition

  • Think hard about what is unique that you are bringing to your channel partner.
  • What about you is important to the partner?

Partner motivation

  • Competitive differentiation
  • Fill product/service gaps
  • Revenue (last priority)
    • 20–25% for referral customer to you
    • 30–50% commision if they do the entire sales process

Build. Buy. Partner.

  • Simple. Lucrative. Risk-free.
    • Nothing kills partnerships such as even the littlest risk.
  • Know your value to your partner
    • Easiest way to find this is to ask the partner.
  • Long-term commitment
    • At least 2 years.
  • Recruit broadly, focus on results
  • Self-service partner portal
  • Enable a partner champion. Dedicated channel team
    • Give attention to 1–2 partners and help them be super successful.
  • Partners vs. friends
    • Ok if some partners don’t produce, keep it in mind they are more friends than partners.
  • Reference ability
    • Whatever you have to do to get the first few wins that you can use as references.
    • Go for logos rather than big deals.
    • More references can help channel partners be more successful.

Next steps

  1. Check out notes from other talks from Sales Hacker Conference.
  2. Try out Close to track your sales communication automatically.