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Why You Are Failing In Partner Recruitment



When it comes to partner recruitment, thinking that by adding more partners your channel will thrive is an easy trap to fall into. Size matters, but more important is the commitment of your partners. The key to a successful channel is to be smart about how you recruit, and finding the right partners for your business through targeted recruitment.

A strong channel has three things going for it: Branded partners, loyal partners, and the right mix of partners spread across your sales region.

Brand practice partners are key.

In reality, no partner sells to just one vendor. However, a strong channel will have partners with a branded practice around an offering. Successful practice recruitment results in recruited partners who have invested in a branded practice – your branded practice - that’s built around your product. Fortunately for you most partners don’t have a branded practice, meaning plenty of room to develop. On the other hand, beware, because a partner with a multitude of branded offerings, does as much good for you as if they were an unbranded practice.

Loyal partners drive sales.

You might say to yourself, “we already have a broad channel. Isn’t this good enough?” No. There is a strong relationship between a successful channel and partner loyalty. Take the following scenario: your top partner is growing their business along with yours at 30%, at the same time they are also growing with your competitor at 50%. While this partner may be your top partner, the reality is that they’re betting on your competitor and taking you along for the ride. Your “share of wallet” with the partner corresponds to their leading with your brand. Your strategy should be to recruit/build loyal partners - your own loyal partners - first.

Partner mix ensures coverage.

Having the right partner mix ensures that your products, solutions, and your brand are sold across all customer segments and all regions. Without the right mix, you risk missing interested customers and potential growth opportunities for your business. To maximize your potential in the market, you need to have the right partners in the right places.

Combining these three components creates a successful channel, rather than simply providing a large number of partners to manage. Given these complex considerations, you need to think carefully about how you recruit your partner channel.

How do you get there?

First you need to think carefully about how you can modify your partner channel. The matrix below shows four approaches to effectively strengthen your program:

  • Recruit: add new partners
  • Develop: extend current partner skill sets
  • Prune: Modify channel and remove partners with little value add
  • Grow: add a new channel entirely

It’s important to consider all four approaches when evaluating your Partner Recruitment strategy. But don’t make the fatal mistake of focusing on all four approaches at once, or none will be done well.

The next challenge is knowing which approach is the right one. Start by building toward quality and not quantity. To help you know which approach to take and how to strategically build your channel, leverage these 5 C’s:

5C's Indicator Possible Approaches
Capacity Number of partners
  • If you have good partners but your capacity is low, recruit more
Capability Ability of partners
  • If your partners could improve on their capabilities, develop them
Coverage Sales Velocity
  • If your partners could improve their selling, develop sales techniques for more market reach
  • If you have good partners but not enough, recruit more
  • If you want more reach in new areas, grow a new channel
Commitment Your share of the business
  • If your share of wallet with your partners is smaller, prune those partners who aren’t as committed
Connect Attaching what you sell
  • If you want to increase partner sales of new products, develop partners by having them attach your new product to another high selling product and eventually grow a new channel

Partner recruitment is difficult. Need help getting started? Or want to know how to start recruiting unbranded Partners that will create a branded practice around you? Contact Partner InSite for a view of partners in your area of expertise. Whatever approach you take in channel recruitment, keep an eye toward loyalty and avoid mistaking quantity for quality.

Richard Flynn

Richard Flynn

Richard Flynn is a recognized leader in channels and go-to-market business strategy and execution. A Founding Partner and Chief Marketing Officer for The Spur Group, Richard has over 25 years of go-to-market experience in sales transformation, channel management, and customer marketing. He leads the firm’s strategic planning and marketing efforts, including customer experience, competitive strategy, and market execution.