Guest Column | October 17, 2019

The Secret To Recruiting The Right Reseller Channel Partners

By Allen Hoke and Dina Moskowitz, SaaSMAX

Finding The Balance Between Cost And Innovation: Equipping A Flexible Facility With The Right Partner

Before you invest time, money and team resources in recruiting partner contacts, make sure they work for the right partner companies that align with your products.

Our work at SaaSMAX provides us the opportunity to work with hundreds of innovative SaaS, XaaS & Cloud providers, as well as the large community of channel companies (technology advisors, VARs, MSPs, MSSPs, martech agencies, integrators, resellers, etc.) that partner with them.

Most of these next-gen Cloud-based technology providers are transitioning from a direct sales go-to-market approach, to incorporating indirect reseller partnership programs. After all, if one good commission-only partner can get you a handful to dozens of new customers, it’s a no-brainer. Just ask Microsoft.

Don’t End Up In The Swamp

While it is a well-proven path to market, many channel teams blow their budgets and lose a lot of time barking up the wrong trees to find and recruit resellers. Think of it like setting up a golf shot:  if you hit that ball 1 degree off from 300 yards away, your ball could end up in a swamp.

We’ve seen over and over again how channel teams ignore, or just don’t know how, to profile what a qualified reseller company should look like before reaching out to contacts.  They go right to spending money acquiring inexpensive lists of contacts, sending emails, dialing for dollars before even knowing if those contacts work for the right, well-aligned companies. And they even sign quite a few of those mis-aligned companies up, spending even more time and resources on the wrong partnerships.

Reseller partner company identification and qualification is the first critical step toward recruiting a successful, highly-active channel. Contact identification is second and should only be pursued once you identify a strong reseller partner company prospect. This philosophy is grounded in the following channel maxims:

  • Partnerships are about good relationships, but GREAT partnerships are built on solid mutual company success. Success between partners typically creates lasting relationships.
  • Personal relationships may open doors for partnering, but partnerships are about the right business fit between organizations. Poor business fit will always end partnerships, regardless of the people involved.
  • Knowing the right contact at your partner helps, but knowing a company is the right partner is the ultimate goal, and success metric, in recruiting channel partners.

To sum it up:  Successful channel recruitment and activation is mostly about finding the right companies ... then doing whatever it takes to reach the right people in those companies ... versus purchasing a partner contact list and marketing “blindly” to it.

SaaSMAX specializes in helping channel teams find the right reseller partner companies. It’s the foundation of what we do.  As such, we can tell you with confidence that identifying the right partner companies requires that your channel recruitment team invests in addressing the below questions at the start of any partner recruitment initiatives:

  • What are the ideal types of companies that can evaluate and evangelize your product from a place of trust and expertise with their clients?
  • Does your ideal reseller partner company need to know a "horizontal" product or business category really well, and/or do they need to know a specific industry/vertical really well? Make sure you really address these questions.
  • Is industry knowledge important in selling the product?
  • Does your ideal reseller partner need to be focused on selling to a specific company size and/or organization type?
  • Are there geographic limitations to where your ideal reseller partners should be or sell to?
  • Do you want to recruit reseller partners who already sell a product(s) competing with yours, or do you want to find and educate resellers who don’t have any affiliation with your competition?
  • Who within your ideal reseller company prospect would be the likely partnership decision maker (title/role)?  
  • What messaging and value propositions about your product will grab the attention of and intrigue your ideal reseller company prospects?

Increase your recruitment success rate, reduce contact-specific dependence, drive partner business continuity.

Once you know the above answers and you can start to find the right reseller company prospects, next you identify the prospect’s decision maker. Success rates for marketing to the partner contacts will increase, and partner satisfaction can be achieved with little dependence on a single relationship.

About The Authors

AllenAllen Hoke is the Director, Data Analysis and Product Management for PartnerOptimizer at SaaSMAX. He is responsible for client engagement and product management for PartnerOptimizer. Leveraging past senior management roles focused on ISV strategy, relationships and cloud solutions at software vendors like Oracle Corporation, he brings perspectives in partner programs, technology, marketing, sales, support and distribution to SaaS/XaaS vendors and channels companies. Prior to 25 years at software vendors and resellers, Allen started his career in the aerospace industry designing and implementing engineering and manufacturing systems. He is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton, with a BA in Business Management Operations.

DinaDina Moskowitz, CEO, SaaSMAX Corp. is recognized as one of the IT Channel's top influencers and innovators. As Founder of SaaSMAX (including SaaSMAX Marketplace & the PartnerOptimizer business intelligence solution), she was recently ranked #20 out of more than 2800 Channel Executives and awarded the 2017 Cloud Girls Rising Trailblazer Award; included in The VAR Guy’s Top 50 Channel Influencers, recognized by CRN as a Women of the Channel Power 50 Solution Provider, by UBM Tech Channel CRN as one of the Top Women in the Channel (2016, 2015, 2014), served on the prestigious CompTIA Vendor Advisory Council and now serves on their Business Applications Council; and more. Dina Moskowitz has been leading and/or consulting to cloud-based, SaaS and other technology companies throughout her career. Prior to SaaSMAX, Moskowitz was CEO and founder of Critical Digital Data Solutions Inc., which developed cloud-based data storage solutions. Dina has presented at various IT Channel events, including Channel Partners, SaaS University, CompTIA Breakaway, RetailNOW (RSPA) and gSocial 2.0. She is a member of Cloud Girls, a Board Member of The Small Business Web, judge and/or mentor for San Diego Women's Hackathon and other San Diego start-up organizations, and a big advocate of women in SaaS and IT.