How to Attract and Retain the Best Channel Partners and Distributors

If you depend on channel partners to take your products to market, you know how important it is to identify, recruit, and retain the best distributors.

When it’s time to acquire new partners, or replace under-performing ones, approach the process as you would hiring a new employee.

When hiring, you consider the experience, background, skills and value a candidate will bring to your organization. Once that ideal candidate joins your team, you provide them with the right tools, resources and feedback so that your new hire can be productive and profitable, and by extension, so can your business. In the same way, the right channel partner selection requires knowing what you want in a partner and communicating your expectations.

You can do this be creating an ideal partner profile — specific criteria used to identify and qualify partners to ensure they possess the attributes required to fulfill the company’s priorities and its target customers’ requirements. Think of it as a job description for hiring new partners that are engaged, productive and profitable.

Some companies even use it to evaluate the growth potential of their existing partners and to help plan and execute channel partner training.

To determine the ideal profile of a partner, here are a few key elements to consider:

  1. What skills and experience do they need?
  2. Does this potential partner possess the right industry focus and technical skills, as well as the right selling capabilities and capacity?
  3. Is this potential partner positioned with the right customer base, geographic coverage and value proposition in relation to other solutions or products they sell?

It bears mentioning that potential partners are vetting you, too. What resources do you make available to them so that they can be successful? Do you provide a streamlined and efficient way to share leads, collect feedback, and distribute critical sales materials including timely updates?

Here, you can put on your sales hat and explain the ways in which your company and your partnership offering are more attractive than your competitors.

Your partner prospects, at least the ones you want, may already be selling other products for other suppliers. You need to introduce your company’s unique value proposition and explain why it will lead to a higher-performing relationship.

Much like employees who perform at their best with the right tools, channel partners excel when given the best tools to drive revenue for their suppliers.  Providing high-quality sales leads, collecting on-going feedback, and proactively engaging to help them improve their sales process all go a long way to retain the best channel partners and recruit the next best one.