Recruiting partners is an important way to grow your software business. Whether you’re looking to establish OEM relationships, recruit technology partners, or find new value-added resellers, distributors and system integrators, having a well-planned out strategy is essential. Knowing who to target (the types of business as well as the key decision-makers within those accounts) and tailoring your value proposition to each individual will help you stand out from your competitors. Here are five tips to kick-start your partner recruitment initiative to ensure success.
Conduct market intelligence
Understanding as much as you can about an account will help you determine the business potential they represent. Researching information on the types of clients they have, their market share, geographical coverage and priority projects will give you more ammunition to tailor your pitch (or exclude accounts that wouldn’t make good partners for you). Implementing a strategy to conduct deep market intelligence will help you monitor changes to industry trends over time, putting you in a better position to understand the needs of your target audience and shape your partner program accordingly.
Leverage existing partners and customers to establish trust
Many marketers make the mistake of believing that everyone is interested in exploring partnership opportunities. The reality is that it simply isn’t true. Resellers are not going to add a new product to their portfolio without being sure the product will sell and be a profitable addition to their business. ROI needs to be proven in order for any OEM relationship to prosper as well. By leveraging your success stories and creating true word-of-mouth marketing you can establish trust with your target personas and get them to see the benefit of partnering with you.
Be present on and offline
Buyer personas are savvier than ever as information is readily available across channels 24/7. You need to be present where your audience is, which means covering your bases both online (in groups and forums, on social media platforms, through SEO and SEA etc) and offline (by proactively reaching out to prospects via e-mail and phone). If you want to reach potential partners, you cannot sit back and just expect them to come to you. You need to be proactive in order to initiate a relationship (on and offline) and kick-start the discussion on the channel of their choice.
Create engaging content
Content can help establish thought leadership, increase brand awareness, and educate your audience about your offers. It is important to have a wide range of different types of content, and that you make sure it gets into the right hands. Using sponsored content tactics in addition to SEO can help increase visibility for your offer, but when you are marketing to channel partners you need to rethink the “what’s in it for me?” messaging so that it is shifted to the partner’s point of view. For that you need to answer some simple questions:
- What will I get out of the partnership? How will this partnership help grow my business?
- Why should I partner with you instead of your competition?
- For reseller partners: Will you help me sell your product?
- For OEM partners: How will integrating your product into mine make my product better?
- What is the expected ROI?
Your content should be built around those frequently asked questions, and when possible, cite real-life success stories that you have built with other partners.
Stay in touch
Lead nurturing is very important and making sure that you stay in touch with potential partners will help you improve conversion rates over time. Decisions about strategic partnerships are not made overnight — sometimes the process can take months to finalize. It is not unusual for warm leads to go cold, and for people to lose interest just because day-to-day priorities take over. Staying in touch (even just with a short e-mail to ask what’s new) will help you to stay on your prospect’s radar and may reignite interest when the time is right.
Recruiting partners is a process that needs to be well thought out and carefully planned. Selecting a targeted list of priority accounts and using an ABM approach to recruitment can a great way to optimize your outreach efforts since it will help ensure you focus your attention on the best potential partners.