For telecom, IT, and cloud suppliers, creating new revenue streams can feel like an overwhelming challenge. And while having a stellar marketing program driving direct customers to your business always helps, sometimes the kick-start you really need requires venturing down a brand new path: starting a reseller program.
If the idea of building out a channel partner program makes you nervous, you’ve come to the right blog. We’ll detail the specifics of the types of reseller programs, how to create one, and how to grow one, so you can get started with confidence.
To Resell or to White Label – That Is the Question
There are two ways to approach starting a reseller program: partnering with agents to resell your solution as it is, or creating a white-labeling program where agents can sell your solution in their own name.
In what’s traditionally thought of as reselling, a channel partner serves as a broker for your product, solution, or service – and resells it to his/her customers. The end customer knows the solution came from you, and you are ultimately responsible for providing service, but the agent takes commission for the sale./
With a white-labeling program, agents will sell your solution under their own brand. You’re responsible for providing support, but the end user is unaware that the reseller didn’t develop the product or solution themselves.
Creating Your Reseller Program
Starting a reseller program requires a few specific steps in order to set yourself up for long-term success.
1. Research if there’s a market for your business.
Before you go full steam ahead with your reseller program, you need to make sure there’s a market for your product, solution, or service. Determine:
- If there’s an audience for your offering
- If you’ll be more successful in a specific geographic area
- What the competitive landscape looks like (oversaturation is a red flag)
How do you determine these things? Good question. The best place to start is with your own business intelligence and sales data. If you are looking at building a reseller program, there is likely a catalyst that set you on this path. You can look at the geographic makeup of your current customer base to find potential areas to start. Another option is using a data insights and intelligence tool like Zoominfo to find an audience with buyer intent that matches your offering.
2. Determine your target audience.
What kind of resellers are you looking to work with? Consider the best fit for getting your offering to market:
- VARs (value-added resellers): VARs add professional services like support to your existing product and resell it as an enhanced solution.
- MSPs (managed services providers): MSPs serve as technology resources to their customers and will want to ensure they can derive steady recurring revenue from reselling your solutions.
- Aggregators: Aggregators serve as a single point of contact for the telecom services they’ve resold – so if you offer multiple carrier services or circuits, the aggregator will simplify billing for your customers.
- Agents: Partnering with a telecom agent is a straightforward way to get your solution to a new audience.
- Consultants: Telecom consultants have established relationships with their clients and can serve as a consistent source of sales for you.
3. Create a clear value proposition.
What does your product, solution, or service offer to the channel partners you’re trying to work with? Craft a clear value proposition so that a partnership with your company is appealing and clearly profitable. Understanding the primary way your product or service provides value to your client base makes creating messaging easier and more effective.
4. Create a sales strategy.
Develop a plan for getting your product, solution, or service to your target audience. Ensure you have:
- All the required assets your resellers will need including sales slicks, pricing sheets, case studies, etc.
- A messaging tool kit to ensure the way they talk about your product in their emails, social media, sales calls effectively promote your offering
- Use Partner Management Software to track your reseller program’s effectiveness
5. Create an internal sales process.
The most effective reseller programs require your involvement throughout the sales process. Develop a plan for collaborating with your channel partners to move end users down the sales funnel.
6. Create partner support resources.
Your partners aren’t the expert on your solution – you are. You’ll need to provide them with:
- A training platform to ensure they understand the benefits of your offering
- A forum through which they can seek support and ask questions
- Tools for lead generation – think shareable content like newsletters, infographics, and sales slicks
- Customer support so that if any issues crop up, your partner isn’t left without resources
7. Set standard expectations for partners.
If you’re starting a reseller program, your goal should be to work with multiple channel partners – which means you need to create a set of standard expectations for all of them. How should they use the messaging you provide? What level of support should their customers expect? Make sure you anticipate any questions that might come up and have an answer that will apply universally to all partners.
8. Create program documentation.
Formal documentation that is readily available to your partners is key to ensure the success of your reseller program. Keep a record of everything from marketing activities to partner education and training to customer support activities.
9. Create a process for data collection, analysis, and reporting.
How will you know if you’re succeeding (or if changes need to be made) if you’re not tracking and analyzing metrics? The most successful reseller programs have proper tools in place for data collection and analysis so that you can make intelligent, data-driven decisions about your program. Marketing automation platforms typically offer analytics and reporting features that will make it much easier for you to measure your progress. At the very least you need to be measuring your website traffic with Google Analytics.
Pro Tips for Starting a Reseller Program
There are a few key considerations to keep in mind that will help your reseller program turn into a powerful new revenue stream:
Stay customer focused.
Increasing your sales is great – but you’ll never develop long-term relationships if your customer support is lacking. Keep your eye on the prize – which is to provide a level of service that matches the quality of your solution.
Target messaging to appropriate segments.
Successful marketing is all about customization and personalization. Segment your target audience by organizing your contact database by specific user properties, like job title or the region they’re in, and create messaging that speaks to their specific pain points.
Use marketing automation tools efficiently.
Leverage automation where it makes sense. For example, if reseller sales are slow you can use a marketing automation tool like HubSpot to run email campaigns with special offers to incentivize resellers. Marketing automation tools are extremely powerful in their ability to communicate complex messaging to a large number of users.
Your reseller program won’t turn into a massive success overnight. Keep track of your data and give yourself enough time before changing direction.
Keep your eyes on the competition.
What are your competitors doing – and why? Take a close look not only at their offerings, but at the mechanisms and messaging they’re using to bring it to the market. If there’s a method behind their strategy, it’s worth looking into in order to stay ahead.
Growing Your Reseller Program
So your reseller program is up and running...now what? If the initial objective was to drive growth, then you can’t just set the program up and forget it. You’ll be able to grow your program if you take these steps:
- Set smart goals for growth. And by smart we mean SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and within a timeframe. Here’s an example of how you might break out a SMART goal you might have for your reseller program:
- Specific: I want to sign on more partners to my reseller program.
- Measurable: I will grow the number of partners by 10%.
- Attainable: Last year, we grew our program by 8%. Given the increased amount of marketing we are doing this year, a 10% increase this year seems achievable.
- Relevant: This goal ties to a bigger company initiative to uplift our partner program.
- Timely: I will measure our success by the end of this year.
- You then need to create clearly defined buyer personas. This helps you understand the different audiences you want to reach in your program. There are several ways to build out your buyer persona’s, but typically looking at attributes like job title, industry, company size are a good place to start.
- With your buyer personas complete you need to develop a plan for how to capture leads from each audience and move them through the buyer’s journey. You want every interaction to move them closer to becoming a reseller partner. So creating compelling content that speaks to the needs of the persona is the best way to do this. Prospects won’t go from the interest stage to close without a compelling experience.
- As you execute your growth plan be sure to monitor the results of your efforts. Most marketing automation tools have some form of reporting that will help. As you measure the results, look for opportunities to test and optimize so your program can maximize its effectiveness – and your revenue.
Download our free ebook for more in-depth information on how to grow your reseller program.
Our Best Advice? Ask for Help
If you’re not an expert in the world of reselling (or marketing, for that matter), you’re probably intimidated by the mere idea of starting a reseller program. Save yourself time and energy and work with an expert partner of your own to get your program rolling and your business growing.
Since 2010, Mojenta has helped telecom and IT suppliers grow through both direct and indirect sales channels. We’re here to give you the support you need to make your reseller program a success and give you a fresh new revenue stream. Reach out today to start building your program.