Recruiting effective sales partners and alliances to drive channel sales is a keystone in the work of any successful channel sales manager. Unfortunately it is also one of the most challenging and least well understood activities in the channel profession. The result is that many channel sales teams end up with a colourful mix of partners, some effective but many less so. A general rule of thumb seems to be that the Pareto Principle tends to apply to most company’s channel ecosystems: 20% of channel partners drive 80% of channel sales.

Does it have to be this way? Of course not. There are many strategies and models that can be used to facilitate a more effective channel partner recruitment program to enable channel sales managers find and on-board higher performing partners.

Sales Partner Recruitment Strategies

As a starting point, a simple tool like S.W.O.T analysis can be an enormous help in focusing the channel recruitment program on finding the best-fit channel partners for the organisation. S and W stand for Strengths and Weaknesses and represent the internal aspect of the company while O and T are the external factors representing Opportunities and Threats facing the company.

S.W.O.T analysis can be enormously helpful in making sure that only partners who are aligned with the company’s direction are recruited. It also helps the company to identify where they have gaps in partner coverage, and specifically seek out channel partners who can fill those gaps.

Another strategy tool that should be used in channel sales training courses is the P.E.S.T.L.E MODEL. This can be used in channel sales programs to train channel sales managers how to methodically review the external environment in order to understand what changes are happening in the market and industry. This will help them to look for channel partners that will be aligned with the organisation’s future needs as it adapts to changing conditions in their industry and markets.

After the organisations strengths and weaknesses have been plotted against the external opportunities and threats we can start to evaluate where the company might “play to win” in the future. The GE Matrix is an effective tool that brings together all of the relevant aspects, allowing the executive team then choose the market segments to dominate in five years’ time, what strengths they will use to get there, and what strengths they need to build in the meantime if they are to achieve their goals.

Recruiting the most effective channel sales partners can often be a confusing and frustrating activity for channel sales managers if they do not have the right training. By learning about some of the more effective tools, models and strategies taught in channel sales training programs the channel manager can build a framework that can act as an effective guide. The goal is to change the numbers in their favour. Instead of having a partner ecosystem that works off the Pareto Principle with 20% of channel partners delivering 80% of the channel revenue they can seek a more balanced model where channel revenue is less reliant on a small number of effective partners.