Your Ultimate Guide to understanding and selecting the right partners for your business.
In this month's blog we're covering the 8 types of partners you can have to propel your business expansion. So if going international is a goal of yours and you are currently thinking about ways to go about it, keep reading 👇
Are you a technology vendor considering expanding your business internationally?
If so, the thought of recruiting channel partners to help you on your business expansion may have already crossed your mind.
Channel partners can be helpful to fast-track your sales lifecycle, reducing your time-to-market and saving you from a risky initial investment, since they use their own resources and time to generate leads for your business - we've covered the benefits of recruiting and developing a network of channel partners here and some best practices to observe when building new partnerships here.
For all these reasons and more, many businesses - and ourselves included - recommend the recruitment of a set of partners to be a central part of your internationalisation strategy, as it's usually the one with better return on investment (ROI).
Arriving to this conclusion is easy. The challenge arises when you need to discern the different types of partners that exist in the industry and prioritise and select the right ones for your business.
This is why we created this guide. So continue reading for more details on each type of partner or use the shortcuts below:
#1: Transactional Partner
#1: Transactional Partner
Channel partners can be helpful to fast-track your sales lifecycle (...)
And sales are all transactional partners care about. In general terms, they will not have a technical team or structure, nor will they be interested in getting training and providing services on your behalf. Usually, these partnerships are ad hoc (although they can become valuable over time), and focus on the sales transaction involved in the deal and their reward. Transactional partners are often the easiest type of partners to find and recruit.
#2: Specialised Partner
Specialised Partners focus on the transaction but also have technical capabilities that allow them to offer services on your behalf. Most tech vendors prefer this type of partnership, since they're not only able to offer commercial resources, they are also able to provide technical support, if appropriately trained and certified. This is extra important if you do not have a local office in the new market you're expanding to, and therefore having a local team that can troubleshoot on the ground for you is a real plus.
Specialised partners are also the go-to for bigger deals or more strict clients, and can also integrate your solution with their own solutions, providing more value to customers. They are however, usually harder to recruit.
Alliances are tech vendors or consulting companies that have a synergy or offer complementary solutions to your business, and because of a mutual benefit endorse or recommend your product to their customers. In the majority of the cases, Alliance partners will no be in charge of the transaction, but will influence the deal.
These types of partnerships are important thanks to their lobby and the fact that they are usually already recognised in the local market and are seen as trusted-advisors.
#4: Partners that provide services only
In some channel ecosystems makes sense to have partners exclusively dedicated to providing technical support and offering services and training. These partners are a natural extension of your technical team, after proper training and certifications, and offer a better coverage of your technical resources.
Also because they not have sales capabilities, they are a cheaper alternative if you're looking for partners that provide services on your behalf, and could complement well transactional partners.
It may make sense for your to consider adding a Distributor to your channel partner network. This type of partner only sells to channel partners (B2B) and ensures a greater administrative speed and agility, centralising all admin and financials under one roof.
Distributors are able to take care of the invoicing process themselves, saving you costs and protecting your business from potential financial risks.
In addition, if you find a particularly proactive distributor, they can also play an important role in the identification and recruitment of other channel partners for your business.
It's worth to note however, that distributors may not be appropriate to all kinds of business.
#6: MSSP/Outsourcing partners
Also known as service providers, these partners provide the so called 'Managed Services' (MSSP) or 'Outsourcing' to their clients. This type of partnership is a growing trend nowadays, and consists on offering software and hardware solutions as services. These solutions are hosted on MSSP's, where they will be managed, monitored and provided (mostly remotely) by a qualified technical team, so companies can focus on their core business only.
#7: Lobby partners
Lobby partners are another common type of partnership we see being set up. These are usually individual consultants (or micro companies) that have influence and privileged relationships with certain clients, where they are the opinion maker and seen as the trusted advisor.
Lobby partners are often so influential that the success of the deal relies on them and their opinion of your solution, and can therefore be an instrumental part of your channel and sales strategy internationally.
#8: Commission Partner
Commission partners are not interested in invoicing the client. They will help you generate leads and push deals but will only want a sales commission in the end for their role played in the business opportunity. They are unlikely to be your dream partner, as they will want all the benefits without much of the commitments, but can have an interesting role to play in the growth of your footprint locally.
If you're still here congrats! And thank you for sticking with us this far.
Before we wrap up this guide, there's a few things that you should take into consideration:
the partner names in this article are simply illustrative. How you decide to label your partners will be up to you and will depend on your strategy and business goals.
There could still be other "sub-types" of partners, but this list contains the essential.
Just because we've listed 8 different types of partners, it doesn't mean that you'll need or have to recruit them all. In fact, you should define your channel strategy and based on that, select which types of partners are most relevant to you and your objectives.
If you need help navigating the types of partnerships you should set up to expand your business internationally, click here for a FREE 30-min consultation.
About the author
João Beato Esteves is the CEO of United Channels Consulting. He founded the company in 2017 after 20+ years of working in the IT and cybersecurity industries developing channels for prominent companies such as Symantec and disruptive start-ups like Watchful Software.