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The strategies for building successful sales channels in the SaaS world are similar to that of the on-premise world. However, moving to the Cloud does impact several areas:
Invoicing the Client
Who owns the relationship is a matter of who is doing what. If the partner provides the on-going support, handles the billing and collection and sells the renewals, they should own the relationship. However, in the SaaS environment, if the reseller owns the relationship, they may need you to provide the billing engine.
Marketing Support Programs
Marketing to generate leads is the responsibility of the reseller partner – IF that is accounted for in the reseller’s margin. Regardless, you still need to send resellers leads that come in from your other marketing.
In a SaaS environment, driving down the Cost of Customer Acquisition is essential, both for you and for your partners. To make this more efficient you may want to consider supporting your partners with marketing automation capabilities and content marketing materials – which many partners can’t do on their own.
Additionally, many vendors offer market development funds (MDF) and salespeople incentives (spiffs).
A classic way to avoid channel conflict is through lead registration. Other options include:
• Putting a 90-day limit on a registration to avoid partners locking up hundreds of prospects indefinitely.
• Create clear market segments by:
• Vertical market
• Small- mid-sized and enterprise accounts
• Certification for specific products
One of the best communication tools is a partner portal which, at a minimum, should support:
• Lead and sales management
• Placing orders and making payment
• Technical support and training
Monthly sales reporting is important – although, you have to appreciate and be sensitive to the resellers’ natural fear the information will be used to close a sale without them. Keep the requirements simple and only ask them to enter qualified prospects.