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Five Steps to Successful Channel Partner Recruitment. I Am In!

Five Steps to Successful Channel Partner Recruitment. I Am In!

3.1415927. The value of the mathematical constant Pi. Easily remembered with the phrase ‘How I Wish I Could Calculate Pi Exactly’. The letter count in each word gives Pi.

Effective channel partner recruitment has five key steps.

I AM IN helps to remember them. The five steps are just as important to channel partner recruitment as Pi is to calculating the area of a circle.

Let’s explore.


Start by defining what type of partner you’re looking to recruit. It’s particularly important to identify the target partner profile based on likely future success, not just based on past performance. See our recent blog post on seeing through the ‘partner lens’.

The core partner profile might include company size, technology specializations, vendor relationships and geographic coverage. Add complementary profile elements that help understand the market the partner is targeting and how they describe their services to their customers. Find some example companies that appear to fit the bill. Use these companies as a starting point to define what a good partner looks like.


Channel partner recruitment, like many sales processes, is a numbers game. So there need to be enough likely ‘in profile’ partners to generate the required outcomes. But channel partner recruitment is also about quality over quantity. You will want to reach a few companies who are the right fit, not ‘spray and pray’ with a lot of companies who are a partial fit. Getting this balance right is important. The best answer is a mapping approach. We recommend placing potential target partners on a grid based on their future capability to drive sales, mapped against their likely commitment to you as a vendor.


Take a hard look at what you’ll be saying to target companies to convince them that you’re the right vendor to work with. Few vendors are fortunate enough to have a queue of channel partners wanting to work with them, so see it as a sales process. Does the proposition convince? With a partner value proposition it’s usually the case that ‘less is more’ because initial contact will not allow for an in-depth presentation of the offer. Focus on a few simple statements that grab attention and that capture the proposition. Ensure the proposition is relevant to the target partner. We recommend pausing partner outreach after around 10% of target companies have been approached, to assess success and adjust the proposition as necessary.


Set criteria for ‘Partner Intent’. How will you measure outcomes when engaging with potential partners? Typically at bChannels we define three levels of intent  as follows:

3 intents image

LEVEL  1 INTENT: The company is in profile and has no immediate plan to discuss a partnership but will be interested to learn more for the future.

LEVEL 2 INTENT: The company is in profile and is interested to follow up but will need more information before a decision about partnering might be made.

LEVEL 3 INTENT: The company is in profile and will enter now into a discussion with the vendor about the offer and the potential for partnering.

All of the above outcomes are valid and important. That’s because no partner recruitment project generates all Level 3 partner opportunities. Many will be Level 1 or Level 2 and will require nurture.


bChannels calculates that for every $1 put into the list build and outreach phase of a partner recruitment project, $1.25 must be put into the nurture phase. If you don’t invest the $1.25 to nurture Level 1 and 2 partner prospects then in effect you’re throwing away a good deal of the $1 you invested in the list build and outreach phase.

I AM IN … the five drivers of successful partner recruitment. Now, what was the value of Pi ?

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