Channel product requirements

From a business point of view, there are several requirements for software channel products:

  • referenceable direct sales customers

Customer references serve as proof points for the partner that there is demand for the product.  If you can’t demonstrate customer successes, it will be hard to convince a partner you’re worth the investment.  Partners will also need to leverage customer success stories in their own marketing (see upcoming post on partner marketing). 

  • a willingness and ability to relinquish control over sales cycles and implementations to partners

If a company is unable or unwilling to allow their partners to sell and implement their products, that essentially narrows the possible partner types to referrals.

  • in the case of many software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, the ability to reasonably easily train partners on the product

SaaS products, by their nature, are less complex than traditional enterprise software.  As such, there is typically less services revenue associated with them.  With less revenue, SaaS partners will want to increase the number of deals they can do.  Consequently, if training requires a large or constant investment, that reduces the return for the partner.  

Complex enterprise software products that require a partner to invest time and money to learn are usually in the sweet spot for large systems integrators because of the substantial services revenue streams they can create.    

  • an ability to incorporate partner product feedback

As an indication of its commitment to partners and their customers, the company will want an effective mechanism for incorporating product feedback.

On the technical front, software product requirements include:

  • well documented and current APIs for easy interoperability

Inaccessible APIs or incomplete or out of date API documentation just makes life hard for resellers who want to integrate your product with others.

  • partner tools to enable data migration, workflow and user interface configuration, and any customizations necessary

To help them with implementations, partners need access to the same tools the company’s professional services team uses to perform implementations.

Next: Definition of a Successful Partnership.

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