• Bruce Sherman

Partner Channel Tip: Develop an Ideal Partner Profile (IPP)

One of the leading challenges facing channel partner leaders in the B2B tech space has been and remains to be, what they see in the way of the gap between the number of “active partners” (regularly generating revenue) and the number of “inactive partners” (deadweight) within their partner community. This was due, in part, as a result of some of the partner recruiting strategies used in the past. “Net new logos”!

What has begun to evolve is the use of data to help identify what it is that separates those partners who are more successful from the rest of the pack. What becomes apparent when evaluating the data is that there are common characteristics among those partners who are more successful. These commonalities are the baseline of what is an ideal partner profile (IPP). An IPP is not unlike the concept of an ideal customer profile (ICP), which marketers have been using for years, and with the evolution of marketing practices that have become more targetted, the use of ICPs has become more prevalent. As with an ICP, an IPP is an outline that represents a set of firmographic characteristics of a partner who is more likely to be the best fit and has a higher degree of possible success for a particular channel program.

The types of characteristics that make up an IPP can vary greatly. It may depend on the complexity of the technology category, the industry or sector, or the transactional complexity of a deal. If there is a database of partners available from an existing channel program, that data can be leveraged as a starting point. There will inevitably be some things that will stand out when the data is evaluated. These may be things such as the size of their sales teams, their market maturity or annual revenue, the makeup of their offerings portfolio, who their ICP is and what sectors they specialize in, or what skill sets they have on staff. While it’s best to find the common denominators that narrow down the ICP, there may be multiple ICPs that evolve. Such as separate profiles for each unique business model, such as VAR, ISV, or SI.

When completed, the IPP becomes the key asset behind the success of a channel development plan. IPPs are used to aid in creating a much more targeted partner recruiting strategy, an optimal onboarding program, targeted partner program messaging and marketing strategy, effective co-marketing plans, and the development of more impactful incentive programs. When multiple IPPs are identified, adjustments can be made in the program development to accommodate for the subtle differences.

This concept of identifying and implementing IPPs as a channel program development strategy, but the alternative “one size fits all” approach to constructing a channel program has higher risks.

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