For broader based technologies in bigger markets, you will likely need 150-to-200 qualified prospects to begin your recruitment process. The initial outreach to targeted resellers is usually via an email and follow-up phone calls.
When you get someone on the phone, the objectives is to establish the value proposition in less than a minute so the person can get off the phone quickly if it doesn’t fit. If they are interested, spend a few more minutes to ask questions about their business, their customer base and their capacity to take on a new product.
An interested prospect will want to know more about the product, pricing, etc. You might have some additional collateral that you can e-mail, or you might schedule an on-line demo.
It is at this point you might want to get a non-disclosure agreement signed.
Early on in the process, we recommend sending an interested prospect a partner application, even if you have gathered quite a bit of their information. In our experience, about half of the prospects who say they want to sign a contract and get started won’t bother to fill it out. So, it’s a good filtering process. Establish a deadline for a response. If you have to follow up more than twice, then drop them and move on.
If you started with 150 to 200 prospects, the process up to this point will likely bring you down to 10-to-15.
The product evaluation is an important step.
At this stage, the partner prospect should want to know as much about the product as possible, and you will want them to play with the product. This could start with a canned demo, or a Web-based demo, but ideally they will log in and spend time with the live version.
If it is a complex installation, then it is best to walk them through the evaluation so they don’t get lost and give up because they think the solution is too complex.
Often, prospective resellers will want to show your solution to some of their existing clients. If they can’t get existing clients interested, then it is probably not a good fit.
Both you and the prospect should now have the information you need to make a go / no-go decision.
At this stage, you may want to begin validating a prospect’s ability to be a strong reseller for you. One of the best ways to do this is checking their vendor references.
If your product has a significant services component, then you should try to talk to clients, although this may be the last step before signing a formal contract. In other words, the prospective partner will want to know that all of the business terms have been agreed and checking client references is a last step.