Reseller and agent programs are undergoing heavy scrutiny from CEOs. Searching for revenue growth, CEOs want to know if the channel can provide it, yet they are also noticing that traditionally strong resellers are struggling. This means Channel Chiefs are looking for ways to prove the value of this important channel to market.

The answer is to layer on a referral program.

There are some big advantages to running reseller and referral programs in tandem that lead to a more productive channel and corresponding revenue growth. Here’s my list of the top 5 benefits of running a referral program alongside a reseller model.

Top 5 use cases and benefits of running reseller & referral programs together

  1. Make the referral program a qualifying step for resellers – This allows you to validate that a potential reseller actually has access to your target buyers and influence on their purchasing decisions. Once a referral partner meets your requirement for successful referrals, you can then go through the certification process knowing it won’t be a waste. Additionally, by participating in the referral program, the partner has already gotten basic training on your target buyer and value proposition.

Key Benefits:

  • Saves time/resources in certifying only productive resellers.
  • Saves time/resources in training resellers on the target buyer and value propositions.
  1. Use the referral program to attract potential resellersReferral programs are an easy way to begin to form a relationship with potential resellers that is less risky for both sides. The partner can quickly find out how easy it is for them to work with you and find in-market buyers without spending their time on certification that might not pan out.

Key Benefits:

  • Recruit more partners (and potential resellers).
  • Provide partners a great impression of how easy it is to work with you.
  1. Use the referral program to identify potential resellers – Many referral partners start as programs for individuals to sign up for. This is particularly true if you have a territory model for your direct sales team and they are recruiting influencers in their territory to become referral partners. Understanding the referral performance of these partners can lead to identifying potential companies to form managed relationships with – either as a referral or resale partner. This saves time and money in going after the right partners since they have a proven fit for your business model.

Key Benefits:

  • Provides data to demonstrate which companies would be profitable resellers.
  • Saves time and money searching for new resellers.
  1. A referral program makes it easy for resellers to refer – There will always be times when a reseller identifies a potential buyer but isn’t in a position to make the sale due to conflict of interest or lack of the right skill set or solution. Having a solid referral program that is easy for resellers to use allows them to clearly make a referral and get rewarded for it instead of fumbling with deal registration exceptions.

Key Benefits:

  • Reduces exception handling for tracking non-resell contributions.
  • Gives resellers confidence they will be fairly rewarded for non-resell activity.
  1. Transition underperforming resellers to referral partners – Products and buyers change and sometimes resellers can’t make the transition. Running a referral program alongside reseller provides an outlet to move underperforming resellers to referral partners. This allows you to still get great leads from them, but save money on recertification that doesn’t produce closed deals.

Key Benefits:

  • Provides a low-cost way to still get revenue from struggling resellers.
  • Saves time and money to recertify underperforming resellers.

If you are running a reseller program without a referral program, you’re missing out on significant revenue and time savings for your team. Beyond the value of your reseller model, referral programs can also be a way for you to get revenue from non-resell partners in your ecosystem. Technology partners, integration partners, services providers, consultants, implementation partners, etc. all interact with your target buyers and could all be making referrals to your offering if enabled to do so. There are so many benefits to adding a referral partner program to your channel – make it a priority this year.

And to see how referral partner programs are driving revenue for companies, download the benchmark report, The State of Business Partner Referral Programs.

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