If you are an early-stage startup founder, you can definitely relate to this.
You have a working product, a committed founding team, and devoted early adopters. You’re ready to take your startup to the next level and bring more clients in.
But there’s one problem that keeps rearing its ugly head:
You and your team are limited on time and resources.
So how can you continue to scale your startup with those hurdles?
This is where a channel partner program can come in. Channel partners serve as an extended sales force, leveraging their relationships to provide sales opportunities.
It’s mutually beneficial for both parties: Channel partners get your product to reach more buyers, and they get rewarded for their successful referrals.
A channel partnership is a great channel for boosting your startup revenue and increasing your market share without having to invest in more tools and new hires. In fact, many tech companies – big and small – are utilizing channel partnerships to grow their revenue.
Not convinced? Here are five companies that have seen accelerated revenue growth with channel partnerships:
Remember when you and your neighbor used Skype for online meetings?
And suddenly everyone started using Zoom in 2020.
In just two years, Zoom went from earning US$330M to US$4B, the fastest company to hit US$4B!
And along with this growth, Zoom’s partner team grew a whopping 760 percent in revenue, doubling Zoom’s overall revenue increase.
“That alone can tell you the demand. Customers are going to their partners – their trusted advisors and consultants – to ask then what to do during this time period,”
Laura Padilla; Head of Global Channel, Platform Sales, and BD at Zoom
Now, 30 percent of Zoom’s current revenue is attributed to their channel partner program.
And their partners brought valuable impact on the business. For example, 70%+ of Zoom’s US Federal Government business was brought by channel partners.
With channel partners, Zoom powered up their distribution to reach clients who would never find their platform. They also helped to access customers who are costly to reach through traditional sales and marketing methods, like the US Federal Government.
Did you know that 95 percent of Microsoft’s revenue flows through its channel partners?
With more than 400,000 partners in its partner ecosystem, the Redmond-based tech giant has constructed one of the largest and most sophisticated channel ecosystems in the industry.
How did they build such a massive channel partner program? They partner up and empower a broad range of channel partners from cloud solution providers to IP co-sellers who serve as consultants to potential clients.
With this partner-led approach, Microsoft not only scales its scope to new clients faster, they also add value to complex enterprise deals through professional services that partners provide to facilitate adoption.
This strategy has proven very profitable for Microsoft. By 2024, the Microsoft partner network is predicted to bring US$1.2 trillion in revenue, which is around 10x the revenue that Microsoft generates itself.
One lesson to take from Microsoft's partner program: Start with the needs of your clients and work with partners to deliver the best outcomes.
From Microsoft and Zoom’s case, we’ve seen how channel partnerships can help brands reach out to more potential clients and bring in more revenue.
Another advantage of channel partnerships is that leads brought by channel partners are more likely to close, and they close faster too!
This benefit is best seen in Freshworks, an Indian cloud-based customer engagement software company valued at US$3.5B.
Freshworks implements a partner program which hosts tech companies, resellers, system integrators, and MSPs that recognize the market need for a simple and cost-effective cloud solution that is easy to integrate.
This robust ecosystem has enabled Freshworks to tap into new customer bases, acquiring qualified leads from an already trusted source. With this channel-led strategy, they received over 120 pre-qualified sales opportunities from their partners in 2020.
And the Freshworks sales team took a step further: Together with their partners, they organised meetings to identify which potential clients their reps and partners had a strong connection with – especially the customers that were willing to try new solutions.
With this approach, Freshworks generated 15-20 sales qualified opportunities with a high likelihood of closing. That was how they were able to close 50 percent faster than other sales deals.
Tap into your connections whom you and your partners have strong relationships with. They trust you and are willing to do business with you should the opportunity arise.
Swedish mobile distribution app platform AppLand is another success story of how small partnership initiatives can bring a big impact. The company started with 10 small B2B clients in 2015. Three years later, they had acquired over 100 global telecom operators as their clients.
How did they do it?
Daniel Nilsson, then Chief Commercial Officer at AppLand, recalled how he transformed his channel partner program from nothing to a revenue-generating machine.
Firstly, Nilsson invested a lot of time in researching and understanding every aspect of his target clients – telecom companies and end users (gamers and parents). He spoke with a lot of potential customers and reading all kinds of reports about them. Then, he curated detailed user profiles with their pain points, purchasing journey, and user persona.
Equipped with this knowledge, Nilsson drew up a strategy for how he should position AppLand to attract his target clients. He redesigned his website and created a compelling 80-slide sales presentation to target his user profiles.
Lastly, Nilsson designed the details of the channel partner program. He created an online platform for channel partners to access his presentation, training videos, and other informational resources that would allow his partners to deliver a convincing pitch to the telecom operators.
With this partner-led strategy, AppLand successfully built a global partner ecosystem with 30+ partners in over 40 countries including Indonesia, Poland, Mexico, and Nigeria in over three years.
By partnering with local channel partners and providing them resources to make a polished sell, you can expand to new markets without hiring new employees and renting a new office space.
Founders Lair is the largest decentralized startup ecosystem in the world. They provide an open-innovation platform for brands, accelerators, and government agencies to source startups from Asia.
In 2022, Founders Lair expanded its scope of operations in Hong Kong. They were looking to remotely establish new business opportunities with corporates in Hong Kong.
Then, we at Expando stepped in.
One of our partners took the initiative to identify their connections who might be interested in Founders Lair’s startup sourcing platform. Then, they spoke with those connections to note down pain points and opportunities. Finally, they introduced Founders Lair to their connections at leading real estate, luxury, and government organization who had indicated a clear interest. This way, they were focusing on closing and receiving qualified opportunities.
The result? Founders Lair received six qualified opportunities. Now they are discussing with the Hong Kong authorities to expand their operations without moving their team to Hong Kong.
When working with channel partners, deals are a lot more likely to close due to the collaborative nature of the relationship. By partnering with channel partners, you can tap into their existing customer relationships and industry knowledge, increasing the chances of closing deals. Additionally, the trust and support fostered in these partnerships contribute to a higher likelihood of success in closing deals.
Start your channel-led sales strategy and expand your business in Asia with Expando
Expando simplifies and streamlines channel partnerships. Our platform allows you to not only find partners and receive qualified introductions but also collaborate with partners to increase your chances of closing with top decision-makers in Asia.
Want to see a similar success to Microsoft, Zoom, FreshWorks, AppLand, and Founders Lair? Take Expando for a spin – it’s free to try.