3 Keys to Building an ISV Partner Channel in 2019


One of the biggest decisions you can make as an ISV is whether to sell directly to customers or develop a channel partner program. An ISV’s channel partner program may consist of MSPs (Managed Service Providers), MSSPs (Managed Security Service Providers), VARs (Value-Added Resellers), SIs (Systems Integrators), or solutions providers. While selling directly can provide more control, creating a channel partner program can enable you to exponentially grow your business. So, at the end of the day, it depends where you see your business in the next 3-5 years and how you plan to get there.

Close up image of business person holding shining key

If you are looking to build a channel, here are three keys to help you in 2019:

  1. Go all in on the channel strategy
  2. Find the right channel partners
  3. Create a partnership, not just an upsell opportunity

Go all in on the channel strategy
This one seems to be the most obvious, but it can be the hardest. Going all in on the channel strategy means you’ll need to get out of your comfort zone and do something different. The other challenging aspect is building your channel. It doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. It will take effort on your end to establish those relationships and get buy-in from your channel partners. There will probably be many times in the beginning when you’ll want to give up on the strategy, but make sure you give it a fair shot if you decide to build a partner channel. And remember, every ISV has to start somewhere. Make sure you don’t sell yourself short and try to make the channel strategy work. That said, keep in mind that channel partners want to work with ISVs. Just make sure you don’t rush your strategy.

Tip: Consider hiring a dedicated resource that can handle the channel companies specifically. The better that relationship is, the more success you’ll see from it in the future.

Find the right channel partners
Finding the right channel partner is key to your ultimate success. While all MSPs could be a good partner fit, it doesn’t mean they should be on your short list. Keep in mind that you’ll start to be associated with this company. If customer service if a key part of your culture, make sure that is a key part of their culture too. Finding the wrong channel partner can cost you a lot of time and money, not to mention how your brand is viewed.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to interview potential channel partners. This gives you a chance to evaluate each other and make sure it is a good fit for both parties. Why waste time and money when you don’t have to?

Create a partnership, not just an upsell opportunity
Last, but not least, create a partnership, not just an upsell opportunity. This means that you should be working on long term relationships with your channel partners and not just being another line item they can sell. One of the best ways to do this is to provide them tools and resources to not only help them understand the product, but to help them overcome objections. This can go a long way with sales people when the product is easier to sell because they have everything they need.

Tip: Consider holding in-person sales training classes for your channel partners. This not only helps them understand and learn the product, but it also gives them the time and attention to make them feel valued and a part of the team. It also gives you the opportunity to better articulate the value of your offering.

To wrap up, make sure you take some time to research possible channel partners you could use before jumping in with both feet. You can even go as far as reaching out and asking them a few questions to see if they’d be interested in partnering with an ISV like yourself. The answer to those types of questions may provide you the answer you are looking for in regards to whether or not you should try to build a channel partner program.

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