Learning to Love the Channel


Systems Integrators (SIs)

  • Your product could be part of a larger initiative, so you avoid the tension of “scope creep” where customers ask their vendors to help them implement other technologies.
  • An in-house professional services team scales according to the rate at which you’re able to hire people. These roles tend to be technical and challenging to hire.
  • Enter the referral flywheel. As you recruit SIs to implement your product, they’ll start introducing your products to their clients.

Technology Partners

  • Your product expands your partner’s addressable market or alleviates one of their top 3–5 customer objections they experience when selling.
  • Your partner’s sales leadership has bought in and committed to investing sales resources (training, compensation, co-marketing, etc).
  • Your partner’s sales reps can easily describe your product and communicate how it complements theirs.
  • Your product fits into an existing sales motion. This isn’t as obvious as it seems. For example, if your partner sells application software and you provide software infrastructure on which that application would operate, it’s unlikely that the sales reps would initiate a conversation about the infrastructure layer.
  • There is a natural product use. For example, Segment, a previous company I worked at, connects data from where it’s generated to hundreds of 3rd party tools where it is utilized. The partnerships formed with these 3rd party tools are intrinsic to the value proposition and Segment’s strategy given the nature of the product.
  • Your partnership isn’t one of many. Mindshare among sales reps is hard to command, so if you must compete for mindshare to succeed, that energy might be better focused elsewhere.

Marketplaces (Technology Partners Part 2)

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

Channel Market Fit

Wrapping up

  • Resellersmy customer needs an accessible channel they trust where they’re used to purchasing products like mine.
  • SIsmy customer needs help implementing, managing, or integrating my product as part of a broader initiative.
  • Technology partnersmy product is incomplete relative to the job a customer might assign my product to do.
  • Marketplacesa customer might not discover or consider purchasing a product like mine unless it exists in this channel.
  • OEMmy customer could derive additional value if they experience my product in a completely different form.



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