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Searching for partners: How to find sales partners that suit you!

Find a sales partner

Finding the right sales partners is half the battle in B2B. After all, manufacturers who sell their products via sales partners do so for good reason:

"A network of sales partners enables fast and direct access to new markets and customers."

This is a competitive advantage, especially today.

After all, product life cycles are getting shorter and shorter. What's more, no one knows the needs of end customers in more detail than sales partners - whether they are resellers, system integrators, specialist dealers or installers.

Are your products particularly consulting-intensive or technically complex?

Then seeking and finding good sales partners is worth its weight in gold. Through them, you can potentially multiply your resources to infinity and are always very close to the customer - literally. This is the reason why indirect sales - despite all the prophecies of doom - is enjoying the best of health.

However, distribution via sales partners also harbours some risks:

You run the risk of taking on board "pipe-dreamers" who will cost you dearly but have little enthusiasm for your product.

You have less control over the processing of your customer enquiries

You regularly have to struggle with motivation problems and carry sales partners to the hunt

It is not uncommon for 20 per cent of partners to account for 80 per cent of sales (Pareto principle).

The ratio should be much more balanced. After all, you are investing real money and time in building your partner network!

"The most important factor for good collaboration and good sales via sales partners is therefore the right partner recruitment."

Before you look for the right sales partner, however, you need to ask yourself a few questions. The more questions you ask yourself in advance, the greater the likelihood that you will find new sales partners who will bring success to your business.

Ask yourself:

  1. What type of partner are we looking for? (Reseller, value-added reseller, system integrator, specialised trade partner, sales representative, etc.)?

2. What size company do we need? (number of employees)

3. What specialist skills or qualifications must they have?

4. How large must the customer catchment area be?

5. How big should the benefit be for the sales partner (does your product fit into their business strategy)?

6. Do you know the decision-makers at the sales partner and can you define a clear benefit and persona definition for them?

Finding new sales partners: The selection process

A three-stage selection process has proven its worth when choosing a sales partner:


Essentially, the aim is to determine how much potential there is in the market.


What is the turnover or performance of the potential sales partner?


what prerequisites the potential sales partner has for the future

Baselining - analysing the market

What market potential do the various business segments promise? Once you have determined this value, you have a basis for all further discussions with the potential sales partner.

Baselining serves in particular as a plausibility check:

Does the sales partner correctly assess the market?

Are his expectations and forecasts realistic?

The independent market assessment in advance also serves as the basis for target agreements. Depending on the region and market, different data sources are used, for example official statistics or industry reports. In addition to quantitative data, qualitative information is usually also obtained, which is required in subsequent steps, for example when assessing marketing activities.

Performance - scrutinising the sales partner

In this step, the current performance of the potential sales partner is determined (actual status).

Accordingly, the focus is on the facts and figures of his business. These can be market shares, existing and new customers and installed base. Equally important: growth, customer satisfaction or awareness data. You should determine all data for individual market or product segments if necessary.

They are the basis for target agreements, but should not be assessed in absolute terms, but relative to benchmarks, for example:

  1. Competitor data

  2. best practices

  3. market statistics

  4. Customer information.

The latter should primarily provide information on whether and to what extent the potential sales partner has already acquired key accounts and reference customers and what acquisition plans exist in this area for the future.

Enabler - venture a sales forecast

This analysis step is possibly the most difficult of all:

How much turnover does the potential sales partner promise?

Information on this is provided, for example, by the current status

and the development in the areas:

Customer relationships

 Product knowledge

 Application knowledge

 Key company figures

 Services provided

 Structural and process organisation of the company

 Marketing plan

Good and intensive customer contacts are the be-all and end-all.

Does the sales partner know the purchasing decision-makers and purchasing influencers?

Are they familiar with the purchasing processes in detail?

How intensively is he networked in the market?

Do they have access to key opinion leaders?

You should clarify such points. Find out how many customer events the potential sales partner has organised or how many customer projects they have completed.

Equally important are all the knowledge about products and applications, the service capability and the corresponding level of training of the employees.

If there are deficits here, you already know that you will have higher investment costs - in the form of training, for example.

The potential partner's marketing plans are also a priority. In conjunction with the results of the baselining and the analysis of customer relationships, this can provide important indications of weak points, for example with regard to previously overlooked business opportunities.

If you adhere to these criteria, you will find new sales partners who match your product and your business strategy.


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