The 3 Main Affiliate Partner Types You Should Work With.

While launching a partner program isn’t that difficult on its own (using the right tools and investment), who are the right partners?

Affiliate PartnersReferral PartnersReseller Partners
Number of partnersHighMediumLow
Average Deal SizeLowMediumHigh
Resources RequiredSomeA little moreA lot more

Affiliate Partner

Promote your product through content created for larger-scale audiences. They likely don’t have a direct relationship with their audience.

Affiliate partners will drive traffic to your product website through tracking links and earn a cut when that traffic converts to a paid user. (self-service)

Pros

  • Require the least amount of investment.
  • Self Service & Onboarding.
  • Building global brand awareness and exposure with key audiences.
  • The opportunity to launch a program without a perfect Ideal Partner Profile, enablement and support.
  • Collect insights that will be useful for refining personas for referral & reseller/channel partners.
  • Increase the amount of content being created by industry experts about your product, and reach buyers when they’re actually looking for a solution.

Cons

  • Possible Fraud
  • Possible spammy content
  • Smaller Value (SaaS) signups.

Referral Partners

Referral Partners Often have a direct one-to-one relationship. The leads they send are typically highly qualified, and there are two types or some using both methods.

  • Link-based referral partner: Similar to an affiliate program, using tracking links. (more hands-off).
  • Lead form-based partner: Partners send qualified leads to your product to close and support the customer. It may sometimes involve co-selling. (more hands-on)

Pros

  • Drive more specific, qualified leads.
  • Enablement and support will be needed when setting up the more complex referral and reseller programs.
  • SaaS Business/Self-hosted accounts.
  • Framing the development of the channel strategy as concrete and iterative steps clearly mapping that progress.
  • Increase the amount of content being created by industry experts about your product, and reach buyers when they’re actually looking for a solution.
  • Possible integration/development of the API

Cons

  • Require more enablement and resources.
  • You to close and support the customer (may sometimes involve co-selling)
  • Monetary compensation might not be enough to incentivise them (free account)
  • Possibly require new features built into the product itself.

Reseller / Channel Partners

Partners sell on behalf of your company, register the deal, create the account, and set the end client up on your behalf. Enterprise and more complex sales pipeline and deployments. (more hands-on)

Pros

  • Bigger deals (Enterprise)
  • Deals / Support Typically handled by resellers
  • Acquisition
  • Renewal is owned by them.
  • International support (Can refer inbound leads for them to close)
  • Security / Trust position
  • Run and manage self-hosted deployments
  • Integration/development of the API

Cons

  • Require more enablement and support — which need more time and resources to develop well.
  • Cost of enrolling
  • Timelines for launching a reseller channel sitting closer to 12 to 18 months.
  • Require new features built into your product.
  • Deliver a modified version of the solution to the client.
  • Multi-Commission structures.
  • More demanding and involved partners.
  • Grow a partnerships team to provide these resellers with the support and resources they need to succeed.