How to empower Channel Partners with the GTM Partner Program

Published on
April 4, 2024

Today, reaching customers effectively requires something more than just sales efforts. With the increasing complexity of the channel landscape, more than traditional sales is needed to thrive in achieving every customer segment. This is where strategic partnerships emerge, allowing channel partners to unlock exponential growth. One such vital concept is the Go-to-Market (GTM) partnerships, which reshape the channel landscape by enabling businesses to collaborate and thrive in an increasingly competitive market. At the heart of this strategy lies the GTM partners, who amplify your brand visibility in the market.

Such strategic partnerships allow businesses to leverage their connections to improve their market reach and drive revenue far more quickly than simply following the traditional sales process.

But what exactly are GTM partnerships, and how do they fit into the broader channel landscape? This blog delves into how GTM partnerships optimize channel partner strategies, support business objectives, and set your organization apart with value-added services and increased brand visibility.

Navigating the Channel Landscape

Before we dive into the Go-to-Market partner program, let's first understand the landscape of channel marketing.

Channel Marketing involves leveraging external partners to promote and sell products or services. These external partners help organizations reach diverse customer segments that otherwise find it challenging to access themselves through an in-house sales team.

Organizations can choose from a diverse range of channels to target their products or services, like:

  1. Direct Channels: This allows organizations to sell directly to end customers through a website, sales team, or company-owned stores.
  2. Indirect Channels: Intermediaries like resellers, distributors, and value-added partners sell directly to end customers.
  3. Online Channels: When organizations sell through E-commerce platforms, affiliate networks, or marketplaces.
  4. Partner Channels: When organizations collaborate with GTM partners to expand their market reach beyond traditional boundaries.

Indirect and partner channels bridge the gap between businesses and their diverse customer segments.

What are Go-to-Market (GTM) Partners?

Go-to-market partners refer to strategic collaborators (third-party organizations, individuals, or entities) collaborating with a company to bring products or services to market. These GTM partnerships extend beyond direct distribution channels, encompassing shared goals, vision, expertise, and resources.

When an organization has an ideal product or service that could be complimentary to GTM partners and offers resources such as the ideal target audience, it can utilize them jointly to enhance the value proposition. The closer the product's features are to the partner's expectations, the better the partnership will flourish.

GTM partnerships, if planned well, can help you break into existing and new markets despite the competitors. Moreover, it involves no costs of acquisition, meaning the chances of success are exponential without you having to put in the costs, time, and efforts to build a brand into a new market or reach new customers.

Strategic Go-to-market partnerships close gaps by tapping into the complementary value of products. One such popular example is Lexus and Coach Partnership. Lexus, the ultimate luxury car brand, partnered with Coach, a luxury fashion brand, to offer unique luxury leather seating.

Introducing Partner Programs

Partner Programs, also known as partnership programs or channel programs, refer to the strategic business initiative that establishes and nurtures collaborative relationships with third-party entities called partners.

Partnership programs offer a lot of benefits like:

  1. Boosting Sales
  2. Reaching New Markets
  3. Getting new revenue sources
  4. Raising brand awareness
  5. Growing customer base

Business vendors use partner programs to encourage channel partners to recommend or sell their products or services. The motive of such programs is that your partners help you gain a presence in new verticles to increase leads and revenue. Some big giants like Salesforce and Hubspot heavily rely on partner programs to boost their income.

For example, Sleeknote's partner program offered 25% recurring commissions on successful referrals. The program included quarterly payouts to partners with free marketing resources to help them attract suitable leads.

Today, a partner-led approach is increasingly becoming popular. According to McKinsey, by 2030, partner ecosystems will play a massive role in the global economy, driving around $80 trillion in annual revenue.

What is the purpose of Partnership Programs?

Partnership programs are structured frameworks facilitating strategic collaborations between businesses and partners. Such programs are built with specific goals like market expansion, product innovation, cost efficiency, and customer satisfaction. By formalizing this agreement, businesses can leverage their partners' complementary strengths and resources to achieve mutual growth.

Furthermore, channel partner programs provide a roadmap for joint initiatives, outlining both parties' roles, responsibilities, expectations, and incentives. They foster a collaborative environment, encouraging knowledge sharing and best practices through effective communication and coordination. Additionally, partner programs help businesses build and maintain strong relationships with their partners, leading to increased trust, loyalty, and long-term sustainability.

However, a successful partner program requires consistent communication, clear goals, and regular check-ins to assess partner needs. Because partnerships are formal agreements, their setup process demands upfront planning, effective communication, resource commitment, and, at the same time, the ability to drive results. Some essential elements of a successful partner program include building win-win relationships with the right partners, creating correct formal agreements, and ongoing commitments.

Ultimately, partnership programs are all about maximizing your reach and business growth.

4 Components of Effective Partnership Program

Setting up a solid partner program is no one-size-fits-all approach. Businesses have to customize their approach based on the goals and needs of their partners. However, having the following components can help you create a strong foundation for your program.

  1. Having Clear Goals and Objectives: The partner program should have clearly defined goals and objectives aligned with your business strategy. These objectives may include market expansion, revenue growth, customer acquisition, product innovation, or competitive differentiation.
  2. Selecting the Right Partners: Ensure your chosen partners align with your vision, goals, values, and capabilities. Ask yourself questions as you consider potential partners:
    • Do our values and goals match?
    • What is their customer base?
    • Do they have a positive reputation? A
    • Are they financially stable?
    • What resources do they have already?
    • Do they have strong communication and project management skills?
    • How many companies have they successfully partnered with previously?
    • Are they willing to spare time and effort in the partnership?

It is essential to evaluate partners based on their industrial experience, market presence, and potential for collaboration. Feel free to turn down partnerships that seem like the wrong fit. Not all partners are equal. Identify partners that fit your organization well and have the expertise to help you achieve your goals.

3. Have a robust onboarding process: Establish a smooth onboarding process after identifying the right partners. Have a transparent process to familiarize partners with your organization's policies, products, services, and processes. The onboarding process should also include all the resources, tools, and support to ensure they get to speed.

4. Provide Ongoing Support: Successful partnerships are long-term investments. Businesses need to offer continuous support to ensure collaboration thrives. A dedicated support team ensures partners get the necessary training and resources to overcome challenges.

4 Examples of Successful Partner Programs

  1. Microsoft Partner Network (MPN): Microsoft's partner program empowers technology partners, resellers, and consultants to build, sell, and deploy solutions using Microsoft technologies. It offers various membership levels with benefits like technical support, training, marketing resources, and co-selling opportunities. Partners in the MPN gain access to a wide range of tools and resources to enhance their capabilities and grow their businesses.
  2. Slack Partner Program: Slack, a popular collaboration and messaging platform, has a thriving partner program. It includes technology partners, solution providers, and consultants. Here, partners build integrations, offer consulting services, and drive the adoption of Slack within organizations. The program fosters innovation and expands Slack's reach.
  3. Salesforce Partner Program: The Salesforce program is tailored for consulting firms, app developers, system integrators, and technology partners offering solutions built on the Salesforce platform. The program provides partners access to salesforce products, training, certification programs, marketing support, and collaboration opportunities.
  4. Xerox Global Partner Program: Xerox, a leader in printing and document management solutions, has a robust partner program. It provides its partners with tools, training, and resources, enabling them to offer Xerox products and services to their clients. The program emphasizes collaboration, co-marketing, and joint business development, creating a win-win situation.

Building a Successful GTM Partner Strategy

You have built the foundation for a strong partner program. All your SOPs and buy-ins are in place. What is next in the phase?

The immediate next step is to develop a go-to-market (GTM) strategy to leverage the investments in launching a channel sales program.

A GTM strategy is the best way to fully experience the advantages of successful partnerships with expanded reach, increased revenue, and credibility.

Whether you are working with partners for the first time or looking to enhance your channel marketing efforts to align them with your company goals better, there are many steps for the next phase of GTM strategy.

Let's dive into what GTM strategy is and how to make one. We will take you from product conception to launch with the best practices to develop a foolproof market strategy that fits your sales methodology.

What is a Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy?

A Go-to-Market strategy is a stepwise plan to engage with customers, gain competitive advantages, and enter a new market as you launch new products or services. The purpose of the GTM strategy is to provide a blueprint for delivering the product/service to the end customer. It will help a business clarify the motive behind launching a new product, understand the ideal audience, and create a plan to engage with customers and convince them to purchase it.

A successful GTM strategy provides a blueprint for the following:

  • Product conceptualization
  • Targeting the proper marketing channels and audience
  • Crafting the right messaging
  • Meeting budget goals by setting price tiers
  • Keeping a feasible timeline for the entire process
  • Keeping different departments in sync

Why does your business need a GTM strategy?

When planned and executed correctly, the GTM strategy will ensure all the stakeholders are aligned and establish a timeline for each stakeholder to meet defined milestones and outcomes. Creating and documenting the plan helps businesses miss any steps resulting in costly errors. With the right GTM plan, companies can increase their chances of success and establish a solid foundation for product launches.

Some of the benefits of having a go-to go-to-market strategy:

  • Maximizing revenue potential by targeting the ideal new and existing target audience.
  • Meeting business objectives with aligned pre-determined goals.
  • Boosting brand awareness with an effective promotional strategy.
  • Reducing time to market with time-bound tasks and goals.
  • Meeting budget goals by clearly defining money allocations.

While GTM strategies are more closely associated with product launches, they can also describe an organization's steps to guide customer interactions for already established products.

To successfully create a GTM strategy, businesses must understand the work environment and the focus market. Both the new and existing workflows should be defined clearly.

Core Components of the Strategy

There are five core components of the successful strategy:

  1. Market: Which markets should be targeted to sell the product or service?
  2. Customers: Who is the target audience for our offerings in the given market?
  3. Distribution model: How will the product or service be delivered to the customer?
  4. Product positioning and messaging: What is unique about the product, and how is it different from the other products in the market?
  5. Price: How much should the product cost for each customer group

How do we align GTM strategy with realistic business objectives and goals?

Aligning GTM strategy with realistic business goals and objectives is crucial for the success of your business. Let's break down the steps to ensure alignment:

  1. Understand your Product and Problem: Identify the problem your product or service solves. What pain points does it address? How does it add value to customers? This understanding will guide your GTM approach to align with overall business goals.
  2. Understand your Target Audience: Define your ideal customers. What are their pain points? Define their buying behavior. How will your product or service solve your audience's challenges? Tailor your messaging and strategy to resonate with their needs and preferences.
  3. Develop a compelling value proposition: Have your value proposition clearly articulated. How are you different from your competitors? How will your offering benefit the customer? Having a solid value proposition ensures alignment with business goals.
  4. Market Research and Competition Analysis: Understand market demand, trends, and competitive landscape. Identify gaps and opportunities to make informed GTM decisions.
  5. Map the buyer's journey: Understand what your customers need to move from awareness to buying. Map out your touchpoints and customize your GTM activities accordingly.
  6. Set KPIs and monitor performance: Define KPIs that will measure the success of your GTM plan. Metrics like sales revenue, customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime value, and market penetration can be tracked regularly to monitor their performance.

Identifying the right GTM partners

Successful channel partner programs begin with having the right partners, meaning identifying ideal partners.

You can begin this process by listing out the must-haves and nice-to-haves. An organization must follow these characteristics to fit the baseline criteria to be considered partners and those that could add any extra benefit.

One of the ways to start identifying the ideal partnership is by considering what works for your organization. Even though you are launching a formalized partner program, you can still consider unofficial partners with whom you must have collaborated previously.

For instance, you might have experienced great returns from partners who actively co-market with you compared to those who relied on you for leads rather than generating on their own. They may not be considered reasonable.  

The ideal partner profile consists of some basic requirements like:

One of the crucial aspects of identifying the right partners is considering the geographies and verticles in which they work. Your partners should help you fill any market gaps you face.

Working with partners in countries where you don't have your presence will hugely benefit your go-to-market. However, their deep understanding of the language and culture is critical for breaking down communication barriers with prospects.

GTM partnership's ideal profile

Similarly, partnering with an organization with well-versed industries that are newer to you is hugely beneficial. This will help you leverage your partner's connections and relationships and gain insights into the sectors.

Once your must-haves and nice-to-haves list are created, the next step is to consider red flags that could make a partner unsuitable for your channel sales program. Often, this showcases the opposite traits of your ideal partner profile. They will sell to the wrong markets, and misalignment with your business goals or financials will need to be in order.

Sometimes, the best partners on paper could be better in practice. A partner organization might have strong ties to the market you are trying to break into, but if they are not aligned with your company's goals and values, the relationship will not work.

Such organizations might have good reputations, but if they don't have client relationships or cannot secure leads, that may not work with what you are looking for in a partnership.

8 Best Practices for managing GTM Partnerships

Building an effective GTM strategy involves a couple of best practices to ensure your product/service reaches the right audience and drives revenue. Let's dive deep into it:

  1. Identify buyer personas: The first step to having a successful GTM strategy is to identify a buyer persona. This process will include identifying the target markets and customer base and understanding how to reach your target audience.
  2. Create a value matrix: Next, create a value matrix that maps your product or service across business needs. This value matrix will communicate the purpose of your product/service to all stakeholders, including the customers.
GTM partners value matrix

Source: Hubspot

  1. Define the market strategy: Defining market strategy enables organizations to determine their product/service's place in the market and create a plan to raise its awareness. This phase includes testing different advertising methods for targeting potential customers.
  2. Understand the buyer's journey: Once your market strategy is defined, organizations should understand their buyer's journeys. This will help them understand how each buyer goes through the funnel that leads them to purchase the product/service. Organizations should identify potential journeys through the buying process from organizations and customer preferences.
  3. Craft the sales strategy: Create a plan to introduce the product or service to the market. Ensure elements like training support, client acquisition, required tools, and resources are included in the sales strategy.
  4. Provide ongoing support: Have the support teams in place to determine how customer assistance will be provided for their queries and concerns. This step includes factors like:
  • Tools required for managing customer relationships (CRM),
  • Onboarding and support processes to assist customers in using the product or service,
  • Retention strategies to ensure customers remain loyal to the company,

7. Determine Success metrics: Identify the primary purpose of the product or service and define how success will be measured. Set quantifiable metrics to monitor performance and measure success.

8. Determine ongoing budget and resource requirements: Once all the steps have been completed, organizations should identify ongoing budget and resource requirements that will continue even after the product or service has been launched. This will include time and money spent on maintenance of the offering and several other factors that will impact the day-to-day lives of your partners.

Measuring Performance: Diving Deep into Partnership KPIs

Sales Performance:

One of the crucial reasons you have entered the partnership is for sales and ultimately winning new businesses.

Co-selling is when two businesses with similar customer bases form a strategic alliance to sell each other's products or services. And when it comes to winning new business, partners can help in two different ways:

  • Partner Sourced Revenue: When there is no existing sales opportunity, and a partner enables you to source one.
  • Partner-influenced revenue: When there is an existing sales opportunity, but a partner helps influence the deal to close.
Measuring Partner-Sourced Revenue

Partner-Source revenue can be measured by:

  • Total number of new leads passed over by partner
  • Total number of opportunities moved to the pipeline from that partner
  • Total number of deal wins
Measuring Partner-Influenced Revenue

Partner-Influenced revenue can be measured by:

  • Total number of opportunities given where the partner was involved
  • The resulting number of deal wins secured through the partner's involvement

Joint Customer Success:

Joint customer success refers to a common customer base between your organization and partners who are using your joint product or solution. The KPIs for this common customer success are the following:

  • Customer Overlap: Number of customers you share in common
  • NPS: What is the average NPS score for users in this joint solution
  • Renewal Rate: What is the renewal rate of your joint customers
  • Upsell/Cross-sell: How often your partner helps with upsell or cross-sell

Product Engagement

Another category used to measure your partnership's success is their level of engagement with your product. Ideally, your partners are invested in your product to a certain degree. For example, if you provide product training to your partners, they must educate their teams on your product, which will be more valuable to you in the long run.

KPIs to measure:

  • Has your partner developed any integration with your product
  • How many customers have been certified on your product
  • Does your partner have a sandbox account? What is their frequency of using it?


A great Go-to-Market (GTM) partnership requires a strategic approach that aligns with your business goals and values, targets the right audience, and leverages effective marketing and distribution channels. By following best practices such as thorough market research, defining clear objectives and KPIs, creating unique value propositions, and fostering cross-functional collaboration, businesses can quickly maximize the impact of their GTM strategies.

As you launch your GTM strategy, consider taking an expert consultation to help you meet your partnership goals. Explore how HSV Digital's expertise can fuel your growth. Whether it's strategic planning, channel optimization, or partner matchmaking, we've got you covered. Contact us today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common pitfalls to avoid when looking for ideal GTM partners

Businesses should avoid pitfalls like ignoring market feedback, not clearly defining their target audience, failing to coordinate with partners effectively, and neglecting the sales process.

How do we motivate GTM partners beyond financial incentives?

Besides financial incentives, focus on personalized training opportunities, recognizing top performers, engaging in co-marketing ventures, and fostering feedback loops and knowledge-sharing platforms to keep partners motivated and engaged.

How can businesses ensure they collaborate effectively and stay aligned with their channel partners in GTM strategies?

Ensuring successful collaboration involves establishing open communication, offering incentives, providing valuable resources and tools, and consistently reviewing and optimizing strategies based on feedback and performance metrics.

Jaspreet K. Lidder

About the Author

Experienced B2B Content Specialist with over 4 years of success in crafting compelling assets for channel and partner marketing. I possess a deep understanding of market dynamics, allowing me to create impactful narratives that resonate with diverse audiences. My experience has enabled me to translate complex data insights into engaging stories that inform, educate, and inspire action across various content formats. I excel at crafting narratives that showcase data trends, best practices, and innovations across channel and partner marketing.

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