Four Types of Channel Sales Partners to Seek Out

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Adapting to the new-normal has been a unique challenge for every retail company in 2020. Whether you're rebuilding your business model or slightly tweaking safety protocols to continue doing business, it's necessary to take a new look at your sales channels and how you are reaching all possible customers in 2021.

What are Channel Sales?

This has led to a new interest in the channel sales strategy. Channel selling is all about thinking outside the box of normal marketing and sales practices. No matter who you normally sell your product to, there are other brands and businesses that could benefit a great deal from partnering with you and helping to get your products and their products flying off the shelves together.  

Some channel partners own the shelves that the products fly off of. Some channel partners double-pair with you to combine audiences and cross-promote products together. Some channel-partners use your product in part of manufacturing their product, and your product makes theirs much better. In fact, there are four different types of channel partners that you should be aware of and put effort into building out your network in these directions.

Today, we're here to explore these four types of channel sales partners and why you should be reaching out to businesses that represent each and every category.  

Sell-To Partners: Manufacturing and Retailers

First, there are channel marketing partners that you sell directly to, and then they resell your product to consumers making a profit for both parties involved. Sell-to partners tend to come from either retailing where they personally sell your product or from manufacturing where your product is used to make their product better.

Always look for businesses that would be excited to buy regular crates of your product because they have their own individual motivation to resell the product in one form or another. New Sell-To partners are a benefit to any business, especially if you design and produce your own products. Interestingly, sell-to customers are also valid in the scope of digital products, provided they have a marketplace and demand.

Sell-Through Partners: Dealers and Distributors

Sell-through partners are exactly what they sound like: They help you find people who want to buy from you in bulk. They do the finding, the pitching, and the logistics for getting your product to their receiving clients. This is because sell-through partners are often dealers and distributors who have special deals around town to get the highest quality shipments to each retailer or venue that needs the shipment delivery.

Sell-through partners are looking for suppliers that can meet their demand and will help simplify the logistics of passing the sales on to you. If you're ready to work with sell-through partners, you can start building an interesting network of available marketplaces.

Sell-With Partners: Brand-Pairing Partners

Then there are channel marketing partners that literally want to partner with you. When you think of Sell-With partners, think about double-branded events where two companies come together to throw a bigger party than they could have alone. Two sets of logos, two products to promote, one great experience. It would be like a razor company partnering with a shaving cream company.

Your sell-with partners are going to be extremely complementary to your brand because your products are often bought together and promoting them together will boost sales for both you and your brand-pairing partner. Knowing the behaviors of your customers will help guide you toward who would make a great sell-with partner candidate.

You may also gain the benefit of their on-staff marketing experts leading to you becoming channel sales partners for each other and both benefitting from the marketing expertise in each team.

Referral Partners: Affiliates

Finally, there are affiliate marketers. These are often micro-influencers who have blogs and video series that are rising in popularity, and whose subject matter naturally complements your product. In fact, they may have been promoting your product before you found them. The only difference is that once you partner with an affiliate, you start paying them for mentioning your product positively, often, and with helpful links. Like your own private PPC (pay per click) campaign, affiliates will get a small amount of money every time a user clicks their specific provided URL and perhaps again if these referred leads convert into paying customers.


Never let yourself get stuck in a rut when channel marketing. There is always another potential channel sales partner around the corner because there are many ways that your product can fit into the production cycle or service package of another brand. If you want to expand your brand and your customer base to new unexplored partnership possibilities, then it's time to build your channel selling network. Businesses adapting to the post-COVID market will have a lot to tackle, and expanding into potential new channel markets is a great place to start.

Whether you are completely changing your selling strategy or just looking for ways to optimize your operations in 2021, we can help. Contact a fulfillment advisor today to find out how Rakuten Super Logistics can help you scale your business and meet customer demand in the new year.