My #1 Lesson in Reseller Strategy that led to $250M+

My #1 Lesson in Reseller Strategy that led to $250M+

Nelson Wang 5 min

Back in 2014, I was the Head of Commercial Channels at Box and I worked with resellers primarily then.

Here's a picture of Eric and me visiting SHI, one of our largest resellers.  

We were true road warriors. 

I remember I visited 100+ cities to meet, enable and GTM with resellers in one year.  

Marriott was my second home. 😂

Looking back, it's a bit wild to think that I've worked with resellers for 17+ years.

In that time, I've driven $250M in revenue with them. 

I used to think that if I simply recruited, trained and led a co-sell motion with resellers, that would certainly lead to big revenue growth...right?

Don't get me wrong.

It helped.

But I learned the most important lesson about building a reseller strategy the hard way.

Now that I've launched a reseller program 5 times and have participated in 7 (including two that did it incredibly well at VMware and Cisco), I can tell you with clarity that the #1 most important thing you can do is this:

You need to be crystal clear on swim lanes.

Are reseller discounts helpful?  Yes.

Is co-selling impactful? Yes.

Can compensation neutrality help drive revenue and reduce sales friction? Yes.  

But in the end, all of the tactics won't drive long term growth sustainably without clear swim lanes.

This is the most strategic decision you'll make.  

By the way, if you need help building a reseller strategy, I highly recommend using this template I built.

I'll walk you through how you need to think about this in 3 simple ways:

There are really only 3 GTMs with resellers.


#1: The first GTM is 100% reseller-led.  

This means you go all in with resellers and it's the only way your customers can buy your technology. 

This can be incredibly powerful, because you'll distribute leads to resellers and have them drive the sales motion (whether it's co-sell or they own the sales cycle on independently), and as they grow revenue and profits over time, they invest back into the partnership and introduce more customers to you over time.  

There's also generally less conflict with sales teams because it's the only route to market, especially if it's a co-selling motion.

This is known as the flywheel effect, as shown in the image I made below. 

That said, this can be hard for many technology companies today especially with the product led growth GTM motion.  

Which leads me to the second GTM motion:


#2: The second GTM is split between direct sales and resellers, without clear swim lanes.

This is the most common GTM in PLG companies, but the most problematic.  

Because no swim lanes are defined, there can be a lot of sales conflict, confusion on when to engage, unwillingness to share leads (and certainly lack of incentives without compensation neutrality) and little to no reciprocation from the partners due to the lack of engagement. 

As you can imagine, it doesn't land well with a reseller when you say "Can you help walk us into your customers because we'll provide a 20% discount, but no to little leads because we already have a direct sales motion?" 

A reseller can have thousands of vendors they can potentially sell and as you can guess, the above strategy doesn't work in most cases. Lots of technology vendors offer discounts, co-selling and every other item typically listed on a partner program 


#3: The third GTM is split between direct sales and resellers, with clear swim lanes.

Here's an example of where you could establish swim lanes that are owned by resellers: 


And for most technology companies today, this is where the magic happens.

If you already have an established direct sales motion and substantial revenue without resellers, you'll want to implement this strategy, as the risk to move to 100% reseller led is often too risky for CxOs and the board to support.

As you build your reseller strategy, you'll want to think through how you can carve out swim lanes in key prioritized focus areas (My template here can walk you through this step by step).

Examples include:

1. Regions - Are their key regions with a large TAM that would be better served to be 100% reseller led?

For example, I've often seen APAC, LATAM and parts of EMEA be 100% reseller led.

2. Verticals - Are their key verticals where you'd want to lean into the expertise of the resellers, or where they have existing contractual vehicles you can leverage?

Examples include public sector such as SLED, FED (contractual vehicles + bidding process), healthcare, finance and more. 

3. Segments -  What key segments would be better suited to be 100% reseller led?  For example, are you having challenges with the volume of deals in the SMB space and your resellers already serve that segment incredibly well?  

The list goes on further of course! 

I hope this helps as a starting point to help you crush it with your reseller strategy.  Let's go make it happen. 



Whenever you're ready, here's how I can help you on partnerships:

1. The Partner Strategy Deck Template:

I've easily spent 80+ hours building partner strategy decks for a single company.  I don't want you to have to go through that pain. This 80-slide template is critical to saving you a lot of time, helping you get clarity on your partner strategy, getting executive alignment for resource allocation and will help you improve time to revenue.  It's the same template I've been refining over the last 17 years and has been absolutely critical to helping me go from zero to $150m+ ARR.  There's a reason this is the #1 best-selling template!  As a bonus, it now includes a video walk-through too! 🚀 Get it here.

2. The Reseller Strategy Deck Template (NEW!) - Leverage this 100-slide deck template to build a reseller strategy with the same principles and frameworks that helped me build a $250M+ reseller business over the last 18 years. 

3. Sales Strategy Deck - Leverage this 150 slide deck to build a sales strategy from zero to one.  As a leader at 5 unicorns + decacorns, I've worked closely with CROs and other sales leaders on sales strategies to help drive $2B+ in revenue. This deck took 100+ hours to put together. Check it out here.

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Have a training coming up where you're showcasing a partner in front of the sales team?

This deck is perfect for that. Over the last 17 years I've run 1,826 partner trainings across companies like Box, Miro, Airtable, Optimizely, Toptal, VMware and Cisco that led to $150M+ in SaaS partner revenue.

Leverage my pre-built template of 35 slides and save yourself hours of prep work.  This deck will help you crush it with your sales teams and lead to co-selling opportunities when executed well.  Get it here.

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Nelson Wang 5 min

My #1 Lesson in Reseller Strategy that led to $250M+

Whether you're aiming for a reseller-led approach or a balanced direct sales strategy, this article provides actionable insights and a detailed template to help you navigate your reseller relationships and maximize revenue.

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