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A channel partner is a third-party organization or individual that markets and sells products, services or technologies for a manufacturer or service provider via a partnering relationship.
Major technology organizations, like Microsoft, AMD, IBM, SAP and Oracle, form channel partner relationships at different levels to multiply product sales and distribution.
A channel partner relationship is also known as co-branding.
A channel partner may be a retailer, software/hardware vendor, distributor, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), systems integrator (SI) or value-added reseller (VAR).
Two well-known channel partner programs are:
A referral partner is a sales representative, consultant or customer that enhances marketing and boosts sales by directly referring customers to manufacturers via multiple channels.
Channel and referral partners are often compensated with gratis discounts, training, technical support or lead generation tools.