8 Ways to Create Effective Channel Partner Training

31st January 2024


Table of Contents

From your dealers and distributors to your franchisees and resellers, your channel helps to hit your company’s overall goals. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to provide them with the best channel partner training. 

Businesses today have unprecedented reach. A customer from the other side of the globe can specify or order your product and have it arrive within a week. Yet accessibility doesn’t automatically translate to sales. Before an end customer even thinks about making a purchase, partners need to have the ability to connect and address their needs. That’s where training comes in…

However, since they don’t work directly for you, you can’t just provide your internal training programs and expect a direct knowledge transfer or morale boost.

In this blog, we explain what channel partner training is, how it will benefit your business and the key steps to take to build an effective online training program.

What is Channel Partner Training?

Training your channel partners equips them with the necessary information to function well with your entire network. It covers your brand, products and services, requirements from other channel partners, regulations, and how to sell your product or services.

It is invaluable for equipping your network with the know-how to serve customers in the best way possible, and in the process, winning loyalty and becoming a champion of the brand.

Working with partners to improve their knowledge has benefits that extend to every facet of your business, from your sales and market reach to your growth potential.

What Does Channel Partner Training Entail?

Training channel partners effectively involves several elements to ensure they are well-equipped to represent, sell, or support your products or services. 

Here are the key areas to cover in channel partner training:


Onboarding is typically a multi-step process that aims to get your partner’s knowledge and skills up-to-speed, exchange sales and marketing support and integrate them into your overall partner program. 

The following areas should be covered in all onboarding processes:

  • Education on the company’s brand values, mission, and culture.
  • Discussions on the potential gaps and weaknesses the training program will address moving forward to ensure goals are aligned and partners receive the right level of training.
  • Partners should also be taught how to use, navigate and make the most of your chosen PRM (partner relationship management) software and learning platform. 
  • Sharing information on consistent messaging and positioning to ensure a unified brand representation.

Comprehensive Product Knowledge Training 

Product training constitutes the meat of channel partner training. Throughout the training, partners are taught everything they need to know about your product, from basic specifications, features, benefits, applications and installation to advanced troubleshooting and use cases. 

In terms of after-sales service, instructions on maintenance or troubleshooting, if your partners will be taking on the support function. 

Many companies, like IBM, Philips and CommScope, choose to certify individuals after training as a method of recognition and an opportunity to help keep training up to date through recertification requirements. 

Sales and Marketing Skills

This stage of training should cover effective sales techniques and strategies specific to the products or services. Closed deals are the result of effective communication. 

During sales training, partners are taught how to talk to customers, address their needs, and deftly resolve any uncertainties they may have about purchasing.

The marketing aspect includes guidance on marketing tools and resources, including digital marketing, content marketing, and social media strategies.

Technical Training

Technical training starts with technical specifications, functionalities and operational mechanisms – not just about what the product does but how it does it. 

For example, if the product is a software solution, the training should cover its architecture, integration capabilities, and customisation options. If it’s a mechanical device, the focus should be on its engineering, component makeup, and operational parameters.

The goal is to equip partners with more than a surface-level understanding. For this, they need comprehensive knowledge that enables them to answer technical queries confidently and accurately. 

Market and Industry Insights

Training should include detailed information on customer demographics and buying behaviours. This knowledge enables channel partners to tailor their approaches to meet customer expectations and preferences.

Secondly, partners need to be well-versed in current industry trends and challenges, including understanding how these trends impact product and customer decisions and navigating industry-specific challenges like regulatory changes or technological disruptions.

Providing market and industry insights is about transforming data into actionable strategies, helping partners engage more effectively with customers, and maintaining a competitive edge. 

Steps for Designing Effective Online Channel Partner Training Programs

So, you know how it’s beneficial to train your channel partners and have the confidence to sell the idea to them. Now it’s time to focus on building a training program that works:

1. Identify Training Objectives

Objectives provide much-needed direction for effective training programs. Find out what your channel partners need to learn, and what they don’t, as this will serve as the basis of your objectives. Partner objectives can vary depending on how familiar they are with your network, what role they play in your supply chain, product launches and plans to penetrate new markets.

These objectives should be aligned with your organisation’s overall objectives and communicated with your partners. Do you aim to expand to new markets, offer additional products, or onboard more partners quickly?

2. Identify the Individuals Who Need the Training

You need to understand your audience once you realise the information and skill gaps. Each topic has to be explained differently depending on the level of knowledge of the learners taking the course and the role they are undertaking. 

Is it the front-facing sales department that you are designing a program for? Is it the technical support team? What about the marketers for a specific channel partner? 

3. Identify the Best Training Method

There are different ways to train channel partners, but they can be boiled down to traditional and online methods. 

Dynamic in-person interactions that traditional learning does best can’t be fully replicated, however, there is a high cost to assembling large groups of people with different skill levels and work schedules for classroom education and conferences. 

The benefits of eLearning make it the optimal method for scalable training. It’s more cost-efficient and convenient than sending partners to workshops and seminars. Online courses can be accessed anywhere and anytime at their own pace. Combined with occasional live training sessions, like in blended learning, your organisation can enjoy the best of both worlds.

4. Offer Personalisation and Flexibility

Diversity in learning styles calls for personalised training. Every partner has a unique learning requirement and way of absorbing information. Tailoring learning paths meets these diverse needs head-on and leads to better engagement, deeper understanding, and sounder application of knowledge.

Offering flexible training modules lets them learn at their own pace. Whether it’s bite-sized lessons or on-demand webinars, flexibility enhances learning. 

Instead of dropping multiple complete courses on your channel partners, you can slowly dole out small chunks of educational content that focus on one lesson at a time. They run full-time businesses themselves with deadlines to meet. Microlearning can fit into their schedules more easily while highlighting the most important concepts they need to absorb.

5. Use the Right LMS 

Your selected Learning Management System (LMS) is the backbone of your online training program. The right platform makes all the difference.

Some key features to look out for are:

  • Ease of use – User-friendly is key. An intuitive LMS means less time learning the system, and more time learning the content. It should be straightforward for both trainers and partners.
  • Compatibility and integration – Seamless integration matters. The LMS should easily mesh with your existing systems and tools. Smooth integration equals fewer technical hiccups.
  • Mobile accessibility – Learning on the go is a must. A mobile-friendly LMS allows partners to access training anytime, anywhere. 
  • Customisation options – Personalise the experience. Look for an LMS that lets you tailor content and paths to suit diverse needs. Customisation enhances relevance and engagement.
  • Tracking and reporting – Keep an eye on progress. An effective LMS provides industry-specific tracking and reporting features, great for measuring training effectiveness and enabling you to make data-driven improvements.
  • Collaboration features – Learning can be social. Features that promote collaboration, like forums and chat rooms, enrich the learning experience, encouraging knowledge sharing and community building.
  • Security and reliability – Ensure the LMS is secure and reliable, protecting both your content and user data. 
  • Scalability – Think big. Your LMS should grow with your program. Scalability ensures the system can handle increasing loads, global reach and evolving needs.

6. Create Engaging eLearning Content

Start by identifying existing resources within your organisation that can serve as foundational elements for the training. 

Whether it’s product manuals, internal documents, or past training modules, these assets are invaluable. 

As you sift through this material, prioritise content that aligns with your training objectives. Reach out to different departments or experts in your organisation; their insights can enrich your content, providing depth and relevance. Tapping internal experts minimises costs as you don’t have to hire anyone new. 

Now that your source material is in hand, content development begins. Craft content that’s both informative and engaging, ensuring it resonates with your partners.

Decide on the best formats—be it videos, interactive modules, or written guides—that would appeal most to your audience. Diversifying your training material with multimedia, including videos, audio clips, and infographics, caters to various learning styles and keeps participants intrigued. You can also consider integrating real-life scenarios and case studies to ground the training in tangible examples. 

Personalisation is also a key consideration; tailor the learning paths to suit individual progress and interests, thereby maintaining learner engagement and motivation. 

As each piece is created, always circle back to your primary objectives, ensuring each module or session drives home the desired message. 

We know gamification can have positive effects on motivating learners. Online learning, especially through an LMS, facilitates gamification elements such as leaderboards, points and levelling systems, and digital badges for achievements. Gamifying courses introduce fun incentives and friendly competition that pushes learners to do their best.

7. Renew and Update

Utilising analytics and feedback tools is a critical strategy in online channel partner training, providing key insights into participant progress and engagement. These tools reveal how effectively partners interact with the material and highlight areas for improvement.

To measure ROI, analyse partners’ performance metrics pre- and post-training, such as sales figures and customer satisfaction. 

Additionally, direct feedback from participants offers invaluable perspectives on the training’s real-world impact.

By integrating quantitative data and qualitative insights, a comprehensive understanding of the program’s effectiveness, and its return on investment, can be achieved to help guide future enhancements.

8. Sell Your Training Courses to Partners

The benefits of courses seem obvious to you but may not always be for your partners. In such cases, you have to sell them the idea of taking your training courses.

Let your partners know you recognise their problems. You can communicate this with a marketing campaign that targets their corporate training leaders. It’s also advisable to include incentives (e.g. certificates/badges, discounts, giveaways, etc.) in the campaign to strengthen your case.

If you want to know how you can effectively sell your training courses to your partners, we have written a step-by-step guide that you can follow.

What Problems Can Online Channel Partner Training Address?

Diluted Branding

When people walk into Apple-authorised stores, they expect the same thing: clean aesthetics, premium service and highly knowledgeable staff. Location doesn’t matter. 

Whether you’re in Shanghai or London, the experience–and the brand’s vision–is consistent.

That’s the power of channel partner training. Your customers have set expectations for your business. When met, a stronger affinity and recognition for the brand is created.

Conversely, your reputation also takes a hit whenever customers have a bad experience that involves your product, although this can be avoided through training with consistent, standardised messaging. 

Outsider Mentality

Lack of customer trust is not the only issue training can solve. Because they’re not directly employed by your business, channel partners can feel left out of the loop. They can be less likely to care about the impact of their behaviour on your business.

Channel partner training brings them into the fold. With access to a constantly updated LMS and accompanying training program, partners can feel more included and are more likely to continue working with you. 

It also gives partners a deeper understanding of why you operate the way you do, which can help secure their support and enthusiasm.

Lack of Control

Clear communication is one of the challenges of working with channel partners. You are separate entities often focused on individual internal problems, quotas, and KPIs. Amidst the flurry of daily operations, regular communication can fall by the wayside. 

With an LMS, you have a way to keep the knowledge of channel partners updated without being too disruptive. Simple reminders about updated courses and incentives help keep product training front-of-mind for channel partners and also offer an additional source of communication

Rising Support Costs

When sufficient training is not offered, you will see a rise in service support costs. For example, if your product requires professional installation, each of your installers must have the competence to fit the product and check their work. In addition, as your company expands into new markets, you can expect to start facing issues unique to the region. 

Trained channel partners can help ease the strain on your in-house support agents by resolving issues before they reach your team. This helps customers get their troubles solved faster and helps decrease the cost of hiring more people to handle the load.

Competitor Influence

Knowledge will be your edge over every other product on the shelf. Around 70% of customers say knowledgeable salespeople heavily influence their purchasing decisions. The more trained partners are, the better they can sell your products.

And increased sales secure loyalty not just from customers. When channel partners can move your product faster off shelves and feel like they are fully supported, they’re more likely to choose to sell, specify or install your product over your competitors.

Training Diverse Partners Across the Globe

When businesses scale globally, this situation presents complexities due to language barriers, cultural differences, and the need for consistent training quality across all regions.

An LMS offers unique translation tools, robust tracking and analytics, cultural customisation, and a focus on consistent quality across various locations, providing a comprehensive solution to the challenge of training multiple partner employees globally. 

Lack of Tracking and Training Transparency

Organisations often face difficulties in tracking training completion, engagement and continuous learning, especially when training is face-to-face or classroom-based, without using an LMS.

By incorporating advanced reporting and customisable assessment tools, certification tracking, and automated renewal reminders, organisations can effectively manage the complex task of training, tracking, and ensuring compliance and certification among their global partner employees. 

High Costs of Face-to-Face Training

Delivering face-to-face training, especially to a geographically dispersed audience, incurs significant costs. These expenses can include travel for trainers or participants, time spent away from regular work duties, and the production of physical training materials. 

An online training approach not only minimises expenses and logistical complexities but also ensures timely, scalable, and uniform training experiences for global, multi-level audiences.

Lack of Training Resources

Online channel partner training effectively addresses the challenge of training numerous partners swiftly and efficiently, overcoming the limitations of traditional instructor-led methods. 

The conventional approach often leads to instructors being overextended, struggling to keep pace with the growing demand for training. This not only risks burnout for the instructors but also creates a bottleneck in knowledge dissemination. 

With online training, however, this constraint is eliminated. LMS’s enable the scalable distribution of training materials, ensuring consistent and uninterrupted access to knowledge for all partners, regardless of their number or location. 

This method also safeguards against the loss of crucial information, as online resources create a permanent, accessible repository of knowledge. 

Online training ensures that all partners receive the necessary training in a timely manner, without overburdening the instructors or risking knowledge silos.

Mistakes to Avoid 

There are a few common mistakes made when creating training programs. Instead of motivating channel partners, these oversights and errors are ultimately going to partners off your training courses.

Not Maintaining your Channel Partner Training

Sometimes businesses will spend time building and launching their training programs, release a large set of courses using a platform, and then the team will disperse to other projects, leaving the program behind and expecting it to run effectively on its own.  When launching courses, you have to maintain your focus and stick with it to ensure it works effectively as a tool for motivation.

The knowledge your partners need is constantly shifting, which means you’ve got to maintain relevance. And if you’re not updating your material, there will be no reason for your partners to come back to refresh their learning. They also won’t be able to find out about new products, new updates, or any changes in your sales strategy.

Looking at Training in Isolation

Another mistake organisations make is to look at training in isolation. Training has to be seen as an element in a broader partner program, which includes more than just training to motivate partners. 

It’s all about your sales model and your sales approach. It’s supporting your partner through product updates and maintaining your relationships. So, instead of looking at training in isolation,look at this from a long-term perspective and incorporate other methods of motivation to keep your channel partners performing as they should be.

Wahoo Learning’s Partner LMS and Training Delivery Services

Wahoo Learning’s Partner LMS and training delivery services offer a comprehensive solution to these challenges. By outsourcing the development and management of your channel partner training program to Wahoo Learning, you can bypass the need for additional internal resources.

Time-Saving: Wahoo Learning’s services streamline the process of creating and updating training materials, significantly reducing the time investment required from your organisation, and allowing you to focus on core operations while ensuring their partners receive top-quality training.

Expertise: Wahoo Learning brings specialised expertise in channel partner training development and delivery. The professional team is equipped with the skills and knowledge to create engaging, effective training content that resonates with channel partners.

Resource Efficiency: By utilising Wahoo Learning’s services, you can avoid the substantial costs and resources typically associated with developing and maintaining a training program, including savings on hiring specialised staff, purchasing and maintaining training software and other associated costs.

Consistent Quality and Management: With Wahoo Learning, you can ensure that your training program is not only high-quality but also consistently managed and updated, meaning channel partners always have access to the latest information and training resources, leading to better performance and adaptation to market changes.

Excited about channel partner training? Dive deeper into training program delivery with our blog ‘Outsourcing vs In-House – Which is Best for Delivering Your Training Program?’ and discover the pros and cons of outsourcing and in-house training delivery. 



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