To build a successful partner channel program, it’s important to carefully manage and nurture the vendor/partner relationship throughout its journey. Several key components must be considered to ensure a successful channel partner program, which includes understanding your channel partners, providing a top-quality onboarding process, ongoing communication, and measuring success.
When maximised to its full potential, the relationship will drive successful channel partner programs and can facilitate increased sales activity, revenue, new customers, and opportunities.
Read on to review our six tips for ensuring channel partner success…
Top Tips for Ensuring Channel Partner Success
1. Understanding Your Channel Partners
When working with a channel partner, it is essential to identify and understand their needs and goals from the relationship – and there might be some different views on what success looks like, so it is important to align on partnership goals right from the beginning. Aligning these with your business objectives ensures that both parties are content with the direction of the relationship and understand the key milestones along the way. Creating clear and effective communication channels right from the beginning, and that it is a two-way channel, is crucial.
2. Provide a Top-Quality Onboarding Process
Developing a comprehensive and effective onboarding plan from the outset will help create engaged, strong, loyal channel partnerships. Treat your channel partner(s) as you would a new employee – the steps and procedures should be similar. Each channel partner should be provided with detailed information about your products, services and processes, and these should be kept up to date with any new developments or new launches. From the beginning, partners should also have access to a comprehensive library of the resources they need to succeed, ensuring the best possible chance of channel partner success.
Online training platforms, such as a learning management system (LMS), allow learning new skills and new company information to be more efficient, providing well-structured, comprehensive training whenever it is needed. The quicker you can supply training to partners, the sooner they can start selling your service or product, so setting this up in advance is very beneficial.
3. Provide Ongoing Support and Communication
Keeping your channel partners updated regularly and giving them all the information and tools, they need to succeed for your business is important for achieving success together. When there are company updates or new products, make sure your channel partners are included in the communications plan and are reliably and efficiently updated – the more information they have, the better service they can deliver.
Dedicated support and resources should be set up and offered to partners, incorporating regular touchpoints to provide channel partners with the opportunity, and encouragement, to give feedback and suggestions and keep you updated on their progress.
4. Offer the Right Incentives and Rewards
When channel partners are succeeding and performing as agreed, or delivering above and beyond their targets, there should be a reward for this success. Having an open conversation about the best reward and compensation structure should happen at the beginning of the partnership and be reviewed regularly, particularly if they are consistently exceeding (or not meeting) targets.
Working together to create a balanced program that rewards performance will help to keep motivation and engagement levels high. Incentives and rewards don’t always need to focus on sales, milestones such as course completion and new qualifications could also be considered. Also, rewards don’t always have to be financial, you could think about developing further qualifications, creating a preferred partner program or marketing and social media profile boosts.
5. Measure Success and Continually Replicate it
Performance and productivity cannot be effectively reviewed or modified without proper and regular measurement against pre-agreed objectives.
There are four metrics which can give a concise picture of channel partner performance:
- Financial fitness — There’s no doubt that revenue rules. If the relationship isn’t producing revenue opportunities for both parties, there’s little reason to continue.
- Strategic strength — Does the partnership increase your advantage by increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty? Is this partnership opening up new markets or customer opportunities?
- Operational performance — Is the partnership meeting operating metrics and milestones? This can be measured through the number of customer visits and staff members trained and certified (both in sales positioning and implementation).
- Relationship health – The “soft” measurement of personal relationships – measuring the relationship chemistry, trust developed, the flow of communications and the ease of doing business. One of the hardest facets to measure, but a key metric of partnership potential.
Evaluating and adjusting results is part of the process, so involve your partners in the discussions. It should be a collaborative process and one that works for both sides. Don’t be afraid to tweak and make changes as you go along as needed and do remember, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all, so results may vary from partner to partner.
When key performance indicators are met and even exceeded, it is important to celebrate success and recognise the top-performing partners – a little recognition can often go a long way!
6. Managed Training for Partners
Everyone learns differently. Therefore, offering customised and comprehensive training based on a partner’s needs and skills will elevate your channel partner training program and support success. Well-managed training for partners doesn’t stop once the program is released – ensure you are continuously updating and improving your content to provide an even better training program that will keep your learners engaged.
In summary, an effective channel partner program helps organisations, partners, and customers to achieve success. Communication is key, setting expectations and targets, progress, and rewards, as well as feedback between both parties, will help to keep the relationship healthy and happy. Continuous evaluation and improvement of the programs will also help your partners to evolve and develop.
Following these steps will not only help to increase sales and revenue, but it will also help to develop long and successful channel partner relationships.
Are you looking for ways to further enhance your channel partner program and drive success? Check out our latest blog post “8 Ways to Create Effective Channel Partner Training” to discover practical tips and strategies for designing and implementing successful training programs