Training your channel partners equips them with the necessary information to function well with your entire network. It includes training them on your brand, products and services, requirements from other channel partners, regulations, and how to sell your company’s offerings.
From your vendors and distributors to your franchisees and resellers, they all keep your supply chain running and help hit your company’s overall goals. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to provide them with the best training possible.
The problem, however, is that since they don’t work for you, you can’t just provide them with your internal training programmes and expect a direct knowledge transfer or morale boost.
The Benefits of Training Channel Partners
The ultimate result of training your channel partners is that it helps both your businesses achieve success. Here are the benefits that lead up to that final point:
- Better communication and stronger network
Issues that might arise regarding your products, protocols, or performance expectations can be resolved before they become full-blown problems. Training opens up lines of communication. This makes it clear between your company and your partners that you are all in it together. They will believe in your partnership, making them more likely to stay.
- Less need for your support and a lower churn rate
Training your partners on customer support, such as answering tough questions and providing solutions fast, can significantly reduce the chances of you losing customers. Remember that it costs five times more to acquire customers than to retain existing ones. You can also save on resources that are typically used for regularly providing support to your partners for such issues. Educating channel partners has the bonus trickle-down effect of better educating your customers. And when customers know more about the strengths of your business, they are more likely to stay loyal.
- Increase in sales
An important part of the ongoing sales process is gauging customer satisfaction. Training channel partners to improve their communication with customers on that aspect has a positive impact on the sales process.
- Easier onboarding
It typically takes a long time to onboard new partners into your business network. However, a training programme based on previously successful onboarding methods can make the process much more efficient, especially when you start scaling operations.
- Protect your brand
In this age of social media and virality, an ignorant PR blunder from a partner can damage your brand by association. Training can alleviate that worry, knowing your partners represent your brand properly.
- Gather feedback
Measuring the effectiveness of training requires gaining feedback from your partners who undergo the programme. Take the results from your surveys and the sentiments from comments to improve your partnership.
Sell Your Training Courses to Partners
The benefits of these courses might seem obvious to you but may not always be for your partners. In such cases, you have to sell them on 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.
Designing Effective Channel Partner Training Programmes
Now that you know how it’s beneficial to train your channel partners and have the confidence to sell the idea to them, you can focus on building a training programme that works:
1. Identify training objectives
Objectives provide much needed direction for effective training programmes. Find out what your channel partners need to learn, as these will serve as your objectives. This can vary depending on how familiar they are with your network, what role they play in your supply chain, and a host of other factors.
Product launches and plans to penetrate new markets demand product and market training. Onboarding partners require general training on your business’ values and practices. Let your partners’ needs guide your programme design process.
2. Identify the individuals who need the training
Once you realise what the information and skill gaps are, you need to know your audience. Even one topic has to be explained differently depending on the level of knowledge of the learners taking the course.
Is it the front-facing sales department that you are designing a programme for? Is it the technical support team? What about the marketers for a specific channel partner? Each division of a company has its own familiarity with a subject, its own way of learning, and its own uses for new information and skills.
3. Align partner’s KPIs with company goals
Without KPIs in place, you will have no concrete proof that your training programmes are actually working. However, it’s not just enough that you have KPIs for your partners. They have to align with your company’s own goals.
If you want to increase customer retention by 30% in your current financial year, it should be clearly stated to your partners that this is your desired result from them taking your training course.
4. Identify the best training method
There are different ways you can go about training 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, but there is a great resource cost to assembling large groups of people with different skill levels and work schedules for classroom education and conferences. Our new normal has also made this method impossible for the foreseeable future.
The benefits of eLearning make it the optimal method for corporate training. It’s more cost-efficient and convenient than sending employees to workshops and seminars. Employees can access online courses 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.
5. Gamify the training courses
We know gamification can have positive effects on motivating learners. Online learning, especially through a learning management system (LMS), facilitates gamification elements such as leaderboards, points and levelling systems, and digital badges for achievements. Gamifying courses introduces fun incentives and friendly competition that pushes learners to do their best.
6. Break down topics into bite-sized content
Instead of dropping multiple complete courses on your channel partners, you can slowly dole out small chunks of educational content that focuses 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.
7. Use the right LMS
In-person training is out of the question for the immediate future, in light of COVID-19. Thankfully, having an LMS allows channel partner training to continue. However, not just any LMS will do.
A good LMS has certain features you’ll need for your channel partners. It should be optimised for various devices like smartphones and tablets. It has to scale well with the size of your business network, so a cloud-based LMS is ideal. Robust tracking and reporting are necessities if you want to properly measure your channel partners’ training compliance and performance.
8. Renew and update
As good as your partner training programme is, it’s not a set-and-forget deal. There might be changes to your products or new regulations that your partners need to be informed of.
Technological innovation can raise industry standards, and new skills must be developed to stay competitive. Ensure continued relevance and success by regularly updating your partners’ training courses.
Make Training Accessible and Valuable to Channel Partners
Your channel partners need to see the value of training beyond your own business’ immediate benefit. Communicate what’s in it for them. Identify their pain points and create training programmes that address them in a digestible and engaging format. Reward their efforts accordingly. If new challenges arrive, renew your training programmes so that your channel partners can rise to the occasion.
Need help creating a strategic, effective channel partner training programme? Wahoo Learning has a team of experts that can help. Contact us today to see how we help develop, deploy, administer and manage your programme.