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The Challenges of Managing a Partner Network

Published: 25th July 2019

There are some key challenges for any sales organisation dealing with and managing a partner network. Managing Partners involves much more than product training and quarterly incentives. It requires a mutual business strategy, training, mentoring, and support on how to sell your product effectively in a complex sales environment.

Building and gaining mutual trust and understanding of a win-win working relationship is the beginning of having effective communication. Being able to communicate in a common language regarding the status of key opportunities and the state of the sales pipeline is critical to enable the joint development of winning deals and market development strategies. Failure to develop a common framework for such communication results in poor resource allocation, lost deals, and inconsistent revenue performance.

The Partnership Matters

Just as the Pareto principle suggests that 80 percent of your revenues and profits often come from 20 percent of your customers, a similar relationship exists within the Partner network.

You regularly depend on the high-performing key Partners to make your yearly numbers and, without whom, your company revenues would surely suffer. In the direct selling world, significant time and energy is spent managing these key customer relationships. In the channel, however, much less attention is paid. Failing to deploy a consistent methodology and process to manage these “high performer” Partners is a recipe for disaster.

Having the right conversation at the right level with a clearly understood and mutually agreed upon business plan is critical. The plan should have action items assigned to owners and have a regular cadence for follow up, review, and update.

Maximising the Partnership

Let’s talk about maximising partnerships. Developing and optimising a Partner strategy is fundamental to maximising partnerships.  Using a structured systematic methodology for approaching the planning process ensures that a comprehensive plan can be created, tested, designed and deployed. Careful attention should be paid to the details of market segmentation concerning products, customers and partners and incorporating the market dynamics involved in successfully delivering a product.

Focusing on factors that will deliver maximum impact is key to successful execution of the Partner strategy and selection of the Partners who will achieve partner goals.

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Detailed Partner profiling lays the foundation for recruiting and leveraging the most effective partners, and ensures customer satisfaction and maximum revenue.

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Building programmes, such as training and certification, specifically aimed at energising and mobilising these carefully selected and recruited partners ensures the Partner will enjoy the business benefits of aligning with a company that cares about their Partners' success.

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Treating Partners in the same fashion as you would your own internal sales teams further strengthens their focus and loyalty.

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Including key performance indicators that will function as metrics for management early in the process ensures timely and accurate information will be available for gauging the Partner’s success on your behalf.

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Finally, automating the programs infrastructure so that it is easy for Partners to do business with you contributes to a compelling business proposition that aids in continually growing, cultivating and grooming partners for greater productivity over time.

At Wahoo Learning, we understand the challenges but also the benefits and rewards of effective Partner programmes, and can help support your training and certification needs.

For over 20 years we have been supporting companies such as CommScope, a major supplier of network infrastructure products globally, to support their global Partner Programme. With over 20,000 courses sold into the partner network annually, CommScope and their partners have recognised the value that training has brought to their relationships.

View the case study here:

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The author - Lloyd Smith

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Lloyd is the Managing Director of Wahoo Learning. He has a passion for the learning technology industry, particularly the latest innovations and technologies.

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