It must be in the air as lately we’re having a lot of conversations about partner journeys. There has been talk about a customer journey but what exactly is a partner journey? When your partners set out to do anything with your program, what is their experience? What is the process? Do they walk away with an understanding of what the benefit is to them? Are they able to accomplish their goals?
I recently interviewed several partners about resources their vendors provide for them. When asked why they launched more business with a specific vendor over another, their answer was either “My Channel Account Manager navigates the process for me” or “Their portal is much easier to navigate and find what I need”. How scary is that? You could have the superior product, more market share, and a more robust channel team but if your portal is difficult to navigate you’re getting less partner engagement than your competition.
The Partner Journey
Whatever channel partners set out to do, whether it’s join your partner program, find something on the portal, customize content, or send an email from your marketing automation tool, each and every experience they have can be defined as a journey. As you think of your partners’ journey, there are several questions to consider: If you weren’t the architect behind many of their programs would YOU know how to navigate? As you make your way through your resources, do they make sense? Are they what partners want? Are they going to help partners build their business? Whether their journey is a good experience or a challenge is entirely up to you and your process for their journey.
What’s wrong with a challenging Partner Journey?
Some of you may think “So what? If my partners want my resources or want to work with us, they’ll jump through our hoops.” While partners may not stomp their feet or stop doing business with you, it is making an impact.
Think of your own experience. When registering for something or eating at a nice restaurant, if the process is more difficult than it should be are you running back to do business with them again? I’m certainly not. I’ve gone so far as to not lease the same brand of car to avoid working with a difficult service department.
Creating a Successful Partner Journey
It’s hard to prescribe something because one size does NOT fit all but you should start by asking your partners what they need. There’s nothing worse than creating a program in a bubble then proudly running to show your partners the shiny new program you made only to be shot down with dirty looks because it doesn’t support their business at all. Show you understand their business by asking them before you create something.
The next step, which is probably going to be the most challenging, is to take an objective look at the process. Envision yourself standing at the base of a trail. Does the journey look like it’s going to be straightforward and teach you things along the way or are you looking at the start of the Labyrinth movie and David Bowie is laughing at you trying to navigate your way? (Did I just date myself?)
Ask your peers! Whether they’ve been through the process or not they can act as a partner would and try to navigate their way. Do they get lost? Do they see the value?
Finally and most importantly ask your partners! Not just your advisory board! Ask an everyday, mom and pop, working out of the garage partner to navigate your process. Are they getting what they need? If not, you need to reassess.
Let us be your objective voice. We’re always here to help even if it’s just to look at your current journey and say “oh yeah, that needs work” or “nicely done”.
How do you think your partner journey looks today? Anything you’d like to share on the process?
Photo credit: http://innogise.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/business-is-a-journey-pull-over-and-ask-for-direction/