News flash! Unless you've been out of the Channel for a while, you know Partners are not just a sales distribution extension of a Vendor anymore. They are independent entities with their own solutions and constantly innovating to stay ahead. In fact, I’m sure you know as well as I do that this shift in the Channel from Vendor-driven to Partner-driven has been a hot topic for several years. Yet, we still see Vendors grappling with the age old question of how to engage and enable Partners through programs, resources, trainings, and solutions in a world where time is currency and two-way communications are earned.
In today’s Channel, misalignment of Vendor and Partner goals is a waste of time and opportunity so it’s important to begin all Partner-facing conversations by listening as they tell you about their challenges and successes and then tailor your programs to meet those needs. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to attend industry events where many Partners are present and join in their conversations. Barring face-time opportunities, the best approach is to take a critical look at your programs and conduct a full scale assessment, including partner interviews to ask the right questions and find out exactly what’s working and what isn’t.
Partner Enablement - Where to Begin: To ensure your Partners are successful, you always need to be thinking about their “journey.” Just because they’re recruited does not mean they will sell. It is up to you to provide the resources they need, in place, to help Partners build their business and drive revenue for you both.
Platforms: Your Partner Portal creates the foundation for successful Partner enablement initiatives and thankfully, portal development has come a looooooong way since inception - especially in terms of available options and customizations. The most challenging part of any Partner portal/PRM platform is the implementation. One thing we’ve learned when helping Vendors through implementations is that you need to have a lot of questions answered before you engage with a platform, including:
How do I want my Partners to leverage this tool?
What does a user friendly experience look like?
What materials do my Partners need in my platform?
How Does it Work: When creating materials to put into a Partner portal there are a few staples that most Partners expect to find including “must haves” such as marketing automation, co-branded assets, integration with a CRM, and trainings. There are also “nice to haves” i.e.: content and social syndication and finally the “good to haves” - think marketplace and deal registration. If you have all of these components and you’re still not gaining the traction you want, it’s time to take a critical look at your user experience and to-Partner communications to pinpoint where improvements can be made.
Content that Navigates the Journey: When creating materials to be loaded into the portal, it is important that they help Partner navigate the Partner Journey. Think about your Partners’ experience. What are they are going to need and when are they going to need it. Materials may include Partner Program Guides, sales tools, and general “how to” documents around the program, resources, and materials.
Channel enablement can be daunting. Call us crazy but we find it fun and informative. If you need a few pointers to get started, let us know, we’re happy to help!