As The Channel evolves alongside digital transformation, Partners continue to work through their shifts from one-and-done sales models to recurring revenue while working with multiple Vendors. Staying top-of-mind with Channel Partners has always been a challenge for Vendors and as The Channel shifts, the challenge becomes greater and more complicated.
Educating Partners is Key for Channel growth:
Why does education work well for staying top-of-mind? Because, Partners and Vendors are people and people naturally want to deepen their relationships with those who spend time and resources to help them flourish. We find that workshops, both live and virtual are a great way to engage Partners in fulfilling learning experiences whether training them on marketing, technologies, or other topics related to your partnership.
Having lead and planned hundreds of partner-facing workshops, here are a few tricks we use for success.
Begin with the end in mind:
Walk in your Partners’ shoes and determine what’s in it for them – WIIFT. What do you hope they gain from this experience, what would make them want to attend, and how can you align your topic, presentation and promotion to that outcome?
How will you measure success over the long-term? It’s great when Partners walk away feeling they got something out of a training but will they remember it tomorrow and apply the concepts for long-term gain? For example if your topic educates Partners on integrated demand generation strategy how will you measure your success six months or a year from now?
Once the topic is set and your presentation is ready ask a colleague to go through it and give critical feed back. Then practice, practice, and practice in order to deliver a stellar performance.
Create an inviting environment:
The HOW you present information is just as important as the information itself. We’ve all been in workshops or training sessions where the content was exciting but the delivery lacked and there’s a big difference between being engaged with the learning and wondering if anyone will notice if you duck out.
Break the ice in smaller groups by having attendees introduce themselves.
Be personable and if at all possible bring humor in. Try funny images on PPT decks, tell a joke or relate the content back to a funny anecdote. Doing so makes the whole experience more memorable.
Avoid death by PowerPoint. Ask questions, lead group activities, and have the participants engage in hands on tasks that they can takeaway and duplicate.
Encourage attendees to take breaks if needed. For longer sessions, build breaks into the presentation.
Engaging the Partner audience:
If you’re not actively engaging the Partners from the moment you begin your presentation, you’ve lost them and the likelihood that they will want to attend another session with you is slim.
If the workshop spans multiple days, plan events or entertainment afterhours to encourage collaboration and networking.
For virtual events, open up a chat for Q/A and use software to conduct polls during the session to keep participants alert and engaged.
End with the start in mind and steer the conversations towards what’s in it for them.
Engagement goes beyond the initial workshop. Leave them with an action item such as next steps, a printed guide, or access to additional training.
Remember to bring EVERYTHING:
It’s easy to forget an extra this or that or not even think you might need something like a Band-Aid or a stapler. From extra pens to notepads to phone chargers, bring a travelling “junk drawer” of items you might need in a pinch. In our Channel event planning e-book with checklist, we include an extensive list of the must-haves.
Simple Channel Partner workshop format:
Make your case. Be up front about why your topic matters to them.
Point out things they may not have thought of. For example, when talking about social selling, teach them to download their LinkedIn connections to use as a list and tell them why those people are more likely to open their email.
Have attendees engage in an exercise.
Debrief with them after the exercise. Where did they get stuck? What did they learn or what did they realize they want to know more about? Invite them to share.
After the event, connect with them on social media and post content relevant to the topic.
Creating and executing engaging educational events is one of the most important things Vendors can do to stay top-of-mind with their Partners especially if you want them to attend future events. Think about workshops you’ve attended, what made it great vs. mediocre? What did you like or not like? As a presenter, the answers will help you develop a course of action that results in happy Partners and once the course is set… practice… practice… practice before your debut.