5 Essential Pillars in Creating a Channel Partner Program
The landscape of channel partner programs is changing rapidly. The products in the technology sector continue to evolve from legacy solutions to cloud-based products and services. To read more on these changes, we have another article you can read here: The Importance of Training and Certification in Channel Enablement.
A recent report from Gartner points out buyers today expect partners to link purchases to improved ROI. Advertising that gives ambiguous promises such as “reliable, trusted, proven” is no longer enough.
As cloud solutions are becoming more and more popular, buyers are also looking for superior long-term support and experience, not just a good deal on a one-time purchase. The same report points out that the majority of the total revenue comes from only 5% of partners because most partners are of no help when buyers search for information and solutions to their needs. This is a stark contrast to the well-established 80/20 rule.
It’s time to ask yourself: How are my channel partners performing? When was the last time that I picked up the phone and checked? Remember that when management says “you can only expect what you inspect” the phrase exists for a very good reason.
Another common problem is that not all partners are successful at linking technology purchases to improved business outcomes of the clients.
Here’s how you can quickly check if your partners are doing well in this area. Glance over their marketing materials and ask yourself: Is this part about the client and their needs or is it about our products? Unfortunately, you will often see marketing that screams “me, me, me” instead of explaining “these are the problems and pain points that you’re facing, here’s what we can do to help you.”
If you want to create a channel partner program that delivers results and overcomes these common shortcomings, you need the following five essential pillars in your partnership program:
1. Recruit the right partners.
In its essence, successful recruitment is a marketing and analytics task. This means that you need to deliver the right message to the right prospects via effective advertising channels and have the prospects take the desired action based on the activities, outcomes and skills required.
Effective recruitment starts with gaining clarity. Don’t spend time trying to attract prospects that are not qualified. Before you recruit new partners, identify what organizations you want as partners. Find out more about their goals and communicate to them in their language about why they should become your partner and how working together with you will help their organization reach its business goals. If your mission is to make the life of your clients better, talk about that. When trying to attract partners, some organizations only talk about business, money and numbers. Then they are surprised to get partners only interested in money and not in their mission. Success lies in gaining mindshare.
Your objective is to find not just more partners, but more partners that will commit to becoming certified. To do so, create a recruitment campaign and a process that will attract the prospects you want.
2. Engage partners by jointly developing training and marketing plans.
To effectively recruit new partners, you need to show them that you want to help them accomplish their business goals.
The engagement stage is the time to deliver on this promise. First, gain a deep understanding of the goals and the culture of your partners. Next, help them develop training, plans and go-to-market materials they need to become successful.
One of the biggest mistakes at this stage is to simply give your new partners marketing and training materials that you developed. This is not enough. You need to learn more about your partners and change your materials and tools in a way that makes them a good fit for your partners. There also needs to be a plan that directly links what you are providing to the partners’ business goals and objectives.
3. Enable and guide partners in becoming sales ready and provide continuous support.
Just like it is not enough to simply provide training materials and marketing plans to your new partners, it is not enough to simply provide them with tools and platforms. According to the same Report from Gartner, 70% of companies have partners that don’t know where and how they can find sales materials available to them.
Your end customers expect not a one-time sale, but a continuous superior customer experience and support. For your partners to deliver it to your customers, you need to do the same for your partners. Set the conditions and processes from the very beginning in such a way that your desired outcomes happen as a part of the system.
4. Sales activate sales teams of your partners.
Every effective system has three components. They are goals and objectives, a process to achieve the goals and objectives and continuous feedback, support and adjustments. CGS has a number of proven Sales Accelerator Tools that will help you not only activate sales teams but also measure, monitor and improve their performance.
5. Consult and assist in the creation of marketing programs and product promotions that bring in qualified leads.
A successful channel partner program doesn’t end with enabling your partners and sales activating their teams. Superior channel enablement needs to take care of all the stages of a sales cycle, including lead generation. The goal at this stage is to help your partners develop marketing programs that bring in qualified leads.
When you work with multiple partners, you have more data and information than any single partner. Use the analytics, performance metrics, sales, and marketing data to identify how you can help your partners perform better and accomplish their and your goals faster and more effectively. Then, assist the partners in developing and implementing a marketing program.
One of the best ways to motivate your partners is to have a performance-based incentive program. These programs help you improve relationships, give you an opportunity to be in contact with your partners more often and showcase the partners that perform well.
For more tips and expert advice on scaling your channel for success, click here to learn about our channel enablement services.