Every single organization with the aspirations of launching a partner program hopes to recognize all of the common benefits with help of the Partner Engagement Plan. Decreased sales cycles, higher deal sizes, lower churn rates… the list goes on. A key cornerstone to a bountiful Channel Partner Program is communication, not just spray and pray, but thoughtful and intentional partner engagement strategies.
Every channel partner has their pick of the litter when it comes to which vendor they are going to partner with. Acknowledging this fact is tough to do, but crucial to form a foundation of understanding that every component of your partner’s engagement strategy has to be buttoned up so your organization stands out amongst the crowd.
When drafting and executing your partner engagement strategies, ensure it is made in favor of your partners and consider the prevailing market competition. The more engaged plan you can create, the greater tendency it will have to empower the partners to sell more of your products and services.
Additionally, when creating, and then executing your partner engagement plan, make sure that it is built to benefit your partners, and not yourself as the vendor. Seems like common sense, but you know what they say…. common sense isn’t always common. The more you put your partners at the forefront of your engagement strategy, the better off you will be.
The following are some of the major challenges that seem to rear their ugly heads along the partner engagement plan:
1. Unnecessary onboarding steps
In a competitive environment, no one wants to get involved in a long, drawn-out onboarding process. This is your first, and only shot, at a solid first impression. Your partner onboarding sets the tone for how partners will perceive the future of a relationship with your organization looks like. If the first step involves unnecessary documentation or elementary training… put a stop to it immediately. This is a negative first impression and a common challenge for Partner Engagement strategy.
2. Not acknowledging where your Partner is in their journey
We have found most sellers, at partners are hungry for training and career growth; these reps are usually the first to jump in take advantage of everything your organization is offering.
Sometimes, your partners just want to get the deal registration complete, earn their SPIFF, and move on. Sometimes, partners just aren’t interested in taking the next step in their relationship with you, whether that be my getting certified in a specific product or executing a marketing campaign. Be ok with that, and make sure to not force the next steps.
Acknowledge this fact that maybe the seller at your partner has previous experience with your company and products, and doesn’t need the unnecessary hurdles placed in front of them just to register a deal. The purpose of training and certification is to drive partner engagement when it is appropriate. Partner engagement strategies should be dynamic, tailored to the unique needs of your partners and their sellers.
3. A messy Partner Portal
Your partner portal is the one-stop shop for everything your partner needs. This is a good, and sometimes a bad thing.
Just because you can add something to your partner portal, should you? Constantly be asking yourself, what value will this add for my partner? Is this relevant for this type of partner, at this tier or should it be exposed to only my higher-level partners? If your partner portal software comes with a grouping or segmentation capability. Take advantage of it for the most obvious reason which is the amplification of Partner Engagement.
You should be revisiting your partner portal at least once a quarter to review how your partners have engaged with your content. If something isn’t being used, sunset it and remove it. Don’t just add stuff to make it look full, that only leads to partners not knowing what they should focus on when they do come to interact with your organization inside your partner portal.
4. Not Updating Deals
This is the holy grail that every vendor doing business through partners hopes to achieve, partners who regularly update deal registrations. However, the problem usually lies with the vendor, unfortunately. Often, we have found vendors are the ones who miss service level agreements for approval timelines, and partners are left wondering “what happened to my deal?” Partners live and breathe off deal margin, they want to close deals and get paid. If you are using a system that has features like EZUpdate, this makes things super easy for your partners. Return the favor and do your part.
If your pipeline is not being updated, it is impossible for anyone, including your partner to really have a solid understanding of whether their time is worth it to align themselves with you as a vendor. You are shooting yourself in the foot, and contributing to the lack of motivation your partners feel around engaging with you.
5. Not Paying your Partners
Incentives drive behavior, this is a common, well-known psychological principle that is well established in the B2B world. If you want your partners to engage in the activities, collateral, and revenue-generating activities you want them to, you need to give them something in return. The honor and privilege of partnering with you is not enough. Your partners have choices in the market, don’t give them the opportunity to go find a different vendor to work with. Instead, keep the money flowing back to them at such a high rate of return they are too busy counting it to go find another vendor to represent!
An interactive channel partner engagement plan can help create a long-lasting partner experience and healthy business ecosystem where everyone finds themselves winning. Request a Demo today to learn more about Vartopia’s products and services.