Hundreds of thousands of partners of all types drive hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue every year for the vendors they work with. Every single dollar of channel revenue started with a vendor and a partner, deciding to work together, and invest time in their mutual success. That whole process begins by onboarding the partner, and a well thought out onboarding plan lays the foundation for future success.
Yes, partner onboarding can be a tedious process, but the return on that investment when done right will pay dividends for years to come. Partner onboarding is the detailed process of guiding, training, and teaching the right skills to your partners so that they become capable enough to sell your products and services without your involvement.
For organizations who look to leverage their existing tech stack and previous investments, look to integrate a great Learning Management System (LMS) into your partner portal for an even more sophisticated, and streamlined approach to partner onboarding.
Partner onboarding is the first step, but arguably the most important step when embarking on building a successful channel program. It is much like laying a solid foundation for a house to be built on. For long-lasting success, your partners need to feel confident about your business and envision a future where both of you achieve success along the way.
In a lot of ways, partner onboarding is a never-ending process. Even your top-tier partners require re-training, product updates and knowledge of the latest market trends. Additionally, rep turnover at partners can be higher than average, so there is always a new wave of reps that need to be brought up to speed. Onboarding should not ever be considered a one-and-done process; it is a lifecycle of continuous education, performance reviews and maintaining strong ties with partners.
A great onboarding process can help to differentiate you from your competition. Take a look at a couple of our recommendations to help your onboarding process stand out from the competition:
1.Communicating and automating appropriately:
Transparency and automation – two words that should be used as adjectives to describe your partner onboarding process. Automation serves to help both parties scale, while transparency is a continuous validation that trust is always being built.
There is nothing worse than being given training to complete, with an expectation it will take a couple of hours, only for it to take a couple of days. Nothing ruins a relationship faster than poor expectation setting. Make sure that you communicate how long training should take, how often partners should look for updates and what incentives can be earned through successfully completing a training.
Keep things smooth, and simple; enabling partners to follow a prescriptive path on their tight schedules. Communication should be direct and meaningful. Do not bombard partners with product information, or newsletters while they are still trying to understand the core basis for their organization choosing to represent your products.
2.Provide the right tools for partner onboarding success:
People, process, and technology; while it sounds cliché, it is true that this is the order your strategy should go in as it relates to partner onboarding success. The people and process must first be defined before selecting the technology you will use to implement it. This technology is built into your PRM (Partner Relationship Management) tool, it is an Enterprise level LMS solution. Either way, make sure it is the right tool for the job.
With technology, a methodical and prescriptive approach can be easily delivered to partners. Onboarding tools make it easy to evaluate the training material, how reps interact with it, and what impact it is making on your overall partner engagement levels. Leveraging LMS tools allow you to drip feed content to partners, based upon where they are in their onboarding journey to not overwhelm them. Consider introducing quizzes and certifications to gauge your partner’s understanding of the subject matter, and your product.
3. Accurate feedback is the key!
Feedback is not something that should only be available for partners at the end of their onboarding journey. Building checkpoints along the way for partners to provide feedback at each stage is key to getting a full picture of their perspective of the program you are delivering. Some partner portals and LMS systems provide feedback channels, while others do not. Either way, make sure you educate your partners in the right way for them to provide feedback to you.
When you are working through how to collect feedback, consider some of the following ways that make it easy for partners to provide feedback to you. Surveys, one-on-one sessions, questionnaires, emails, and chat tools are all appropriate when trying to piece together how to draw out partner feedback. All these strategies do take time, and require an important level of attention to detail, but giving partners the opportunity to answer open-ended questions will ensure the feedback you get is honest and worthy of action.
At Vartopia, we measure our customer’s onboarding in weeks, not months. Request a demo today and learn how our customers are onboarding their partners today.