You have signed a new partner!
Now is it time to sit back and expect the revenue to start coming in?
Not at all! Signing up a partner is just the beginning. Partners can become one of your organizations’ most significant drivers in new business, and churn reduction. They should be treated with white gloves!
But what makes them stay with you, over the competitors in the market?
Even before signing a new partner, you need to have a well-defined plan to keep the process smooth for new partners. Partners often have other opportunities to work with other vendors in the market, don’t make the mistake of missing the mark when it comes to onboarding them quickly, and effectively.
“Onboarding a new partner is the first experience that a partner has with your organization, so it is the most important step”
Onboarding will be the first interaction with your partners, and a well-designed onboarding process can gain your partner’s confidence from day one. On the other hand, a poorly designed onboarding process can not only ruin the relationship with that partner but potentially ruin other partnership opportunities in the future.
What is the onboarding process is all about?
The onboarding process starts as soon as the partner signs up with your organization. The onboarding process aims to educate your partners, making them familiar with your brand and partner program policies. Instead of jumping right into product information, start with industry knowledge, thought leadership, and other areas that help your partner become a known entity in their world.
First impressions are everything, and that holds true to your onboarding process with your partners. If they struggle to gain access to your partner portal, spend too much time looking for their training or their training is irrelevant to them, chances are they are gone forever.
Map out and visualize the steps of your partner journey, and then get feedback from some friendly partners to know if you are on the right track:
1. A Warm Welcome
Like every employee, a partner is going to add value to your business. A well-thought-out and detailed welcome kit will help remove any doubts they have about doing business with you. Consider a welcome package using a tool like Sendoso, along with a short video walking your partner reps through how to gain access to your partner portal. Top it off with a nice introductory video by your channel leader the first time that partner rep logs into your partner portal.
Taking the time to elevate the partner experience from the first interaction will lay the foundation for future success.
2. Establish expectations upfront, and do your part to uphold them
There is nothing worse than the ambiguity of not knowing when someone is going to get back to you, on a matter that impacts your paycheck. Upfront, make sure that sales reps at your partners know the SLAs that you as the vendor and that partner organization have agreed to. Chances are that the sales reps representing your product have never seen that agreement so put that information in front and center for them to see.
Once partners know what to expect of you, make sure you do everything you can to keep to those commitments. Consider investing in deal registration software that alerts you every time a deal is close to surpassing your approval timelines. Doing so will ensure that as partners go through onboarding, the commitments you make to them in writing are delivered from day one.
At the end of the day, relationships are built on trust and transparency. Onboarding is never really done with, as your organization will likely roll out new products that you want your old partners to sell. So, never stop clearly articulating expectations, and delivering upon them.
3. Train your Partners
Once the basic business plan and expectations are set, it is now time to train your partners. A well-structured training schedule will make your partners feel confident about your products, solutions, and business. Remember, your partners are selling many other products. Your training philosophy as it pertains to partners should reflect that. Do not assume the same training deployed out to your internal employees will work for your partners.
4. Relevant Resources
One of the biggest mistakes we see vendors make is thinking that quantity is more important than quality when it comes to marketing and sales enablement resources organized within your partner portal. The concern is that the vendor does not want to appear “Small” because they don’t have a lot in there. Truth be told, partners would prefer less so they can easily find what they are looking for.
Top shelf partner programs go so far to tailor the content specific to how it is going to be used and consumed by the partners themselves. For example, product data sheets usually deployed by a direct sales rep might be edited to include the ancillary services the partner provides on top of the product itself, making it a no-brainer for the partner to use that content.
5. Leave quota at the door
One of the biggest fallacies in the partner and channel world is the idea that partners are driven by goals established by your organization. Commonly, these would be shown on a partner-facing dashboard with some type of indicator showing progress towards a revenue target. Truth be told, partners HATE this. Not only do sales reps at resellers have their own quota, but the last thing also they want is a quota from a vendor they only do business with a few times a year.
Early in your relationship, as you are thinking about designing your partner onboarding process, focus more on the behaviors you want partners to take, the leading indicators of future success.
Request a demo today to see how our team helps you improve your Partner’s onboarding experience.