We hear it all too often, “our partner program isn’t working ”
Unfortunately, simply having a partner program doesn’t mean your partner program is going to be successful. A “build it, and they will come” mentality doesn’t cut it when it comes to B2B partner programs.
The truth is a successful partner program requires rigorous effort, resources, patience, and financial investment in order to become successful.
Have you ever wondered why partners choose to do business with your competitors, but not you?
Nothing is ever perfect the first time around. Markets, competitive influences, economics… these external factors are in large part outside of your control as they are always changing regardless of your desire to influence them.
We always advocate a “crawl, walk, run” mentality when launching your partner program, focusing on keeping it simple and then capturing feedback from the market. The trick is, make sure the feedback is candid, unbiased, and results in a programmatic change to your program.
Despite all the knowledge you have done ahead of time, there could still be several reasons why you are failing at elevating your partner program:
1. Your program looks like a jigsaw puzzle!
Imagine a potential partner is looking at your partner page on your website, and they say to themselves “This vendor looks cool, their products are awesome. How easy is it for me to make money by doing business with them?”
If they don’t know the answer to that question within 30 seconds of being on your partner page, you are doing it wrong! Partners immediately say to themselves, this looks complicated (which subconsciously leads to trust issues), and therefore they are probably going to be complicated to do business with. Pass!
Often, your partner program needs to be simplified. Enough of the 57 rows, 5 column representations of all the bells and whistles partners get once they navigate through the muddy waters of your tier structure.
Simplification should start at the programmatic level of your partner program, and then be a guiding thesis as the various puzzle pieces are put together. Consider adding KISS as an acronym to your partner’s motto.
2. You are investing your money all wrong
While every organization has limited resources to spend. Now, when you spend even those limited resources inappropriately then how can you expect to elevate your program?
No organization has unlimited funds, especially companies that are struggling to get traction with their partner program. So, the limited dollars you do have, make sure they are being spent correctly.
Instead of investing in more marketing collateral, more technical training, more this and that. Consider paying your partners more for bringing you into deals. It really can (and should) be that simple. Money drives behavior, especially for a sales rep at a Reseller of yours. Providing them an extra ebook on how your solution is better than the next vendor is not nearly as impactful as paying them an extra SPIFF for closing a deal you weren’t involved in initially.
3. You are not Personalizing
When organizations typically deploy PRM solutions, they typically neglect to think about how they are going to drive partners into the Portal to engage with the content they are developing. Getting partners to pay attention to your information when they are potentially doing business with two thousand other vendors is a struggle. So, ask yourself, how are you breaking through the noise?
Consider using your marketing automation solution, integrated into your CRM to personalize your messages to partners. Leverage fields on your partner account record such as type, tier, location, or even user roles on contacts such as sales, marketing, or ops to personalize messages for your partners. Drive them to content in the portal, which is grouped by type, tier, and user roles.
A spray and pray mentality are far too often used when messaging to partners, and unfortunately it lands in the junk box. By leveraging your PRM, CRM, and Marketing Automation together you can create unique experiences for partners that will keep them coming back for more.
Finally, consider doing some research to find out how partners want to be communicated with. Maybe start a Slack Group or invest in a community platform where partners can share best practices and use cases. When you think of partner communication, don’t just stop at the vendor to partner, and partner to vendor.
How else can you create an environment or community where partners can engage with each other?
4. You think a Partner Agreement is enough
Let’s just put this out there … while the relationship between the vendor and partner is what is established on paper, the real relationships are the ones between sales reps. Unfortunately, just because legally the two organizations are partnered, doesn’t mean that the folks doing the deals have any interest in partnering together especially if you are making it hard for them to do so.
No matter how well your partner program is designed and marketed but having a healthy relationship with partners holds utmost importance. Bosses living with the motto of “my way or the highway” end up spoiling relationships with some of the most important partners.
Regardless of how well the programmatic details, SPIFFS, and marketing collateral are designed, ultimately it is the decision of the sales rep at your reseller on whether they are going to represent your product. It is time for vendors to acknowledge that fact. Furthermore, if your sales team is not incentivized to work with those reps, it is all going to fall apart.
Organizations who recognize that just because two companies, vendor and partner, have partnered doesn’t necessarily equate to success are the ones who are having success. They are open to recognizing that B2B partnering is still very much H2H, and that at the end of the day if the two people who are supposed to be working together, choose not to.
That partnership is destined to fail.
Be honest with yourself
Whenever you feel your partner is demotivated or has a high churn rate, it indicates you to become a leader and not a boss! Listening to your partners about their needs and ideas can make them feel confident, loyal, and have a sense of being heard!
Chances are, you are not tracking your partner churn rate because it is easy to not measure. Just because a partner is inactive, and hasn’t registered a deal in a year, doesn’t necessarily mean they are no longer interested in partnering right? WRONG!
The vanity metric of the total number of partners really should no longer be a thing, instead focus on active partners who are doing the behaviors you want them to take.
If you already have a partner program in place and need to elevate your program, we are here to help you. Request a demo today to explore Vartopia’s Program.