Here at Vartopia, we have found the topic of partner training to be equal parts frustrating, fascinating, and complicated. Unrealistic behavioral expectations, system complications, one-size fits all training approaches and a general misunderstanding of the role training plays in channel programs are culminating in two things. One, partners are not trained; and two, systems going unused which leads to a poor ROI of investments into training. So out of all the areas where Partner Relationship Management can help, why does the aspect of partner training so often fail?
First things first, we should acknowledge the harsh truth about who logs into the partner portals that vendors deploy to their partners. Here at Vartopia we track user roles, and their related associations to deal registration submissions. What we have found is that more than 95% of the time the users logging into partner portals are either deal desk roles or operational roles. The sales reps, and marketers at the partner organization that vendors want to login to partner portals, are not. This is the first mistake vendors make – not having any idea the type of persona or role logging into a partner portal. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about a few of the other elephants in the room.
One Size Fits All – Fits No One
The remaining 5% of users, depending upon the number of partners and reps across those partners your organization has could be a big number. 1000 sellers in the field representing your brand? That could be 50 reps. Also, something to consider, however hard it may be to admit, is that sometimes partners will download your training content and put it into their portal. For example, resellers like CDW only operate in this fashion. So, if your organization does have an opportunity to put eyeballs on your training, make sure you consider a couple things.
First, your training should not be the same training your internal sellers get. Your internal sellers only represent your brand, your products and should know them like the back of their hands. That is not the case for reseller reps. Your organization absolutely must acknowledge this and tailor the training to be considerate of this fact. Second, if your product is technical and usually has a Sales Engineer or Solutions Architect attached to the deal consider breaking up the training into technical vs sales training.
Build bridges, not walls
The first time a sales rep might ever log in to your portal could very well be the moment they have a deal to register. Chances are when they started working at that reseller of yours, they didn’t login to “look around.” Owning this is important because too many organizations will force sellers into situations where training must be taken before a deal can be registered. We get it, as an organization with a pipeline being driven by partners you and your revenue leadership team want to ensure every Opportunity from partners is fully qualified. However, nothing takes away the excitement of a deal reg like a one-hour training that needs to be completed beforehand.
You cannot have partners registering deals that seem to get rejected for poor fit, or quality often. So, what can you do? Try rewarding your partners with extra incentives to engage in training earlier. As an example, give an extra percentage point or two of margin for every deal reg that is preceded by a training being completed. It is important for your organization to immediately stop creating walls for partners to do business with you, and to start bridging the gap by proactively driving the desired behaviors with financial rewards.
A well thought out, and strategic partner training program can be a game-changer for your organization when executed correctly. The most important thing any vendor can do is to acknowledge the reality of the channel world. Your partners represent hundreds or thousands of different brands, your partners likely tell their reps to not login to partner portals, sales reps at partners are not the ones registering deals (or logging into partner portals in the first place). On these facts, and build your strategy and technology stack accordingly.
Want to know more about how Vartopia can help both strategically and as the only Partner Relationship Management software today that allows vendors to deploy Partner Training in these ways? Request a demo today.