Partners are an extension of your sales team, there is no denying that. The path to an engaged partner is not a one-size fits all approach and should only be influenced by your existing employee engagement and educational strategies. Creating a strategy, buying technology like partner portals, and hiring folks is the easy part. The hard part is execution for a prolonged period. Building a channel is not a sprint, it is a marathon. A well-thought-out partner engagement plan clearly articulates the kind of relationships you wish to foster with your partners. It does not have to be complex to be effective, but it does need to be specific with SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timeline associated with them.
Objectives of Engagement Plan
An engagement plan is not an easy thing to articulate, let alone document in such a way that the other parts of your organization will be able to clearly see how their role fits into supporting the channel. Sometimes, it is easier to get buy-in if you align your company around why an engagement plan for your partners is necessary in the first place. Start by setting the stage with the end in mind:
- Increased Revenue: This is a metric the whole company can get behind.
- Filter out your Partners: The 80/20 rule is very pervasive in the channel and understanding where to focus your energy is key to long-term success.
- Feedback Loops: Vendors often make the mistake of assuming they know how partners are responding to their partner engagement strategy. An engagement plan helps to validate these assumptions.
- Market Insights: Partners often have a front-row seat to what is going on in the market, capitalizing on this firsthand knowledge should be a driving force behind any partner engagement strategy that is deployed.
Now, let us dive into the major elements every organization should keep in mind when creating and executing a partner engagement plan.
1. Goal Alignment
The goal of your team is to drive partner engagement
, as a necessary function of driving revenue through channel partners. However, the goal of your resellers is to service their end customer either through your solutions or with a combination of solutions. At a basic level, it is easy to see why the goals of the vendor and the goals of the partner are easily misaligned. Sometimes at scale, it is not always reasonable to expect that every partner has unique goals as part of your partner ecosystem. Sometimes, for partners who are not driving as much revenue, it must be a one-size fits all approach. That being said, in the case of your top-tier partners driving most of your revenue be sure to allocate time each quarter to align on goals unique to your respective companies.
2. Tools to measure partner engagement
A partner engagement plan that does not include a partner portal is like starting a business without a website. Your competitors are all deploying partner portals that not only automate much of the necessary day-to-day partner support activities but also measure partner engagement
. Understanding which partner certifications and enablement courses are being taken, which pieces of content are being consumed and shared, and which partners are diving into your playbooks helps to validate assumptions you have made as it relates to your partner engagement strategy. All of this is not possible without a partner portal in place.
3. Personalize your communication
Your partner engagement plan will absolutely flatline if you do not have a plan in place for effectively communicating actions, behaviors, and outcomes to your partners. Keep in mind that the average VAR works with 50 other vendors and does not wake up thinking about what is new in your partner portal. It is your responsibility to tap into your team’s Marketing Automation solution
and collaborate with your marketing team to personalize messaging to your partners based upon things like the type, tier, geo, and recent engagement metrics.
4. Partner Feedback
Unfortunately, most of what partners receive from vendors today is a unidirectional form of communication. They often find themselves on the receiving end of marketing and sales messaging that gets sent right to the trash folder. Consider deploying tools like WalkMe for, embedded into your partner portal software to prompt feedback or deliver a quarterly PSAT (partner satisfaction survey) via your Marketing Automation tool
. Remember, something is better than nothing here. Start simple, you could even use a Google Form to capture initial partner feedback. Make sure your partners feel like they have a voice.
5. Incentivize your partners
Finally, incentive drives behavior
. Sales reps at your partners are driven solely by cash, and vendors with the most engaged partners have recognized this. Make sure that the budget you have requested to support your partner engagement strategy includes incentive dollars to drive partners to learn about your product, participate in marketing campaigns, and register deals early. This list is not fully exclusive but should help to get your organization started on a path to highly engaged partners. Equip your partners with the knowledge of what you want to accomplish with them, the tools to execute, and the compensation for a job well done. Request a demo
today to learn how Vartopia can help!