Channel partnerships offer many benefits, including reduced company sales overhead and costs, more qualified leads, and stronger customer relationships. But with a shift from hardware sales to more subscription-based revenue, channel partners need to diversify their portfolios and look for new products and services to offer customers.
Nothing helps channel relationships more than a partner onboarding strategy and a lifecycle roadmap. Vendors need to provide an overview of what channel partners should expect regarding compensations and bonuses, training, and sales and marketing support.
Channel partners can take up to a year to become productive. Therefore, seamless onboarding is essential to partner success. One strategy that can save a lot of time and headaches is a channel partner welcome kit. This may include a welcome letter, instructions on getting started, and links to processes and libraries of helpful content, such as product demos, partner case studies, battlecards, and audience personas.
Vendors should always clarify such things as how to host a kick-off call, build a partner business plan, and establish sales goals and benchmarks. They also need to provide easy access to sales and marketing resources and set forth onboarding milestones. Everything should be designed to ensure channel partners are successful from day one.
New Partner Training Programs
The primary purpose of any channel partnership is to leverage a third party to increase sales of a new vendor’s products or services to new audiences and geographic areas. However, channel partners are not “in-house” employees, so they can easily feel disconnected and out of touch with the vendor’s business strategy and sales gameplan. As a partner looking for a vendor solution, check to see if they offer a systematic, in-depth sales training program. A comprehensive training demonstrates to the outside world that the vendor is highly committed to their brand’s success and is invested in preparing others for success in winning their market. This not only offers a tremendous morale boost to any onboarding channel partners but just makes good business sense.
Solid partner training and support is a win-win for everyone—for the vendor because it boosts sales revenue and for partners because it provides powerful development opportunities. This can be especially critical during tough economic times.
Sales and Marketing Support
Channel partner success goes beyond just onboarding and training. You must be equipped with the right sales and marketing resources, tools, and support to guarantee long-term success. For example, the vendor should offer to invest in marketing workshops like digital marketing, SEO, search engine marketing, or how to transform your website into a lead-generation tool. Considering how the vendor delivers the right combination of sales, marketing, and support materials will be the difference between a successful engagement and a failure.
Channel Partner Program Incentives
When looking for the right channel partner program, vendors must provide a clear roadmap on the rewards, perks, and benefits of hitting specific performance benchmarks. Research has shown that incentives can boost partner sales and profits by as much as 40%. These may include rebates rewarded based on the volume of product sold, gift cards or single-use debit cards, training incentives that enable you to attend tradeshows and conferences, or loyalty programs. Remember, channel partnerships are ultimately about your own success too. Used creatively, a channel incentive program should boost partner morale and encourage you to build and grow your own business and encourage B2B loyalty.
Digital Transformation Roadmap
A vendor may have the best resources, training, and incentives in the world. Still, ultimately, you must be entirely sold on the longevity and value of the brand. Ask yourself:
- Does this potential partner offer a clear and compelling digital transformation roadmap?
- Do they embrace an overall vision around people, process, and technology?
- What assurance does the vendor inspire that you’ll turn a profit with their company?
Selecting the right partnership depends on many factors since there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. That’s why checking the boxes on these five attributes—onboarding, training, support, incentives, and a roadmap—is an investment in the kind of positive experience you can expect downstream.
At the end of the day, the key to finding a successful channel partnership is to link arms with those that inspire your confidence. The bottom line is that you must be completely sold on the vendor’s product and service. Look for a clear path to ROI. And above all, be sure the channel company is invested in your success as much as their own.