Partner Activation: Earning Buy-In From Your Channel Partners

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The total number of partners in your channel doesn’t reveal all that much. While this quantitative factor may be a confidence booster, it’s ultimately just that: a number. Instead, the actual determining factor for a successful channel is the number of partners that are actively engaged with your organization.

Knowing what key performance indicators (KPIs) to track—and how they translate across your channel—can help guarantee success. KPIs help turn speculation into quantitative reality. And they help illustrate the difference between an engaged partner and one that is a waste of resources.

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With this in mind, partner activation percentage helps determine when your channel partners are truly engaged and bringing in revenue.

What is partner activation—and how do you measure it?

On the surface, partner activation is relatively straightforward. The metric shows which partners are activated—or in other words, engaged with your organization.

Truth is, it’s tough to discern whether or not partners are truly engaged. It’s entirely possible for it to appear as if partners seem like they’re carrying out intended behaviors such as logging into your partner communication tools on a regular basis. Without hard data, however, it’s impossible to tell whether or not they’re driving results.

As a KPI, partner activation requires organizations to granularly measure behavior. The first step in building mutually engaging partnerships and accelerating channel sales, however, rests in your ability to gain buy-in and earn the trust of your partners.

So, how do you earn the trust of your channel partners?

Initially, it's up to an organization to align the goals and expectations of both its own business and its partners’ business. As a rule of thumb, it’s important to understand the motivation of your partners before forming an alliance. It’s especially important to understand the core of your channel’s business so that you can work to develop mutually beneficial relationships.

Working to build trust—and delivering on your promises—is often the first logical step in doing just this. If you say you're going to do something, you do it. Conversely, if you do something wrong, you must work to correct it right away. It’s that simple.

It’s important to display to your partners that you can help them grow. Outlining value proposition helps create a strong competitive advantage for you and your partners. Not only does this provide you with an opportunity to enhance revenue and margins, but it provides incentives for growth. Value propositions leverage demand-generation tools to close deals. And they demonstrate your commitment to reseller success.

It's also essential to establish rules of engagement. Many organizations fail to align their partners with end-user sales models. Training channel partners to embrace your sales engagement model and keeping them on the same page as your internal team is critical. Providing adequate support and sales acceleration tools to embrace your defined model makes or breaks your channel’s success.

Using the Right Tools

From tracking content to logging deal information, partner activation data provides you with actual insight on behavior, as well as which pieces of content are actually closing deals.

Partner activation percentages provide managers with a comprehensive perspective of performance across their channels. Once they understand which partners are activated, managers can reward those that are successful, incentivize those that need to be more effectively engaged, and identify those that are underperforming.

Up until a few years ago, collecting and analyzing partner activation information was nearly impossible. These days, however, the best partner acceleration tools enable channel teams to leverage this information and use it as a guiding KPI to drive success. You can see which partner is using which piece of content, and learn what type of content and training your partners actually use. Use the right tool to drive partner engagement, improve business intelligence, and turn data into insight.

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