Which Comes First: Starting a Channel Program or Buying Partner Management Software?

Posted on September 26, 2017

By Scott Salkin

Tags: 

partner software

New to the world of channel sales? First off, welcome—and know that you’ve made a wise choice. As the world of sales continues its rapid evolution, you know it’s important to grow just as quickly. With this in mind, you’ve probably already started thinking about your next steps.

So, is it best to start by building a channel program out right away? Or, should you start with software and build the program after that? It’s important to know that no two channel programs are the same. Though the right software can help facilitate a successful channel program, the wrong tools can make the process more troublesome.

 

To help illustrate, we’ll outline common challenges you may come across if you start a program without the right partner software. Next, we’ll review the best ways to match the best tools with your program. In doing so, we hope to show you why the right tools create the best programs.

  1. The right tools can remove unnecessary burdens for IT and Salesforce administrators.

Most partner management tools claim to integrate with Salesforce. But some don’t. Sometimes, tools simply aren’t designed around Salesforce—and flawed integration is tacked on to make up for these shortcomings.

If this is the case, your IT team may be required to execute expensive custom development for these so-called “tools” to sync with your CRM. And in these situations, your Salesforce team may be slowed down because of poor integration.

  1. The right tools can cut clutter in your existing CRM.

Ideally, partner management tools make channel programs quicker and more productive. But sometimes, these tools just add extra custom fields, inadequate dashboards, and poor reporting capabilities to the equation. Make sure that the software you choose can be tailored to the way you currently operate. You don’t want software that requires you to add a whole new team to keep up with all the changes.

  1. The right tools won’t disrupt your team’s current workflow.

The best partner management tools boost your partner reps’ workflow overall. That still requires a change in behavior in the short term. Keep in mind that changes should be overwhelmingly positive and match the current workflow of your best reps. If your channel reps are armed with a clunky tool with a poor onboarding process, it can negatively impact your tried-and-true workflow.

So, how do you determine whether software is right for you?

Getting the most from your new program requires the right tools. Here’s what your software should provide, at the very least.

  1. Functional User Experience

The most powerful tool in the world is moot if the UX (user experience) is clunky and unrefined. It’s easier get a program off the ground with sales tools that are easy to use—and nice to look at.

  1. Content Interaction

It’s not enough to just produce content. Your program needs interactive content that enables your partners to take a deeper and more personalized look into your product. Having a comprehensive overview of your brand and product offerings can be great, but at times it’s more information than can (or should) be absorbed in one sitting.

  1. Sales Training and Tracking

Part of implementing a successful partner program is being able to track and train your partners. Your tools should promote ongoing training through quizzes or certifications. They should also keep track of the performance for partners so you know who needs more training.

  1. Channel Integration and Security

Partner sales tools should allow you to share certain information within specific segments of your channel—from playbooks all the way down to training documents. You should also be able to keep other data private, such as specific CRM information.

  1. Reporting Capabilities

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. The tools you select should have the ability to access third-party information and data from your new channel program to create a powerful, comprehensive database from which to pull your reports. Specifically, you want to look for a partner portal, or partner sales tools that will generate data around consumption and usage.

How do you avoid a poor product—and ensure your partner program starts off on the right foot? By trying before buying. Request an Allbound demo today to see how you can make the most of your channel program.

Scott Salkin

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