5 Steps to Successfully Onboarding Partners
October 21, 2020

You’ve signed a new partner. Congratulations! Now what? Most newly partnered companies look at one another, waiting for leads to come flowing in, deals to be registered, and clients to call. Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way. 

After signing a new partner, it’s time to start thinking of ways to set up the most successful partnership. You can achieve this by establishing best practices that generate results sooner and get partners up and running faster. 

Companies with lucrative partnerships create a process and diligently follow through on it. The beginning of the partnership is often the most crucial because it sets the tone for the entire relationship. In this article, we’ll share a checklist of items to help you better align with new partners during onboarding and set you both up for a productive business relationship. 

 

Create a proper welcome

Setting the tone for your partnership is essential. First impressions mean the most right after your partner signs the paperwork. The beginning of any great partnership is susceptible to rose-colored glass, so be extra vigilant of roadblocks that may arise during onboarding. Capitalize on the high level of enthusiasm that occurs during the beginning of the partnership. 

Utilize a channel partner welcome kit to start the partnership off on the right foot. Provide clear directions and intentional messaging throughout the welcome kit. Your welcome kit should consist of an official letter welcoming them and “next steps” that provide clear direction. The goal is for partners to know how to take immediate action once the partnership is official. The sooner they’re up and running, the more momentum you can build. 

 

Kick-off call

As a rule, schedule kick-off calls with partners as soon as possible to ensure accountability. The introduction call is essential because it sets the tone for the relationship. Company buy-in is invaluable so be sure to include VP and executive-level leadership to show your investment in the partnership 

Take this time to introduce them to your PRM and designated resources that help sales efforts. Customized portals and sales collateral will make your partners feel prioritized. Provide proper, updated resources to boost their selling confidence. The quicker your partners get comfortable, the faster they’ll begin to produce.

Partner onboarding can be done virtually. Traditionally, partner onboarding would be a mixture of in-person and virtual meetings. As technology has progressed, meeting through video platforms, like Zoom, has made virtual onboarding seamless. PRM can automate processes such as creating learning tracks, marketing material distribution, and deal registration. 

 

Introduce incentives and programs

Some of the best partnerships offer incentive programs to help motivate specific selling behaviors. These behaviors include lead generation, early access to opportunities, and marketing opportunities. 

  • SPIFFs: A SPIFF is a time-sensitive incentive program geared toward channel partners to boost sales activities. SPIFFs also strengthen relationships between manufacturers and resellers. The main reasons for creating SPIFF programs is to improve performance, push a specific set of products, and engage salespeople. 
  • MDFs: MDFs are marketing dollars that businesses designate to their channel partners. Companies with channel programs know the importance of helping their partners’ marketing efforts. Actively push MDFs toward activities with the highest ROI. 
  • Deal registration: Having a streamlined deal registration process helps build strong relationships with your partners. The deal registration feature of your PRM encourages partners to register deals quickly. Partners are usually already motivated to do this to gain deal registration benefits. A PRM will help automate and encourage your partners to register deals. It also enables you to track the progress of deals registered inside of your tech stack.  Attaching files and tracking action items will help you work collaboratively on deals. Increased visibility into deals will shorten lead time.

 

Provide access to content

Having a technology platform to share and store marketing content should be a priority. You can have the best content in the world, but if it’s not effectively shared and managed, it could turn into a mess. 

To set your partners up to create compelling content, you must first set the tone by creating high-quality materials. This approach allows you to set a standard for how you expect partners to market your product and the desired quality.

Creating high-quality content is leading by example. Keeping consistent marketing aligned throughout the channel is a challenge for most partner relationships. When creating content for your product, be sure to write down rules and guidelines along the way, sharing them with partners via PRM. 

 

Introduce sales opportunities 

The best way to “wow” partners is to provide high-quality leads as soon as possible. Handing off quality leads proves your value as a partner and shows a higher investment level in their success. Generating leads for partners is a way of “putting your money where your mouth is” and starting on the right foot. 

Early lead handoffs allow you to work together on a deal. Your partner will become familiar with your sales cycle, and you’ll be able to spot opportunities for extra support. Collaborating on deals early on is an effective way to get real-time experience versus running through hypothetical training. 

Don’t hesitate to ask partners to match your lead generation efforts. Passing off leads shouldn’t be a one-way street, which is an excellent opportunity to gauge their commitment and efforts. 

 

Bottom Line

A proper welcome is critical to the success of new partnerships. By creating a system for onboarding partners, you create an efficient, scalable way to ensure successful partnerships. A proper welcome includes a kick-off call and introduction kit. Make your partners aware of the exciting incentives and rewards you offer as part of your relationship. Provide immediate access to valuable marketing and training content. Lastly, sweeten the deal by providing what sales teams value most: leads. 

Want to learn more about how to create an efficient and automated partner onboarding process? Request a demo.

Ali Spiric