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Managing your channel partners is a significant undertaking. There’s a lot to keep in mind, from providing fresh content to registering new deals and offering SPIFFs. Using channel management software can help you streamline the management of your existing channel and grow exponentially by automating sales and marketing efforts. However, like any other tool, if you don’t implement channel management software correctly and use it strategically, it can hurt your efforts instead of benefiting them.
This article will dive into the key elements you should consider when selecting, implementing, and using your channel management tool.
Choosing the Best Channel Management Tool
Today, there are dozens of options for channel management software with varying price points, features, and support options. The best tool for managing your channel will depend on your existing partners and your goals for growth.
When selecting a tool, there are a few key things to consider:
• How easy is it to use the tool?
• How many partners are in your channel today?
• How much are you hoping to grow your channel in the next year?
• What types of partners do you manage? Consider the industries, geography, alliance strategy, and more.
• Are you planning to add a new partner type?
• How many individuals on your team manage the channel? Consider how many team members will use the platform initially and how you anticipate your team will grow in the coming months.
• What does your existing channel look like? How do you work with partners and stakeholders at other organizations?
• Is your PRM provider’s software pricing tiered in a way that would discourage growth? For example, do they charge per partner or cap the number of participants within your budgeted plan?
• Is the tool well supported?
• How long will it take to get set up and running?
Training and Managing Partners Within the Channel Software
Change is hard for everyone, even if it means you’ll be able to collaborate more effectively. So whether you’re implementing a new channel management software or are onboarding a new partner to your existing portal, it’s essential to provide adequate training and onboarding.
Start by choosing a portal that lets you predetermine who can access what to avoid overwhelming newcomers with too much irrelevant information. The right channel management software will provide the ability to administer quizzes when training is complete and track engagement and quiz results to extract valuable information about participants and the material.
Provide a thorough onboarding session designed to help your partner understand the value of using your portal. Don’t focus on the benefit for your team. Instead, highlight how it will make their lives easier. Provide ample training resources in various formats (including both a video walkthrough and written documentation) that your partners can reference at any time. Set up automated, behavior-driven notifications that can guide users from one training to the next and email them when they’re inactive for too long.
When you update content within your platform or introduce new incentives, automate your channel software to email partners reminding them to log in and take a look at your updates. Be consistent with usage to minimize confusion and reinforce processes.
Maintaining Your Channel Management Tool
One of the most critical factors for keeping your partners engaged and using your chosen software is actively maintaining it. If your partners feel the portal is stagnant, they’ll log in less and less frequently until they stop using it altogether.
Keep the content in your portal revolving and update your dashboard often. Share new resources, highlight referral bonuses, and update co-branding opportunities. Keep all deal registrations, MDFs, co-branding, and more within your portal so partners have a true central hub.
Similarly, once you implement your channel management software, your entire team must use it. Keeping all of your items within your portal allows you to accurately track which content leads to registered deals, what training your top partners are completing, and more.
Tracking Partner Pipeline Performance
Just as you would expect from your CRM, your channel management software should give you valuable insights that let you optimize your funnel while presenting insights in user-friendly, easily sharable ways. It should be easy for your partners to share their prospects and demonstrate where they’re at in the pipeline.
Reports should make it simple for both you and your partners to identify at a glance where you need to spend more effort prospecting and nurturing. Further, automated triggers should deploy lead nurturing tactics at each pipeline stage, depending on prospect activity and lead stage.
Channel Management Tool Integrations with Your Existing Software Stack
By integrating your partner portal with your existing software stack, you can ensure consistency and data accuracy. Thus, your channel management tool should integrate with your CRM to provide a holistic view of your entire pipeline and reduce duplicate data entry.
Integrations with your content management and learning management systems can also reduce extra work for your team and ensure you have a single source of truth for your entire ecosystem. Integrating with your existing software stack will make it easier to influence adoption across your team and your partners’ teams.
Channel Management Software Takeaways
Channel management software is an incredibly powerful tool that can streamline your partner management and optimize channel performance. You need to start by choosing the right channel management tool for your ecosystem, then work to set up sustainable processes for both your team and your partners. Be sure to provide thorough training to your partners and support them with resources as well as consistency.
Use your channel management tool to track pipeline performance and nurture leads through the sales cycle. Finally, integrate your channel management tool with your existing software stack to increase adoption and data accuracy.
Download the Ultimate PRM Guide for everything you need to know about partner relationship management and growing a partner program with a modern toolset.
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