Delivering an outstanding customer experience has always been top of mind for businesses. And, increasingly, that mindset of creating an individualized, memorable experience is making its way over to channel partnerships.
What defines an exceptional channel partner experience? A great partner experience (PX) meets and exceeds the expectations of individuals in your channel through every touchpoint.
Treating your partners as well as you treat your customers nourishes lasting relationships with amplified program engagement and profitability.
Create A World-Class Partner Experience
Deliver memorable partner experiences from the initial outreach to onboarding and on through the duration of the relationship with the following action items.
Empower Partners with Personalized Experiences
The best partner experiences cater to specific goals rather than applying blanket strategies across the program’s ecosystem. Just as no two customers are exactly alike, your partners have individualized experiences, motivations, challenges, and expectations of which you should be keenly aware.
Once you understand each channel partner on a deeper level, work to support to each partner type differently. Consider the different types of channel partners as well—each partnership will require custom-tailored interactions and experiences. Although no partners are identical, there are similarities. Utilizing grouping functionalitites within your partner portal to serve personalized marketing materials and playbooks reflective of their chosen language, specific industry, and target audience. Personalization also extends to the partner’s experience with the portal itself, as you may want them to only access content and features that pertain to their specific situation. All such actions empower partners to be your best advocates and builds their confidence in your offerings.
Automate Key Activities Within a Partner Portal
Centalize partner functions within a PRM hub containing onboarding exercises, deals, opportunities, active prospect pages, and sales enablement materials. In turn, partners will have an easier experience finding relevant materials as needed. More importantly, the PRM’s sophisticated automation lets you provide personalized experiences based on predetermined settings.
- Automatically tailoring the portal experience to the individual partner by serving only the assets and features available to their group
- Providing immediate, personalized suggestions for content and next steps based on the user’s previous activities, removing the lag time inherent to email back-and-forths
- Instantly blocking partners from registering duplicative deals, avoiding a common source of channel conflict
In short, PRM automation improves the partner experience by ensuring that there are no delays, confusion, or dead ends. They always have the most applicable content at their fingertips, and nothing more or less. Ensure your portal is well designed with seamless search functionality, so partners can quickly locate what they need.
Offer Support and Training Resources
Understand each partner’s unique goals and challenges to provide the best support possible. Take time to put solutions in place for each partner to set them up for success during their relationship with your organization, including training materials, access to data, and live enablement sessions.
Your channel partners will also need proper training and company collateral so they can accurately and positively promote your offerings. Make resources easily accessible by using your portal to share playbooks, certifications, and interactive features to make training intuitive and engaging.
Offering your partner tools to expand their knowledge will enhance the partnership experience by boosting loyalty. Partners will look to your company as a key resource in equipping them with the content they need to reach more customers and complete their individual goals.
Tailor Partner Communications Based On Their Stage of the Life Cycle
Partner engagement is directly tied to performance, so clearly communicating your goals for the partnership early on will set clear intentions from the jump.
How you speak and interact with your partners will evolve as the partner journey progresses. Developing partner personas and mapping their journey–from recruitment to enablement and retention—will help you focus your messaging to meet and serve them where they are at any point in the partner lifecycle.
Some ideas to boost the quality, two-way communication with partners include:
- Conduct regular meetings between individual partners and channel managers
- Virtual and in-person events
- Regular surveys and questionnaires
- Holding exit interviews
Mutual understanding is foundational to a positive channel partner experience. Not only do individuals feel heard and appreciated, but they always know their standing within the program. What’s more, channel managers can collect vital insights into ways to improve partner experiences, as well as keep their finger on the pulse of the participant’s general happiness levels.
Provide Competitive Compensation
Though money may not be everything, it will be a influential part of the partner’s experience with your program. When first building your program, communicate with trusted prospective partners about what they want and what motivates them.
Compensate partners fairly by setting a commission structure across your entire partnership ecosystem. Offer incentives that are competitive in your industry, as each party involved in the partnership should be set up for long-term success from the jump.
Remember, compensation and commissions aren’t the only incentives you can offer your partners. With a little creativity, you can inspire, motivate and reward actions you want to continue beyond financial compensation.
Some incentive ideas include:
- Sales Performance Incentive Funding (SPIFFs), or sales competitions in which there is extra rewards for exceeding ambitious milestones
- Market development funds (MDFs), money that goes towards their promotion of your products through activities like paid ads, event participation, media buying, etc.
- Advancement to the next tier or partnership level, resulting in partners accessing higher commission percentags and new benefits like digital marketing assistance or virtual events toolkits.
Such bonuses not only motivate participants to achieve, but also makes their hard work feel particularly recognized, leading to a more satisfactory partner experience.
Measure the Partner Experience
Once you deliver exceptional partner experience across all your channel relationships, assess the effectiveness of your initiatives to evaluate and guide future actions.
Regular conversations with channel partners should give an indication of their happiness and elements worth further investigating. Review data and define partner experience metrics to gain deeper insights that contextualize your performance and help pinpoint areas for improvement.
How to Define Partner Experience Metrics and Measure Performance
Using a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) tool provides an overall view of your partner engagement levels and subsequent pipeline. Build channel data dashboards to highlight and compare specific data points related to your partner’s experience, such as:
Total Number of Partners
Establish a baseline by tracking the total number of partners over a set period of time. This gives insights into how your channel network is progressing and how effective your strategies are for attracting and retaining channel partners. Get a more granular look by viewing how many newly enrolled partners you have, as well as active, pending, and inactive partners.
Training Completion and Activation Rates
This performance metric will give you insight into how well your onboarding materials and resources are working. You may be incorrectly setting initial expectations or asking too much upfront. There’s also the possibility that you’re attracting partner types that are misaligned with your goals or are delivering a confusing partner onboarding experience due to poor materials or portal interfaces. Also, consider whether onboarding and activation rates dip more than others for certain partner types.
Revenue Per Partner
Since all partner experience initiatives tie directly to profits and revenue, taking a look at these numbers is essential. Uncover trends by looking at the amount of revenue generated per channel partner over a period of time. If you notice certain partners stall at a stage in your program and aren’t generating revenue, reinvest resources into that partner’s experience to increase engagement.
This metric directly impacts your present and future revenue. It will offer major insight into your partners’ experiences. If participation steadily decreases, consider your compensation structure, what expectations you’re setting, and whether or not you’re correctly personalizing experiences and resources for each channel partner.
Using semi-regular surveys and questionnaires, you can gain insight from each of your channel partners into their overall experience with your company. Tracking partner satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) frequently can help you prevent abandonment by adjusting in specific areas to meet their needs and expectations. Quantifying your partners’ happiness will provide insight into opportunities to improve your PX strategies.
Build a Partner Program that Delivers Outstanding PX
While each partner’s experiences will vary based on their specific traits, needs, and goals, learning the steps toward building a solid partner program will yield the right foundation to exceed expectations among your entire network. Dig into the steps needed in our Ultimate Guide to Partner Relationship Management and new channel partner go-to-market guide.