When developing a partner program, the goal is to create a diverse partner ecosystem that brings unique value to your organization.
However, as your partner program expands and includes different types of partners, providing each partner type with a tailored partner journey becomes crucial to ensure maximum program effectiveness.
Unfortunately, many partner teams overlook this critical aspect and subject all partners to the same generic partner journey, leading to frustrated partners and underperforming programs.
In this article, we will delve into the importance of segmenting partners, discuss effective segmentation strategies, and highlight the significance of customizing partner journeys based on partner types.
Understanding Partner Segmentation
Before exploring how segmentation should impact a partner’s journey based on their partner type, it’s worth first explaining to you what we mean when we talk about segmenting your partners.
Segmentation is a fancy word for separating your partners into buckets based on a specific attribute; these attributes can be varied but include:
Perhaps the most obvious one, the first way you can segment your partners is by what types of partners they are.
You may have several partner types in a diverse program, including resellers, referrals, and technology partners.
With each partner type there are different focuses, needs and training challenges, and so separating them into buckets and tailoring their partner journey based on what they need (more on that later) is a good approach.
As previously mentioned, tailoring collateral based on partner types and their overall journey is beneficial.
This concept applies equally to partners from different geographies.
When partners originate from diverse locations with varying languages, segmenting them accordingly and providing a distinct partner journey becomes an effective means for maximizing the value derived from the partner program.
If partners struggle to comprehend and utilize the provided collateral, it may hinder their overall experience and limit the program’s impact.
In any partner program, identifying top-performing partners and providing extensive support and enablement is crucial to enhance their productivity and contribution further.
As the saying goes, “20% of your partners generate 80% of your revenues.” This presents another opportunity for effective partner segmentation.
If certain partners within your program show potential as high revenue generators, enrolling them in a specialized “white glove” program may be advantageous.
This exclusive program allows for focused attention and tailored resources to extract the maximum value from these partners.
Tailoring Partner Journeys
Once you understand segmentation and have decided to split your partners up into buckets, you can now decide how best to create a bespoke partner journey that best fits their overall needs.
In order to explain how each part of an overall partner journey might differ based on segmentation, we will run through different components of a partner journey and explain how it might vary based on how you have segmented your partner ecosystem.
In exploring the partner journey, one crucial phase that can significantly vary depending on partner segmentation is the onboarding process.
Onboarding involves the steps taken to welcome new partners into your program and equip them with the necessary knowledge and tools to promote your product in the market effectively.
When examining this aspect of the partner journey, it becomes apparent that onboarding experiences differ based on the segmentation of partners according to their partner types.
Let’s consider the example of a system integrator whose primary focus is integrating your solution into other systems. Their onboarding process will emphasize understanding your solution’s technical intricacies to enable seamless system integration.
In contrast, the onboarding process for a referral partner, whose primary concern is promoting your product, will prioritize providing surface-level information about your product and positioning it against competing solutions. They must grasp the key selling points and effectively communicate them to potential customers.
By recognizing the varying requirements and priorities of different partner types, the onboarding process can be tailored accordingly to ensure partners receive the specific knowledge and resources they need to succeed in their respective roles.
Onboarding marks the initial stage of the partner journey, while enablement remains an ongoing process throughout the partnership.
Enablement entails providing continuous support and resources to partners, such as additional marketing collateral and product updates.
The customization of enablement based on partner types becomes apparent when comparing referral partners, who often require a focus on sales collateral like brochures, presentations, and case studies, with resellers who may benefit from dedicated channel managers offering personalized sales support.
These distinctions highlight the need to adapt enablement strategies to cater to different partner types’ specific needs and preferences throughout their partnership tenure.
Tailoring the partner journey to cater to different partner segments is crucial, and one area where it is particularly evident is in the commercial agreements with partners.
When considering partner type as the primary criterion for segmenting partners, each partner type will likely have a unique commercial agreement based on their specific go-to-market approach.
Let’s revisit the example of resellers who purchase your product wholesale, add their margin, and then resell it to end customers. Their revenue model revolves around the markup they apply to the product’s price.
This revenue model differs significantly from that of technology partners. Technology partners may not be primarily interested in receiving a commission from you; instead, they focus on promoting their product and generating new sales. Their revenue is typically derived from the sale of their technology or solution rather than a commission-based structure.
When considering how to tailor the partner journey based on segmentation, the contracting process emerges as a straightforward step. It involves developing specific commercial agreements that align with each partner type’s revenue models and priorities.
These agreements can outline pricing structures, commission rates, discount levels, volume-based incentives, or any other mutually agreed-upon terms that reflect the unique characteristics and goals of the partner type.
By customizing the contracting process to suit the needs of different partner segments, companies can establish clear expectations, foster mutually beneficial partnerships, and facilitate successful and profitable collaboration with each partner type.
The final part of the partner journey that we will explore and detail how segmentation can be used to tailor is co-marketing.
Let’s explore how co-marketing differs based on partner type, starting with Value Added Resellers (VARs).
VARs differentiate themselves from simple product resellers by providing additional value through services, customization, or integration.
Co-marketing strategies for VARs aim to showcase their unique value proposition through targeted campaigns.
They often collaborate with vendors to develop marketing materials tailored to specific solutions, conduct joint webinars or workshops, and actively participate in lead generation activities.
On the other hand, System Integrators (SIs) specialize in designing, implementing, and integrating complex solutions using diverse technologies.
Their co-marketing strategies revolve around offering comprehensive solutions to customers. SIs frequently collaborate with technology vendors to create compelling case studies, whitepapers, or joint thought leadership content highlighting successful implementations and demonstrating their expertise in solving intricate business challenges.
Benefits of a Tailored Partner Journey
In the previous sections, we discussed how segmenting partners based on their type could impact their overall journey within your partner program. Now, let’s explore the overarching benefits that organizations can expect when they effectively implement partner segmentation and provide tailored journeys for each partner type.
Enhanced Partner Satisfaction
By comprehending the distinct needs, preferences, and challenges of diverse partner types, organizations can provide a tailored partner journey that precisely caters to each group. This personalized approach results in heightened partner satisfaction as they feel valued and supported in a manner that aligns precisely with their specific requirements.
In contrast to a generic partner program that leaves partners searching for relevant information, tailoring the partner journey ensures that the information is thoughtfully curated, thereby enhancing the overall partner experience.
The curated partner journey saves partners valuable time and effort by presenting them with the exact information, tools, and resources they need to thrive within the program.
Partners no longer have to sift through irrelevant resources but are provided with carefully selected materials directly applicable to their business objectives and circumstances.
The curated partner journey saves partners valuable time and effort by presenting them with the exact information, tools, and resources they need to thrive within the program. This customized approach fosters a stronger sense of partnership, trust, and mutual understanding between the organization and its partners.
Improved Partner Engagement
One of the key advantages of tailoring the partner journey to specific segments is an increase in partner engagement. In a generic partner program where all emails, collateral, and marketing resources are created for a broad audience, partners are less likely to engage with the majority of these materials.
However, by customizing these resources to align with the unique needs and preferences of each partner segment, they become more relevant and applicable. As a result, partners are more likely to actively engage with the resources provided, leading to increased overall engagement in the partner program.
When partners receive personalized emails, targeted collateral, and specific marketing resources that directly address their challenges and opportunities, they are more inclined to take advantage of these materials. The tailored approach demonstrates a deeper understanding of their needs, fostering a stronger connection and motivating partners to actively participate in the program.
Accelerated Time to Value
A significant advantage of a partner journey tailored to a specific partner segment is the potential for partners to achieve a quicker time to revenue.
By providing partners with targeted support, training, and resources right from the start, they can swiftly familiarize themselves with your solution, enabling them to efficiently engage with your customers.
This accelerated onboarding process allows partners to hit the ground running, reducing the time it takes for them to start generating revenue.
In the absence of a tailored program, partners may face the challenge of manually navigating through a generic program, searching for the resources that are most relevant to their business.
This can be time-consuming and inefficient, resulting in delays in their activation and revenue generation.
In conclusion, successful partner programs encompass various partner types that can be categorized based on factors like type, geography, and potential.
It is essential to provide each partner type with a tailored experience within the program to ensure their success. Neglecting to do so can lead to partner frustration with a generic program and hinder their activation process.
Throughout this blog post, we explored different ways in which the partner journey should be customized based on segmentation, particularly focusing on partner types and their unique needs and preferences.
By understanding and addressing what matters most to each partner type, organizations can create differentiated and effective partner journeys.
One solution that simplifies the process of tailoring partner journeys is Allbound. The Allbound PRM offers Partner Journey Automation, which enables easy customization of partner journeys.
Through this feature, organizations can create rule-based notifications that trigger personalized emails based on specific partner actions, such as registering their first deal or completing a learning track. This level of customization can be applied to all partner types, resulting in fully tailored and engaging partner journeys.
To discover how Allbound can help you create a bespoke partner journey for all your partners, we encourage you to book a demo and explore the capabilities of their PRM platform. For more partner-related content, visit our blog or tune into the Partner Channel Podcast for further insights and discussions.
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