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Onboarding Done Right To Create An Engaged Partner Community

You’ve got a new partner to join your channel sales program – great! But recruitment is only the first step in an ongoing relationship that needs nurturing. Onboarding is where the magic happens. 

When done right, onboarding is much more than just an orientation process. And it goes far deeper than simply setting up introductions and explaining workflows. The different stages of onboarding are the building blocks for fostering an empowering, engaging community that attracts and retains top partners. 

Ultimately, a thoughtful onboarding experience sets partners up for success – theirs and yours. 

So, make sure you’re giving them the support and knowledge they need to represent your organization, sell your products and stick around.

A Warm Welcome is Always a Winner

You’re excited they’ve joined your program and they are, too. Now is the time to celebrate the budding relationship and start off on the right foot. After all, great partnerships start first and foremost as great relationships. 

Scheduling a kick-off call is a must. Much like the first day of school or at a new job, it can be overwhelming to come into a new environment and try to figure out how it all works. Don’t let new partners get lost in the shuffle – these first days can make or break the experience. 

A welcome kit, whether physical or digital, can be a thoughtful extra touch. It could include a personalized note, some company swag, or information on how to get started.  

This initial welcome is a great time to reinforce that they’ve made the right decision to partner with your organization.

Understand Your Partner’s Goals & Motivations

As anyone in a thriving relationship can attest to, good partnerships involve give and take. 

Yes, you want to make sure your new partner fully understands your organization and your products to be able to sell (or refer) successfully. But there’s a reason they chose to join your channel sales program specifically, over any of the many other options out there. So, get to know them and why they chose you!

Having a good grasp of their goals and what they are hoping to achieve through your work together will help you support them along that path. Learn about their organization’s initiatives, the projects they’ve got going on, and what makes them tick. This will go a long way in helping you create relevant, valuable content they will engage with. Best of all, it creates an authentic partner-centric experience. 

How do you do this? By ensuring open communication lines. There is no substitution for human-to-human interaction, so make time to get to know your partners on a personal level and make opportunities to connect.

Provide Partners With Accessible Tools and Training

The amount of information thrown at a new partner joining a new channel sales program can seem overwhelming.  

Avoid bombarding partners with too much information all at once. Instead, empower your sales partners with easy-to-follow training modules and learning tracks.

With a PRM tool, you can automate training so partners can complete the modules independently within the platform on their own time. Organize the curriculum into sequential lessons that include content in different formats: checklists, videos, and quizzes, as just a few examples.

Having an orderly process to follow is so much easier than an endless list of vague to-dos. 

Likewise, an organized resource library where content is introduced at the right moments helps ensure better engagement and retention of the information. 

Include a range of material in the content library that will be useful throughout the partner’s journey with you, from product demos and case studies to cheat sheets to playbooks.

Rewarding and Motivating Partners From The Get-Go

As you onboard more and more partners, you end up building a channel sales ecosystem of your own – a community. 

This gives you a great opportunity to be a thought leader in your space and really provide value to your partners. It’s not enough to just talk about your organization, your products, or your services. A big part of what a partner program brings is relationships, not just transactions. 

Lean into those authentic connections and bring a vision to your community about where you are heading together. This could be through one-on-one connections, but it can also be through community-wide interactions like webinars or other events. 

This will not only help create an engaged partner community, but it’ll make your program stand out as one of the best in the business. And, in turn, that helps you recruit and retain top-notch partners. 

Create Opportunities To Win Together

You want to make sure your new partner has a strong base that sets them up for success – which can take time –  but don’t wait too long to start working together. This is where automation really helps keep the onboarding process as quick and as smooth as possible, by avoiding the hold-ups that can occur when tasks are done manually. 

Once a partner is ready, create opportunities to work together and win together. Providing high-quality leads is an important part of demonstrating trust and investment in your partnership. Find ways to collaborate on content that can be co-branded and join forces to co-market. 

The transition from onboarding to onboarded is an important time to note which partners are the most engaged and show the most potential. Prioritize those partners that are the most eager and prepared to work together, they can be worth their weight in gold.

Building An Engaged Partner Community

Onboarding is one part of building an engaged partner community, but there are several other important components from planning your program to goal-setting to measuring the most important metrics. 

In our new guide to building a partner program from scratch, we explore the best ways to improve partner engagement and increase channel sales from start to finish. 

How to build a partner engagement program