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Partnering can be a challenging journey to navigate. Whether you’re new to partnerships, or a seasoned channel professional, mapping the partner journey at your organization can ensure everyone is on the same page. Not only does it help program participants understand the road ahead, but the defined stages of the journey provide an organizational structure for your partner enablement materials.
Fortunately, you don’t have to map your partner journey from scratch. Below, we’ve outlined the seven key phases to inspire your own.
Why Leverage a Partner Journey Map?
Establishing and sharing your partner journey map helps to set clear expectations internally and externally.
Benefits of an External-facing Partner Journey Map
Externally, a partner journey map sets expectations up-front with partners before you commit to working together. With a map in hand, your partners know what’s expected of them, what they can expect in return, and the timeline for your relationship.
Internal Benefits of Mapping the Partner Journey
Timelines are often an internal struggle for partner teams. Especially for organizations with a brand-new partner program, there’s typically confusion about how long it takes to reach revenue. Share your partner journey map internally to act as a checklist to ensure you’re properly identifying the various stages of the partner journey, appropriately enabling partners at each step, and customizing it where appropriate.
What Does a Partner Journey Look Like?
Your specific partner journey will be different based on the types of partners you work with and the activities you complete with them. However, these milestones can serve as an outline for mapping out your partner journey.
Welcome and Introduction to the PRM
At the earliest stage, you’re focused on getting to know your partner and their goals for the relationship. Share your goals and the purpose of the partnership from your side. Then, introduce your PRM and explain how it improves the partner experience.
Grab our channel partner welcome letter template that you can customize and send out to all new partners.
During the onboarding phase, it’s time to make things official, including signing any partnership agreements. Leverage our free referral partner agreement template to get started quickly.
Onboarding is also a critical stage to get your partner all set up in your PRM and training portal. Be sure to set your partner up with a demo environment or a software instance they can use.
Support your partner by enabling them to complete their training. Training resources may be provided via the PRM and additional training portals.
Ensure training materials are available in various formats, including text-based, on-demand videos, and live training events. Consider adding quizzes to the end of learning tracks to ensure information retention.
Prospecting + Promotion
Now that your partner is trained and enabled, it’s time to begin prospecting and promotion. Support your partners by providing tactical resources through your PRM to improve the prospecting and promotion process.
Leverage co-marketing and joint promotional efforts to go to market together with your partners.
Once the prospects start rolling in, it’s time for deal registration via your PRM. As per your agreement, partners should begin registering deals in your partner portal.
Pro tip: Keep deal registration forms short and sweet. Forms that are too long or detailed can discourage partners from registering a deal at all.
After deals are registered, you and your partner will work together to close them. This may involve account mapping to identify which contacts you and your partner each have and how you can best approach closing the deal.
Advance Through Partner Tiers
As partners succeed with your organization and you close deals together, it’s time to advance through partner tiers. With tiers in place, your partners are rewarded for their efforts with additional resources, tools, and benefits.
At this phase, your partners will continue cycling through the Prospecting + Promotion, Deal Registration, and Winning Deals stages as they advance through your tiers.
Leveraging Your Partner Journey Map Within Program Strategies
Use the seven partner journey phases to bolster your plan. Consider which activities you conduct with partners at which stages and fill in your map accordingly. Download the Partner Journey Map template and customize it based on how you work with partners.
After you’ve established your organization’s partner stages, use them to determine the current state of your program participants, which stage causes the most attrition, and where there is friction moving forward. For example, if only 20% of partners that complete training utilize the co-branding tool for promotional purposes, that’s a red flag.
Help Your Partners Advance Through the Stages
Partner journeys are unique at each organization, but the overarching framework remains the same. Break down your standard partner journey into the seven stages we’ve established and share the map of your journey both internally and externally.
To further refine your partner management and enablement strategies, we suggest reading:
How to Build a Channel Partner Program for 2022 — If you’re in the earliest phase of building a channel partner program, explore this guide from our CEO on how to build a channel partner program. Discover everything you need to know to get started, from identifying your ideal partners all the way to setting up tracking and early goals.
20 Necessary Tools to Enable Channel Partners to Sell — Today, there is a surplus of tooling available to enable channel partners. Consider the twenty necessary tools across content marketing, video conferencing, pipeline forecasting, and more.
Channel Partner Engagement Strategies Guide — It’s essential to keep your channel partners motivated at every step of the journey. Discover advanced channel partner engagement strategies for onboarding, training, and beyond.
Channel Partner Experience (PX): How to Measure and Improve — Your channel partner experience has a significant impact on the results channel partners can drive. Discover how to measure and improve your channel partner experience, including personalized communication, competitive compensation, and more.