You’ve started a channel partner program. Here’s the secret to getting it right.
January 29, 2020
You’ve started a channel partner program. Here’s the secret to getting it right.

Starting a channel partner program is an exciting time for you and means your company sees the value in indirect sales. Forrester has stated that 75% of world trade flows indirectly, so now is the time to place deep value into your partner program. It’s a big responsibility – and an investment of time and resources – to attract the right kind of channel partners and provide each with the training and support they need to be effective. It will be a huge undertaking, but a very rewarding journey.

Good news: we created a strategy to help you build a successful partner program. The strategy is simple: implement consistency within your partner program.

Consistency is key to channel partner success. By creating processes that ensure each partner has the aptitudes, skills, and resources they need to succeed, you are creating order out of what could be chaos. Here’s how to use consistency to develop successful processes, in five easy ways.

1. Be consistent in partner choice

You can’t recruit partners with mismatched skills and questionable commitment and expect to win the game. A great way to produce consistent results, right from the start, is to seek out partners that have the time, resources and willingness to learn and grow with you. They’re going to be good team players that will buy into the consistent development program you’ve set up.

Don’t make a habit of jamming square pegs into round holes. Consistently recruit channel partners that are a natural fit for your company: their geography, customer base or another aptitude that just makes sense. 

Tip: Ask prospective partners why they want to partner with you.

2. Be consistent with your expectations

What do you want from your channel partners? That’s an important question you should reflect upon before you even begin recruitment. It’s crucial that you come up with some concrete expectations and goals you can easily relay to new partners. By nature, perimeters are reliable ways to guide behavior and drive ambition. Set out those expectations with each partner during signing and onboarding. Having this framework in place means everyone can work toward mutual goals. It also hones fairness and transparency, two essentials in building trust, and thus relationships, with partners.

3. Be consistent in onboarding

The best way to ensure all channel partners are starting out equipped with the required knowledge and skills is by offering a uniform onboarding experience. That means ensuring that each partner completes a program that covers the essentials they need to know to start out on the right foot. The best onboarding programs are easily accessible, engaging, and most importantly, trackable. 

A great way to set up a consistent and effective onboarding program is a partner relationship management (PRM) solution. A dedicated partner portal provides easily accessible onboarding materials for all partners. It creates an automated, homogeneous process that includes data tracking so you can see where all your partners are, in terms of engagement and completion. 

4. Be consistent in providing resources and support

Before kicking off your channel partner program, make sure you have the resources and training in place to help them find ongoing success. That means having current and effective collateral and marketing materials, as well as clear instructions on how to use them. Offer advanced training opportunities that deepen partners’ understanding of your product or solution, and enable them to perfect their knowledge of selling in today’s market. Consistent and equal offering of this support is key. A PRM solution also shines in this regard: it will be a home base for all your support and resources while providing you insight into who is using each piece.

A PRM will allow you to see what content is being utilized the most, as well as which content your top-performing partners are utilizing. This will give you insight into which content leads to deal registrations.

5. Be consistently committed to improvement

Remember that consistency doesn’t mean that you can’t update or optimize your partner program. Commit to keeping current and effective in an ever-evolving market. You should also be constantly testing and tweaking your processes to ensure they are still setting up your channel partners for success. 

Putting effort into creating and maintaining strong and steady processes is worth it: it creates a clear and fair system that will help everyone involved in your partner channel program consistently find success.