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Great leaders listen. They understand the importance of keeping their ears – and a line of communication – open when it comes to their teams. With channel partners, modern tools like PRM platforms make it simple to continuously monitor KPIs. But there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned survey to net honest and straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth opinions from partners. That’s why they’re still an invaluable tool for measuring partner satisfaction, one you should be using consistently and effectively.
Surveys 101: where to start
How do you best administer a survey? Keep the KISS principle in mind. That stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. You’re going to get the best results from a survey when the questions are simple and easy to understand.
A busy partner is going to be discouraged by surveys too frequent, complicated or lengthy. Be respectful of their time and keep surveys to-the-point and easy to answer. There’s a reason why clickable 1-5 scale or agree/disagree-type answers are so popular: they’re simple and quick. Use them, when appropriate. Fillable text answer fields are necessary for some questions, but be strategic with their use because they’re time-consuming. Another absolute must: make survey responses anonymous. You’re much more likely to get honest – and thus, insightful – responses.
The million dollar question(s)
When you’re formulating survey questions, ask about but don’t limit yourself to the obvious – the bottom line. A satisfaction survey should also shed light on whether you’re succeeding in building strong, cooperative and open relationships with your partners, and if you’re providing them the tools they need to find success. Daunted? Don’t be. We’ve got you covered with some subjects to consider touching on, and possible questions to ask for each.
1. Profitability. How profitable are we to work for?
2. Quality of product/service. Do you believe in the quality of our product/service? Are you proud to sell our product/service?
3. Measuring churn. Are you, or have you ever thought about, selling for our competitors? How likely are you to be still selling our product/service a year from now?
4. Customer feedback. How often do you receive customer feedback? Is customer feedback usually positive or negative? What feedback have you received about our product/service from your customers?
5. Resources. Do we offer a sufficient number of partner resources? How easy are resources to find? How easy is it to understand how to use them? What hurdles prevent you from using partner resources?
6. Training and learning. Do we provide all the learning resources you need? How effective is our training format? What’s the biggest hurdle when it comes to completing training and learning tracks?
7. Marketing. How effective are the sales and marketing materials we provide? Do you understand how to use them?
8. Support. When you reach out to us, how helpful is our support team? How easy it is to get in touch? What are the barriers to reaching out? Do you feel listened to when you contact us?
9. Engagement. Do you feel like a valued member of our team? How often are you using our partner portal? Do you feel that you know what’s going on at our company? Do you understand our strategies and goals?
10. Give them the microphone. If you could change one thing about our partner program, what would it be? Do you have any ideas you’d like to pass along to us? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
When the survey’s done, your work has just begun
The wealth of information you’ve collected shouldn’t be shoved in a corner to collect dust. Use it! Are there things that survey results indicate you’re doing right? That’s great – continue with the good work. Are there some rough patches revealed by partner responses? Use the intel to strategize how you’ll go about smoothing them. Want to really be an open book? Share the results with partners, not shying away from not-so-flattering results and asking for input on a correction. Chances are, they’re already aware of areas of shortcoming and may have some useful ideas for improvement. It’s a great opportunity to promote openness and collaboration.
One last thing to consider: don’t look at surveys as islands unto themselves. They’re just a snapshot in time. Comparing a survey’s results to past ones will shed light on trends and help you see if the process paths you’re taking to improve are the right ones. Real leaders listen but they also know that success rests on constant improvement, and surveys are an important tool in that.