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7 steps to successfully onboard partners

You’ve signed a new partner. Congratulations! Now what? Most newly partnered companies look at one another, waiting for leads to come flowing in, deals to be registered, and clients to call. Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way. Follow this channel onboarding checklist to efficiently instill within partners the knowledge and confidence needed to represent your brand and make a profit.
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Put Time and Energy Into Your Welcome

Partner pages exist on your website as a way to recruit prospective partners and engage customers. Below, we’ll explore some top partner pages along with what makes them stand out.

A Channel Partner Welcome Kit
Much like the template provided by Allbound. Include an official letter warmly receiving onboarding partners, as well as provide clear “next steps” and the information of their main point of contact.

A Kickoff Call
Sure, you may have a great portal and robust content library, but there’s no substitute for human-to-human introductions. This is your opportunity to clarify any sources of confusion and make new partners feel valued on a personal level. Relatedly, it’s important to glean insights that you may not have previously known about the primary participants.

Set Up the Portal Experience Specifically For Your New Partner

Enroll your partner in the PRM software as soon as possible (you may want to do this even before the first meeting). Annotate the various contacts’ professional backgrounds and seniority. Classify companies based on characteristics like their B2B vertical and region. These all automatically control the specific experience your partners will see when visiting your PRM, ultimately providing a curtailed experience.

The next step on your partner onboarding checklist is to walk through your PRM. B2B channel portals like Allbound are designed to be intuitive for users, but that doesn’t mean you should let your partners aimlessly explore. Show them the many cool features at their fingertips so they can make the most of your offering, as well as know where to start their onboarding journey.

It’s also helpful to schedule a follow-up meeting, even if only for fifteen minutes. You can address any hurdles partners may encounter when they independently try out the portal. As a bonus, it motivates newcomers to engage with your PRM within a set amount of time rather than letting it fall to the wayside.

Deliver Thoughtfully Organized Training and Content

Too many vendors dump large folders of content onto onboarding partners without a well-defined process for them to follow. Templates and learnings are vaguely labeled and, more importantly, not everything is immediately relevant.

Create multi-layer training tracks that build on one another so partners know how to proceed. Limit their access to materials and automate the introduction of new content as their knowledge grows.

  • Product demos (ideally videos or in live time)
  • Battlecards that compares your product’s to competitors
  • Cheat sheets to integrations
  • Partner and product case studies
  • B2B audience personas
  • Channel partner newsletters

Track New Partner Engagement to Take Appropriate Action

Just because you diligently set up partners for success doesn’t mean they will rise to the occasion every time. An important part of any channel onboarding process is to track newcomers’ engagement.

Are certain partners not attempting the training courses? They may not be worth the effort to nurture. Are they engaging the materials but failing the related quizzes? They demonstrate willingness but may benefit from extra attention.

Specific insights into where onboarding partners are succeeding and struggling makes your regular check-ins more productive, as you’ll know which questions you need to ask.

On a broader scale, monitoring partner engagement KPIs helps you accurately predict your partner activation rate. Data trends also illuminate which elements of your onboarding strategy are the strongest and which are the weakest.

Consider Rewarding Onboarding Milestones

Just because a partner enrolls in your program doesn’t mean they are 100% committed. Your onboarding requirements are no doubt one of many items they must check off their list.

If you ask partners to participate in a particularly long training process or your activation rate is low, consider providing extra rewards to celebrate achievements, such as:

Completing the onboarding workflow within a specific number of days.

Earning a certain score or higher on quizzes.

Completion of all the trainings.

Rewards don’t have to be extravagant, especially if they will be doled out to most onboarding partners. Ideas include gift cards, invitations to events, or merchandise.

Introduce Sales Opportunities

The best way to “wow” partners is to provide high-quality leads as soon as new partners are ready.

Handing off quality leads proves your value as a partner and shows a higher investment level in their success. This also lets you work together on a deal so they can practice selling techniques with your hands-on guidance.

Regularly Communicate with Partners

With most checklists, the goal is to “finish.” But this last step must be repeated time and time again, whether the partner is onboarding or seasoned.

Your PRM should handle much of the program interactions that you would otherwise need to do manually. This frees you up to focus on topics with substance, such as:

  • The progress of their sales pipeline and perspectives on strategies.
  • Brainstorming of marketing marketing and promotional efforts.
  • Overall satisfaction and any issues.

This conversation doesn’t only help partners, but you as well. The garnered wisdom can assign qualitative context to data, as well as flag opportunities for improvement and expansion. Don’t have the infrastructure to handle communicating with a rapidly swelling number of partners? In some cases, a trusted distributor can handle relationships on your behalf.

Read our article Channel Partners Vs. Distributors – How the Two Relate to help determine if this channel structure makes sense for your business.

Bonus Step – Improve, Improve, Improve

The described onboarding workflow should act as the skeleton for your checklist; it’s up to you to flesh out the specifics based on your products and competitive space.

Combine metric performance with partner insights to consistently seek ways to improve your onboarding process with updated materials or timelines. If you collaborate with Allbound, our Customer Success Managers can help assess data to distill new strategies.

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