Launch steps for partner relationship management best practices in 2024
The past year has likely been a mixed bag of wins and losses, successes and challenges and plenty of learning opportunities and room for growth in your partner program. With Q4 in full swing, organizations are focused both on wrapping up projects and initiatives from the previous year, as well as planning for the year ahead.
This balancing act can lead to a busy couple of months in the partner space, but having the right partner relationship management tools at the ready can make the workload a little easier.
Evaluating Your 2023 Partner Program
Setting goals and initiatives for the year(s) to come starts with analyzing past management practices, repeating and building off of what’s working and learning from less-than-successful projects and relationships, then pivoting as necessary.
Increasing efficiency is something every organization should strive for to improve the company’s bottom line. Greater operational efficiency can help partners maintain their margins and keep customers happy.
What Partners Want From the Relationship
First, take a look at how efficient your partner program has been by balancing hard data with anecdotal evidence from your partners and internal team.
In our eBook, What Your Partners Want From You, you’ll discover what partners want from vendor training and which marketing enablement tools and training partners need for a smooth, efficient partner program.
One of the top things partners look for in their portals and as part of your program overall is automation. This not only gets your partners moving through training and onboarding quickly, it also benefits your organization by improving efficiencies.
Evaluate whether or not your program aligned with what your partners wanted in 2023, and set a clear plan and timeline for ways you can adjust and improve in 2024 based on the research we compiled in the eBook — and your own partner data and conversations.
Following a Marketing Plan
Another component of evaluating your partner program in 2023 is taking a look at the marketing plan you developed early in the year (or at the end of last year) and seeing if the roadmap was followed. If something was changed, were any impacted partners kept in the loop?
A solid marketing plan not only expands your brand’s reach to your partners’ networks, but it’s also an essential piece of your overall partner program. Establishing a solid strategy internally and making it easy for partners to understand and access strengthens the partner bond and makes the relationship operate smoothly.
In our Channel Partner Marketing Plan Checklist, you can access a template with action items relevant to creating a successful channel partner marketing plan. This checklist should be used at the beginning of your partnership but can also serve as a helpful resource when looking back to see if your strategy was followed as planned throughout the year.
A few key pieces you can look at include:
- Measuring the ROI of your existing partner marketing campaigns to inform strategy for 2024
- Determining if roles and goals established at the outset were followed through
- Seeing if a joint value proposition was established
- Reviewing the plan for communivating KPIs and channel metrics to your executive team
At the end of the year, it’s important to look back to ensure company and channel alignment. You may feel your partner program has been successful because partners are completing quizzes, accessing resources and generating leads.
However, you need to reflect on your organization’s overall goals and determine if your team’s wins align with what leadership has hoped to achieve over the last year. Communicate when you spot wins and contributions to revenue, as well as specific examples of working cross-functionally to hit goals and milestones.
Use our Free Executive Channel Update Templateto share crucial progress about your partner program to executives. This is an important step in getting buy-in for program expansion — and potential advancement in your partner manager role. Use our template to most effectively deliver key results and data to leadership.
End-of-Year Planning Best Practices: Overview
Reviewing your efforts over the last year is the first step toward setting a solid foundation for 2024. The next move to make is planning for the rest of the year and into early Q1. There are a lot of competing partner relationship needs happening during these busy months, so staying organized and prioritizing tasks is key.
Condense each end-of-year priority into three categories, such as starting a new channel, scaling an existing channel and adjusting your channel strategy. These initiatives will begin at the end of this year and rev up in early 2024, so it’s best to start as soon as possible.
Priority 1: Starting a New Channel
Identify which companies you wish to target based on any gaps in your existing partner program or opportunities that have come up in Q4. Determine the preferred channel program structure and which type of partnerships you’re going after.
- Reseller / Distributor
- Ecosystem / Marketplace
- Tech-Integrated Partnerships
Map out the benefits of any new desired channels, and include detail about how each partnership would improve the customer experience and your company’s revenue overall.
In our How to Secure Channel Budget webinar, you’ll learn how to create a stellar pitch for securing budget — vital to making your wishes for starting a new channel a reality. Download the template to build a framework based on forecasting and planning for upcoming financial needs.
Priority 2: Scaling an Existing Channel
Perform a channel audit to assess where your program is succeeding and what could be improved in the new year. Build a proposal for scaling your program by outlining which partners are helping you grow revenue, detailing activities that will lead to partner success and which networking opportunities could help bring in valuable new partners.
One way to ensure alignment between you and your partners is through a channel partner scorecard with defined metrics. Evaluate the success of your channels with our Channel Partner Scorecard Template, which helps you assess partnerships after they have onboarded.
This will give you insight into how the partnership has progressed over the year, how well you and your partners are aligned on shared goals and what components are essential for a successful partnership next year and beyond.
Priority 3: Tweaking (or Even Overhauling) Your Channel Strategy
There’s likely no need to start from scratch next year in terms of your entire partner program strategy. A smooth transition into 2024 is ideal, which means continuing your existing channel management practices and improving upon tactics gradually when and where it best serves your partner relationships.
PRM platforms aren’t ‘set‘em and forget ‘em’ tools,: successful partner strategy requires data-informed evaluation coupled with insights from real people.
Reflect on the beginning of 2023 to determine if the outcome of your program over the course of the year aligned with your original hypothesis. Connect with mentors, your network and industry leaders to gather new insights on what makes an attractive partner program.
Analyze and improve your strategy as you dive into the new year with our What’s Working in Partner Relationship Management? eBook, which will aid in your evaluation of the past year’s activities and plans for 2024.
Preparing for What’s Ahead in 2024
It’s impossible to predict the future with 100 percent accuracy, but technology is helping us get a better look into what’s ahead by analyzing trends and gaining insight into what others have in the works.
Having an awareness of what’s being planned and how industry best practices will evolve in 2024 is important as you’re managing partner relationships, setting goals and planning future campaigns and projects.
A few trends related to PRM and technological resources relevant to your partnerships include:
- Cybersecurity as a top priority
- Faster and more seamless integrations
- Rise of subscription-based models
- More emphasis on outcomes of training and resources
Your goals in 2024 should include driving revenue and optimizing your team’s resources while keeping tech advancements, automation tools and end-user experience in mind at every step.
Creating Partner Tiers
In terms of boosting revenue and maximizing resources, developing partner tiers and levels can make 2024 initiatives easier and more effective for your team. Using tiers allows you to rank partners based on their activities and achievements to assist with prioritization, accountability, delegation of resources and incentivization.
Refer to our guide, How to Set Up Partner Tiers & Different Levels, for new additions to your program or restructuring existing levels based on past metrics, future goals and partner management best practices. This resource and checklist will break down the various levels and ways to organize partners.
Think of top-tier partners as those that drive the most revenue, and those at the lowest level are at the starting line of their partnership journeys. Partner tiering makes it easier to make clear-cut decisions and automate access to different resources and portal features, leaving more time for strategy development.
By nature, your highest-tiered partners will be top priority, getting the most of your time. Organization partners by tiers will be extremely helpful in planning and executing strategies in 2024.
Onboarding New Partners
Every partner manager wants to set new partners up for success by delivering a great onboarding experience that meets their unique needs. A poor or confusing onboarding experience can set the relationship off on the wrong foot, while a smooth, hassle-free experience can make all the difference.
In 2024, it’s vital that each partner’s onboarding experience includes intuitive, interactive instructions that are personalized, easy to follow and provide context.
Onboarding should help drive engagement and prompt your partners to complete actions related to your goals. A great first impression is key, and that includes both onboarding activities and training modules.
As you acquire new partners in 2024, use our Channel Partner Welcome Kit Template to get started. You don’t want to overwhelm new partners with too much information they have to wade through upfront, but you also want to ensure all relevant resources are readily available and accessible as early as possible.
Include the right details on processes and initial instructions in your welcome letter, so any questions or issues can be addressed before the dive into their portals.
Retaining Existing Partners
Bringing on a certain number of new partners in 2024 is likely included among your goals for next year, but strengthening existing partner relationships is just as important. Remember: Making a good first impression with your partners is important, but their last impression of you is what counts.
A healthy relationship will drive more leads, revenue and other mutually beneficial actions among your partnerships.
Simplifying your PRM with automation is one way to strengthen partner retention and make it easier for partners to complete actions and level up to the next tier. Improve activation rates and retention with actionable steps your partners can and will want to take.
Use the data we’ve compiled on real partner behavior and portal sessions to design your partner program experience and develop strategy for the new year. Review Six Partner Actions Proven to Increase Retention 10x for insight into PRM features that drive engagement.