The Ultimate Guide to Defining and Optimizing Your Partner Journey for Success
In today’s challenging economic landscape, businesses are actively seeking efficient and effective strategies to drive revenue growth. One approach that has gained significant attention is forming partnerships.However, despite its popularity, there remains a lack of understanding regarding the intricacies that lead to successful partnerships.
A crucial element in establishing a fruitful partnership lies in crafting a comprehensive partnership journey. This journey ensures that partners receive the necessary support and enablement to maximize their chances of success. Understanding and implementing a well-defined partner journey is paramount if you are searching for methods to revitalize your partner program and cultivate more productive partnerships.
Defining Your Partner Journey
When you begin your partner program, most people think recruitment is the first step to a successful partner program.
What’s a partner program without partners, right?
However, before you go out and start getting partners into your program, you first need to create the program that your partners will join. Building a thoughtful process ensures that from the first partner you recruit, you are increasing the likelihood that they will be productive.
So what elements do you need to think through that make up the parts of your partner’s journey?
The initial phase of a partner’s journey commences when you recruit them into your program.
Although they have not formally joined your partner program, this stage holds immense significance as it allows you to assess their suitability.
Failing to dedicate time and attention to this stage increases the likelihood of partners not progressing to subsequent stages discussed in this article.
It is crucial to ensure compatibility with your program, as it directly impacts the effectiveness of the information we will delve into later.
Key elements of this journey stage involve constructing your Ideal Partner Profile (IPP) and maintaining a sharp focus on identifying companies that align well with your partner program.
This step is a minor one of the partner journey. (And as an FYI, some programs run without signed contracts.)
However, it can be critical in the channel where you are often dealing with partner types like resellers, who have commercial terms that enable them to sell your software.
Once you have assessed their suitability for your partner program, it’s time to get them signed.
This contractual agreement can differ based on the partner types and the commercial relationships. However, building up standardized terms that can be edited is a best practice at this stage to ensure efficiency and prevent you from having to create custom contracts with every new partner that you sign.
As an additional step at this stage,
it is also worth adding your partner and their signed status into your CRM as good housekeeping to maintain an accurate record of who you partner with.
PRM solutions like Allbound provide robust integrations to many of your favorite CRMs, meaning this workflow can be done automatically inside your partner relationship management system.
Once the pleasantries are out of the way and you are official partners, your next step is to organize a kickoff call.
On this kickoff call, especially if it’s a sizeable strategic partner, you will want to engage additional executive team members to ensure long-term buy-in.
Having a formalized call where you talk about expectations from both sides and even, in some cases, project revenue (although this is slightly harder to do) will not only enable you to gauge the buy-in from your partner but will also give the partnership clear direction from the start on what both sides expect.
This can be invaluable as you start your relationship and give you valuable data, which is referenced in later strategic reviews (which we will touch on later).
Now it’s time to kick-start the partnership and set things in motion.
After all the necessary discussions, you’re ready to steer the partnership in the right direction. However, when it comes to onboarding, your focus should be on more than just the partner company. It’s crucial to consider all the individuals who play a critical role in the partnership’s success, such as salespeople, customer success teams, and marketing personnel.
At this stage of the partner’s journey, you should develop an onboarding strategy that raises awareness and educates key personnel within your partner organization.
Here are some essential factors to consider during this stage.
Firstly, ensure that your partner and their teams know where your Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform lives and how to access it. Since most of your onboarding content resides within the PRM, it is vital to establish clear directions for accessing it.
A best practice is to obtain a list of individuals from your partner counterpart who need to be added to the PRM and then incorporate them accordingly.
Utilizing a solution like Allbound, you can automate communications to guide them to the correct destination.
Your partner managers should regularly track the number of individuals accessing the PRM. If there are any who have yet to access it, additional reminders should be sent to encourage engagement.
An additional step that can be undertaken at this stage is to define and communicate the rules of engagement around your program in regard to deal registration and what should happen if channel conflict occurs. Getting ahead of these points early in your partner journey will prevent issues from occurring further down the line.
Once inside the PRM, your onboarding process should focus on educating your partner teams about the value of your tool, the customers it serves, and the recommended approach for selling your solution.
Regarding best practices and training, keeping the content concise, relevant, and engaging is essential. The goal is to make the onboarding process as smooth and painless as possible for your partner teams.
Fortunately, there are ways to track training completion. With a platform like Allbound, you can establish parameters to monitor the time required to complete training modules. This practice enables you to quickly identify individuals who still need to complete the onboarding process, allowing you to reach out to your partner counterpart and provide assistance where needed.
I can hear the confusion already. We just talked about training; isn’t enablement the same?
Well, let’s clarify. Enablement is a distinct aspect of partnership programs that is often misconstrued. Merely training your partners once is not sufficient.
Enablement, in essence, focuses on discovering and testing new tactics and strategies. It is a vital component of the partner journey, separate from training, as it continuously updates partner teams on what’s new with your product. This includes sharing updated case studies, marketing collateral, and other resources they can utilize to drive demand and ensure you remain top of mind.
When you partner with other companies, they likely have multiple partnerships in place. Consequently, it is crucial to establish measures that ensure you are the partner they consistently think of during conversations, leading to increased lead generation.
One effective tactic to support this aspect of the partner journey is setting up recurring partner communications, such as a newsletter.
This newsletter can contain all the relevant information that needs to be regularly shared with key stakeholders.
Additionally, gamifying ongoing enablement can be a valuable best practice. Platforms like Allbound allow you to assign award points for specific actions completed within the platform, which can be integrated into these regular communications.
This gamification approach enhances the effectiveness of the enablement process.
For more enablement best practices,
check out the “Level Up Your Marketing Enablement Strategy” article.
In addition to empowering sales teams through consistent messaging and content, another aspect of the partner journey significantly contributes to overall demand generation and attracting more deals your way. We’re referring to partner co-marketing.
Incorporating co-marketing into your partner journey can be approached in two ways: scaled partner marketing and one-off partner marketing.
As a best practice, providing co-marketing resources that are readily available to all your partners is essential. This is commonly achieved by including resources within your Partner Relationship Management (PRM) system. Partners and their marketing teams can then access and co-brand these resources, effectively taking them to the market to generate demand. This scalable motion is accessible to all partners, irrespective of their size.
However, it is also crucial to consider a one-off partner marketing approach. This entails running joint marketing campaigns with strategically selected partners, such as webinars and events. By collaborating closely on these initiatives, you can maximize the impact and reach of your marketing efforts.
Partner co-marketing plays a vital role in the overall partner journey as it creates brand awareness in the market, benefiting both your organization and your partners. It is a powerful tool for expanding your market presence and strengthening your joint value proposition.
Here we have it, what it’s all about.It’s that magical moment in your partner’s journey when a partner registers a deal with you.
It’s an exciting milestone that signifies the success of the preceding steps in your partner’s journey. However, there are crucial actions you must take to ensure a smooth process.
The first tip to get this aspect of the partner journey right is to maintain consistent communication regarding the status of the deal. It’s important to update your partners at every stage, including whether the deal has been accepted, and provide further updates as the deal progresses.
Failure to be transparent with this information can result in frustration for partner sales teams, potentially leading to dissatisfaction with your partner program.
Fortunately, a solution like Allbound exists to streamline deal registration and eliminate confusion.
With Allbound, you can customize your portal to align with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and reflect any changes in deal statuses. If a lead is disqualified or rejected for any reason, the partner receives an immediate notification about the status change and the reasoning behind it.
If you want to dig into this topic in more depth,
check out the “Deal Registration Software and Best Practices” resource.
As mentioned earlier, one of the initial steps in our partner journey is alignment. It involves establishing shared goals and creating a blueprint for the upcoming relationship. However, alignment alone is not enough. Continuous check-ins are essential to ensure that everything progresses as planned.
Hence, another crucial step in the partner journey is scheduling regular touchpoints to assess the partnership and strategize for the future. Two specific types of touchpoints should be established:
- Regular Check-ins:
- These occur on a cadence mutually determined by you and your partner. They serve as opportunities to discuss ongoing progress, address any concerns, and maintain open lines of communication.
- Strategic Reviews:
- It’s equally important to organize strategic reviews quarterly. During these reviews, the same stakeholders involved in the initial alignment call reconvene to evaluate the developments and accomplishments of the past quarter. They assess whether the goals set at the beginning of the year are still on track.
Without these strategic reviews, the partnership can quickly lose direction and fade into obscurity.
By scheduling these touchpoints, you ensure the partnership stays focused, relevant, and continuously aligned with the shared objectives.
Evaluating Your Partner Journey
Once you have established your partner program and have partners engaged in the steps outlined above, it is important to assess the overall partner experience and make necessary changes periodically.
There are several ways to evaluate the effectiveness of your partner journey, the first being to consistently seek feedback from your partners.
You can collect feedback through regular discussions or by implementing surveys to gather partner input.
Regularly gathering feedback lets you easily identify what is working well and what needs improvement in your partner journey, allowing you to make the necessary adjustments for optimal performance.
Another option is to personally go through the steps mentioned above, particularly those involving your Partner Relationship Management (PRM) system, to ensure a positive experience.
By testing the partner journey yourself, you can identify areas that require improvement before onboarding partners and potentially avoid frustration.
Creating a partner journey is essential to establishing a successful partner program. A well-structured partner journey acts as a roadmap, guiding partners through specific gates that increase their chances of achieving success.
Without a clearly defined partner journey consisting of distinct steps, your partner program may become disorganized and confusing, leading to partners who struggle to reach their full potential.
Throughout this blog post, we have outlined the key steps in creating a partner journey, starting from partner recruitment and extending to incorporating strategic reviews with each partner. While designing a partner journey may initially appear daunting, leveraging technology like Allbound can simplify the process.
Allbound offers a top-notch Partner Relationship Management (PRM) solution that seamlessly integrates with your partner program. It provides a comprehensive set of features and functionalities to support the development and management of your partner journey, making the entire process more efficient and effective.
By utilizing Allbound’s industry-leading PRM, you can streamline the partner journey creation process and enhance the overall experience for your partners. This, in turn, will contribute to your partner program’s long-term success and growth.
To find out more about how Allbound can help you, book a demo.