In this day and age, industry accepted practices often end up failing and the main reason for this is because they are designed to attract and engage a huge amount of partner types.
Is your Partner Program not Building Personal Relationships?
If your partner program is not motivating the partners who you work with to give you a percentage of their time then there is a high chance that you are nowhere near as personal as you should be. Partner accounts are services that are staffed by individuals. They are all doing their best to profit and grow the sales for their organisation too. These individuals in sales, engineering, professional services and more are now more interested in working with companies who are willing to invest time understanding their needs.
Why This is So Important
In the year 2018, verticalized business solutions were more popular than ever. The problem is that they appear to have overwhelmed executives with choices, and this makes it hard for them to choose a vendor for their portfolio. As a result, the power in the relationship has made a shift from producers to sellers. This has brought around a dramatic expansion of options and it also means that they can work with who they prefer. Partner sales executives and even senior staff now have a huge range of vendors to choose from and they are defaulting to the team that happen to make them feel most comfortable. In a few ways, you will see that they are behaving in a very similar way to what B2B buyers are. They are working with the personnel with whom they have a personal connection. The bottom line is that partner team members have far too many choices and that now they just prefer to work with those who they know they can trust.
How to Build a Partner Program
If you review the extensive detail behind channel programs, you will see that it tends to come down to the high importance of survey respondents. They focus on having a personal relationship with the vendor. In this day and age, it’s safe to say that we live in an exciting time. There are a ton of tools available and they are all designed to support the channel and the innovative business ideas that come with them. This journey is not for those who are faint of heart. You need to roll up your sleeves and you also need to understand the best way to connect with those who make your channel a success. This will often require utilising the channel tools that are on the market today and it may even mean repurposing some of the tools that are being used for other channels too. If you want to start that purpose then here are a few things that will help you to get started.
Understand what you Need to Do
The different people who are at your channel partner organisation will really make up a huge part of your sales. A vendor who is successful will never look at their target and then hire whoever is available, without checking their qualifications. You need to have a plan so that you can generate the domain that is required and you also need to make sure that you are competitively motivated too. The channel should be no different here. The first thing that you need to do is create an enablement plan for your channel so that you can go on to experience nothing but success. When you do this, it is important that you understand the various business models that are out there and you also need to know how to reach your different end users too. For example, if you have a mix of IT buyers, some line-of-business buyers and more then you will need to understand the individual need of the channel so that you can cater to everyone.
Make Individuals Successful
They say that your success is only as good as the partners who you work with. This is true. Successful people understand what needs to be done in order to further what they have achieved. Sure, there will be some unique situations and you may even need to talk to different people as well but eventually you will start to see trends and you will also see roles you can leverage in order to develop new components for the program.
Develop a Joint Plan
There is a lot of attention being placed on the importance of having a solid business plan. The business plan is often developed with having some kind of senior management as the partner and in some instances it can even be seen as being a check box item. This is done to try and satisfy any program requirements. If you want your business plan to be effective then you need to make it personal. It needs to drive some specific goals and it also needs to drive tactics too. If you have a very large channel then it’s important that you are creative about building a personalised plan. You need to look for ways to try and enable your distributors and you also need to try and line up the process too.
Designing your Program
Your channel program should always be designed so that it can be mixed and matched by a partner role. When you are thinking about your program, try and think about achieving a high level of mutual success. The last thing that you should be thinking about is program compliance. Using the research that you should have done already, try and develop components that can then help your partners to become rock stars. They need to work with one another to try and define the goals and they also need to try and build on vendor solutions too. This will give people the chance to develop their own educational roadmap and it will also give them the support required to achieve these goals too. Self-service capabilities need to try and use data to suggest business growth and even business plan options too.
Plan your Roadmap
The mitigation to a personalised approach will always be a journey that needs to be started ASAP. You need to be selective and you also need to try and setup several manual processes too. Try and look for areas that have a high chance of return for your business, and also make sure that you benefit it for your partners too. You may find issues with the system integration as a whole, and you may even find technology limitations too. That being said, it is still important that you prioritise them so that you can figure out how to address them. If you are stuck then look for ideas outside the channel too. For instance, there may be a lot happening on AI and even automation. Can this be leveraged into a partner journey?
Building a Relationship
Any strong manager will be able to build a personal relationship with their executives. They will usually do this through a series of one-on-one sessions. The challenge is how to do it on a huge scale. A typical channel manager may have anywhere from 5 to 50 partners to manage. They will all need to have a specific time devoted to them in order to build a meaningful relationship. The only practical way for you to develop these kinds of relationships would be for you to have a range of tools that you can use to try and do more, but in way less time.
Scorecards by Partner Role
By having scorecards for each partner role, you can then begin to have a sustainable and strong relationship with each. You can also help them with any important issues that you may be having. Sales team members are constantly looking for the chance to set sales targets and they are also trying to collaborate with other companies so that they can achieve these goals too.
Partner Sales Executives
Channel managers need to try and find a way to conduct business reviews with their partners so that they can speak to them knowing everything they need to know. Tools based on this pull all of your key data together in one convenient location, so that the only thing that you need to do is review online and then download everything you need to PowerPoint.
Senior Partner Executives
A five minute marketing planning process can help partners to select executives and even activities too. It can also help them to estimate leads, revenue and even their ROI. The best thing? All of this can be done in under 5 minutes or less.
QBR is for senior partners who are looking for a way to find out where they stand right now, while also giving them the support they need to get out there and achieve their own goals. They respect companies that have come prepared and this can help you to do that with ease.
Overall, by having relationships with the individuals on your team, you can then win the battle. Winning partner programs tend to focus on building relationships. Deep partner sales and relationships happen when the executives have the strong belief that they will be more successful with the help of the vendor. Partner marketers really do want all of the help that they can get as this will help them to deliver much more effective leads and it will also help them to be much more measurable too. Supportive vendor teams will nearly always try and build much deeper relationships with their partners because it will help them to have a much stronger growth of revenue.