Optimizing Channel Partner Sales begins with the right Onboarding Process.
The definitive outcome in a successful channel partnership is to engage and motivate their sales reps to push your product above the rest on a continuous basis.
At first, they might be enthusiastic about the prospect of selling your products and will see large commissions in their eyes. But, as the relationship evolves, if there is a lack of communication, training and motivation; they will quickly devalue your brand or worse, become uninterested in reaching their customers with your products.
Your Channel Partners represent other brands/companies which means their sales teams possess options when it comes down to a sale. The question is, whose solution is it going to be the best and where are they going to focus their limited attention on?
To ensure a high level of engagement with your Partner’s sales force, you need to provide effective partner onboarding just like your in-house sales team receives. This means providing new partners with a comprehensive experience that provides the resources, support and essential tools they need to sell your offering instead of your competitors.
What makes for a successful Channel Partner Management?
It takes time to create a strong relationship and establish trust. To alleviate the risks of an underachieving sales channel, you need the right partnerships plan with continuous communication and support. It has to be proactive with all the necessary information that empower your new channel partner, and their channel sales reps, before malaise sets in.
It’s all about effective and relevant partner communication, an open avenue to collaboration, and access to training. A comprehensive onboarding process is important for your partners to understand your key strategic initiatives. Optimize your in-direct partner onboarding by providing:
Channel Sales Empowerment Training
Effective partner training must be strategic by role, provided to channel partners with a variety of formats, and regularly reinforced to drive knowledge retention. Training can start virtually which promotes autonomy through an online channel partner portal between in-person encounters.
Finding a balance between soft skills, like handling objections, and traditional features and benefits knowledge, will help to maximize their sales confidence and optimize the revenue generated. It is a great opportunity to provide information on core products and services, promoted items, scenarios, and cross-selling and upselling recommendations. Plus, don’t forget to offer partner training to help clarify expectations, define channel sales success and build their confidence in the onboarding plan too.
Quick Access Marketing Resources
As time is money, it is important to give channel sales reps easy access to the vital marketing resources that they need to sell your products, especially those strategic to your business and company objectives. Easy accessibility is vital for them to learn more about your company, its product and other available channel partner services that they may qualify for.
Ensure your channel partners continue to promote your product or solution with complete and up-to-date resources. You may also consider providing users with sales tools to help share with their customers. A good partner channel marketing strategy includes the development of assets such as landing pages, videos, success stories and other content to encourage knowledge distribution. This facilitates communication, promotional efforts and at the same time speaks to your brand’s message.
Branded “White Glove” Support Service
No matter how much planning goes into onboarding or how informed channel partners are, questions and challenges will come up. Ensuring that your Program Manager and participants have direct access to dedicated support service is a key success factor. These customer centric resources, minimize the risk of partners getting lost in the shuffle and builds channel confidence towards the service that your company offers. Program stakeholders will feel more secure knowing they can contact their Customer Success Manager and that the Customer Care team is providing “white glove” support to all partners. Doing so gives importance to the strategic nature of the partners relationship management in every step of the way.
Not all partners will pick up a phone or send an email, so, having quick reference tools like FAQs and screen recordings online are a must. Each tip and topic should be easy to find and easy to read. Elaborate on any key topic with links to more detailed and technical information. Creating empowered participants allows them to focus on selling your brand!
Gamification and Technology
Games are a great way to achieve business objectives, reinforce knowledge and keep reps up-to-date on product info and sales promotions. Forward thinking companies use ChannelAssist’s gamification and technology to impact channel behaviors and promote knowledge retention to elevate rep engagement and drive revenue.
A good onboarding plan will incorporate human support and leverage a technological platform. The goal is to develop a long-lasting and productive channel partnership based on trust, efficiency, high perceived value and shared goals. If you go the extra mile to empower, educate and recognize your channel partner reps with everything they need, the relationship will be more valuable.
Getting Off on The Right Foot
Partner onboarding process is critical to a new partners service launch and introducing your Partners, and their sales reps, to the business objectives and benefits it represents to them. It sets the tone for how you value their efforts and the investment you will make into their success. Done wrong and they may never come or come back!