Optimizing Channel Partner Sales Begins with Onboarding.
The definitive outcome in a successful channel partnership is to engage and motivate
their 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 Partners represent other brands which means their sales teams possess options when it comes down to a sale. The question is, whose solution is it going to be 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 onboarding just like your in-house sales team receives. This means providing partner reps with a comprehensive experience that provides the resources, support and essential tools they need to sell your offering instead of your competitors.
So, what does Successful Onboarding look like?
It takes time to build a strong relationship and establish trust. To alleviate the risks of an underachieving sales channel, you need the right plan with continuous communication and support. It has to be proactive with all the necessary information that empower your new channel partners, and their reps, before malaise sets in.
It’s all about effective and relevant communication, an open avenue to collaboration, and access to training and resources. A comprehensive onboarding process also means your partners understand your key strategic initiatives. Optimize your in-direct channel onboarding by providing:
Sales Empowerment Training
Effective training must be strategic by role, provided to 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 platform between in-person encounters.
Finding a balance between soft skills, like handling objections, and traditional features and benefits knowledge, will maximize their sales confidence and optimize the revenue generated. It is a great opportunity to provide core products and services, promoted items, scenarios, and cross-selling and upselling recommendations. Plus, don’t forget to offer program training to clarify expectations, define success and build their confidence in the program too.
Quick Access Resources
As time is money, it is important to give channel reps easy access to the vital resources that they need to sell your products, especially those strategic to your objectives. Easy access is vital for them to learn more about your company, its product and other available channel benefits 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 them with sales tools to share with their customers. A good partner channel strategy includes the development of assets such as landing pages, videos, success stories and other resources to encourage distribution. This facilitates communication, promotional efforts and at the same time speaks to your brand’s message.
Branded “White Glove” Support
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 is a key success factor. These program centric resources, minimize the risk of anyone getting lost in the shuffle and builds channel confidence in your brand’s 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 their participants. Doing so gives importance to the strategic nature of the relationship every step of the way.
Not all participants 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 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 program 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
Onboarding is critical to a program launch and introducing your Partners, and their sales reps, to the 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!