Channel enablement is a daunting task. It requires many pieces to fit together, sometimes detracting from the bigger picture, thus resulting in an unfinished puzzle and ineffective channel. There are three key pieces to successful channel enablement: partner marketing, partner sales, and communication. With these three pieces working in tandem, a channel can function efficiently, improving partner performance and channel outcomes.

Partner Marketing

Many channel enablement programs feature partner marketing support of some kind to encourage partners to drive specific products. These include self-serve content hubs and/or marketing execution platforms, dedicated marketing support strategists, or marketing development funds.

Partner Sales

From a partner sales enablement standpoint, manufacturers or distributors often create incentive programs or offer trainings at discounted rates in hopes of accelerating high-quality partners through a learning curve to sell their latest technologies and take advantage of early adopters. They provide sales collateral, like ROI calculators, case studies, and other solution presentation materials with all intentions of helping partners nurture leads and convert them quickly.

In theory, this is great!

But in practice, channel program managers find these provided resources remain underutilized, leaving them scratching their heads wondering what else partners could possibly want from a program support standpoint. In truth, it’s not necessarily a matter of what else partners want, but figuring out a better way for partners to leverage the resources already available to them. And this is where the third, and most important piece comes into play.


Channel communication is critical to the success of any enablement program, especially within enterprise organizations with huge partner bases. It’s highly likely that there are multiple partner programs in play at any given time, and if they are not navigated adeptly, partners either will not hear about one or be overwhelmed at the expectation they may need to participate in all of them.

So, what does successful channel communication Look like?

It begins with an inventory of what programs currently exist and the SWOT analyses of each. What is working about this program, and what do you need to change? There is nothing wrong with not reinventing a wheel; it’s easier to replace one than to buy a new car. Tweaking a program that already exists is much easier than launching a brand new one and trying to recruit partners.

Speaking of partners, it’s time to understand which partners are participating in which programs. What have they promised to do? Have they delivered? Weed out partners who aren’t stepping up so you can focus on those who are, or identify those who are “stuck” and further accelerate their growth as a channel partner.

Channel program communications are most effective via partner engagement managers or partner relationship managers. Regardless of the title your organization uses, these individuals are the subject matter experts in their program(s) and can move a partner through a program most efficiently, accelerating program adoption, increasing partner participation, and improving overall channel program performance.

Are these pieces in your channel enablement puzzle? How do you ‘fit’ your program pieces together?