Partners are the lifeblood of the channel. As channel leaders, we are tasked with increasing revenues and driving strategic initiatives. Neither is possible without partner buy-in, participation, and ultimately, advocacy.
Enabling partners to drive their own growth is the best way to develop a mutually beneficial relationship. But how do we enable partners?
What do partners want, what do they need? Where are the gaps in sales, marketing, and engineering and how do we fill them with the abundance of resources available to us?
Here are the top 10 ways to enable channel partners:
- Spiffs – Spiffs are a great way to incent partner sales reps to sell particular solutions. This is especially useful when driving special channel initiatives, such as new product launches, competitive take-outs, renewals and more. Cash is the fastest way to a sales rep’s heart!
- Certifications – Certifying partner organizations, individual sales reps or engineers is the epitome of a dedicated partnership. Certified partners will have the necessary knowledge to recommend and sell your solutions. Additionally, end users will view partners as an authority for your brand.
- Sales training – In addition to the technical expertise required to sell solutions, reps can greatly benefit from sales training. Increasing a rep’s ability to sell has an obvious impact on revenue. But consistency across reps can result in a better end-user experience, and most importantly, customer loyalty.
- Self-service marketing portal – A self-service marketing portal is a great way to deliver a library of tools and resources (many of which are included in this list) to partners who would otherwise not have access. It is important to note that despite the name, many partners often make better use of self-service portals when working with a representative that supports their account.
- Marketing managers – Providing a dedicated marketing representative can help partners maximize allocated resources, develop marketing plans, and implement and manage lead generation campaigns. It’s also a great way to hold partners accountable to strategic initiatives and improve overall pipeline.
- Campaigns – Designing end-user campaigns is a great way for partners to seamlessly increase their lead generation efforts. Campaigns can be run on partners behalves so that the leads are assigned directly to sales reps. They can also be delivered through a self-service marketing platform for partners to use as needed. Adding the ability to co-brand and customize is a nice touch here.
- Content – There is an overwhelming demand for content. Not only is content a must-have addition to partner-led campaigns, but can also be used at events, and in sales discussions or even as a follow-up. Again, the ability to customize here will significantly increase partner impact and end-user engagement.
- Vendor marketplace – Providing a marketplace of approved vendors and the specific services they offer will fill the gaps where partners don’t possess the required level of expertise.
- MDF – Funding enables partners to financially support their marketing activities, thus driving demand for your solutions. This pairs well with many of the activities on this list, especially when partners are hesitant to invest in marketing due to a lack experience.
- Funded head – There is probably no better way of ensuring partner commitment to your brand than directly funding one of their employees. Typically, they’re a sales rep, engineer or marketer who primarily focuses on driving revenue for your solutions.
Enabling partners is vital to any channel strategy
Strengthening your relationship with channel partners can have a significant impact on revenue and influence over the market.
Just be sure you are providing the right resources to the right partners. Many companies improperly allocate resources to channel partners that are not loyal. There is nothing worse than funding your competitors.
Work with channel managers to develop a strong understanding of your partner base, and their individual strengths and weaknesses. Then, offer support and resources that close the gaps to strengthen partners and the overall channel.
What methods are you leveraging to enable partners? How has partner enablement led to strong channel growth for your company?