Partner engagement is the core of a successful channel sales model. Vendors invest thousands of dollars in tools, training, and strategies to boost partner engagement. Yet, they struggle to increase the engagement quotient of their partner model. Do you know why? Because partner engagement is not about tools and training and strategies. It is not about software. It is not about pumping thousands of dollars into partner portals that are rarely used.
Quick fact: Only 20% of partners are actually engaged with the vendor. And most of the times, vendors struggle to identify who fall in that 20%. So, they don’t even know who is doing well and who is not.
Partner engagement is all about helping your partners see your vision, making them feel like they are truly a part of your brand and supporting them in their efforts to sell, making it easy for your partners. This blog discusses 7 mistakes vendors make in their channel strategy that hampers their partner engagement index.
1. You Don’t Measure
The biggest make vendors make is not measuring their channel partner’s performance clearly. You cannot fix what you can’t measure. You cannot boost your channel engagement levels without knowing where they are currently. Most vendors don’t even know how their channel partners are doing. They don’t know which ones are performing well and which ones are ‘just there’. They have absolutely NO visibility into channel partner activities and when you can’t measure current performance, there’s no way you will be able to fix it. So, the first step in driving channel engagement is to gain 100% visibility into partner activities and measure channel performance.
Suppliers often mistakenly view partner engagement as just another marketing or sales objective, to be checked off when a partner initially commits to the partner program or begins down the path to training/certification. This treats engagement as a one-time transaction instead of an ongoing effort that must be sustained over time. - Maria Chien, SiriusDecisions Blog
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2. You don’t really help your channel partners drive revenue
Your channel partners signed up with you because they saw something in it for them. More sales, more revenue, better brand presence--whatever. And, you need to make sure that happens. You need to make sure they benefit. Your partners are too busy working in their business to work on it. You need to provide them with ready-to-use tools and resources to help them build their brand in the local market. Make it easy for your channel partners to reach out to you, and offer them all the assistance they need to sell and market your brand.
3. The Build-it-and-they-will-come approach
One of the most common complaints we hear from our vendor client is “We have all the systems in place, but our partners aren’t using them.” Well, they aren’t using them, because they are too busy working in the business to actually use the tools and resources you provide. If you really want your partners to use your channel sales and marketing tools, resources or even watch your training videos or attempt partner certifications regularly, you need to integrate them with the partner’s environment. This helps drive adoption and subsequently, partner engagement.
“You can build an impressive channel program, invest in industry-leading technology, systems, and tools, offer generous benefits, and establish a comprehensive partner onboarding program – yet these alone will not bring your partners to the game after they have signed the contract. The reality is that all these can be built, and still no one will come”, says Kathy Freeman
4. Telling your partners what to say, but not how and when to say it
When you share your training materials, sales presentations and marketing collateral with your channel partners, you are just telling them what they need to say to their prospects when pitching your product/service. You are not telling them how they need to convey your message and when. What your channel partners need is a guided sales process, the where, what, how and when. What they get instead is a bunch of random sales and marketing collateral and they have no idea how to use it correctly and when. You need to give your partners a scalable, repeatable, successful sales framework.
5. Pushing new business before helping partners go after the existing clients
Do most of your channel marketing efforts focus on lead gen for your partners? It’s great to help your partners get new business, but what you should be really doing is starting at the bottom of the funnel, helping them focus on and monetize their existing book of business first. Once that is done, you can help them move to the top of the funnel for future lead generation.
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6. Not walking the talk
Most vendors just dump training materials and marketing and sales collateral on their partners and expect them to sell. Most training and onboarding programs barely equip channel partners to meet vendor expectations. You need to show your channel partners the path to success. You need to handhold them, at least initially and guide them through the entire sales process. That will not only help them sell better but will also prove it to them that your brand is saleable.
7. Thinking partner engagement can be achieved with technology alone
Quick fact: Only 23% of partners actually use the partner portal provided by the vendor to its fullest capacity.
When we talk about partner engagement, partner relationship management or channel management, the very first thing that our clients talk about are the tools, the software programs, their partner portals, etc.,. But, we tell them, while software programs and platforms are a key element of PRM, they are also often ignored by their partners because they are too busy working in their business to learn to use them. This is where partner marketing and sales concierge services can help. Don’t just give your partners the tools, show them how to use it, show them it bears the results when used AND, offer them the resources to work on the tools you provide. A few examples of channel marketing and sales concierge services that you can offer to your channel partners include -
⇒ Setting up and running social, email or print marketing and sales campaigns for your channel partners
⇒ Cold calling or appointment setting for your partners
⇒ Importing leads and contacts into your partner’s account in the portal
Liked what you read? Check out our whitepaper, The Ultimate Blueprint To Channel Partner Engagement. It is a comprehensive guide to help you boost your partner engagement metrics to get you the results you really seek. This whitepaper offers you a step-by-step blueprint that will help you-
⇒ Identify the key PRM elements that will help you drive more revenue through your channel partners
⇒ Learn how to identify your top-performing channel partners
⇒ Discover that one thing you can offer your channel partners that will make you their favorite vendor
⇒ Understand how you can make your PRM programs really work
⇒ Unlock the secrets to helping your channel partners see the path to success
⇒ Learn what tools you need to support your channel partners in their sales and marketing efforts