Loyal partners lead with your products and solutions, and can successfully win over the competition. Today’s partner landscape is ever changing as more and more companies recognize the opportunity an indirect channel offers. The new reality is that today’s channel partners are free agents representing more solutions than ever before. With the competition for your partner’s mindshare increasing how can you stay top of mind? You can probably identify your top partners, but what is going on with the rest. These 4 tips will help you better understand your partner and their loyalty to your offering.
Know your partners
The first step in understanding your partners is knowing who actually makes up your program. Who are your partners and what do they look like? When was the last time you looked at all that partner profile data you have been gathering? What does your partner profile data tell you about your program? If you don’t have the necessary profile data get it! Key information could include: primary business model, products/solutions sold, other programs they are a part of, anything else that would be crucial to your unique program. This detail will help you understand who your partners are and what they care about. The data will also indicate how much they care about your offering and if you are aligned to the things they care about.
Put yourself in your partner’s shoes
Think like a partner. How easy are you to do business with? Do your partners have to jump through fiery hoops to work with you? Is your program stuck in the 90’s or have you adjusted to the changing market? Your partners do business with companies that are easy to do business with and have solid solutions that fit their business goals. Knowing your partners will help you align your program to the things that they care about and help them accomplish their business goals. If you don’t know what your partners care about, ask them!
Look at the data
It is likely that you have some technology in place to manage your partner program. If you don’t, get it! Engaged partners are loyal partners. The data collected from your technology platform or partner relationship management (PRM) system will provide you critical data around partner engagement. How are your partners engaging with you? Are they leveraging the things you are providing? If your content, training or program elements are not being utilized, change them. Do you know who you are recruiting and are you retaining new partners as well as existing partners? Analyzing these details should be a quarterly activity with action items to increase your stickiness.
Incentivize more than the company
Now more than ever solution decisions are being made at the partner rep level. While incentivizing partner sales reps can be tricky, it is key to align your incentive programs with the results you want to obtain. Things to consider are: rep training, lead/opp registration and closure, joint marketing efforts, and rep engagement. Consider gamifying these pieces and any others that may be crucial for your program success. Successful gamification will make it rewarding and transparent for the rep and manageable for you.
With the channel landscape morphing, it is time to take a look at where your program is at and make the changes to set the table for success in 2016 and beyond. If you do the same things, you will yield the same results. If you want loyal partners make sure your program is inline with their business goals.