In today’s competitive landscape, your Partners work with a variety of Vendors and don’t have time or patience to navigate a difficult program. Vendors who focus on ease of doing business are the ones finding success in their Partner programs.
How can you ensure your Program is easy to navigate but still provides value? Here are four components of a simple, effective Partner Program:
- Start holistically then work your way down
Rome wasn’t built in a day. A simple Partner Program is no different. First, think about the overarching framework of your program. What are the goals? What are you providing? Then drill down. Consider Partner types and regional differences. A simple program for a traditional VAR might not be a simple program for a MSP. Social selling webinars in English won’t be helpful to German-speaking Partners. Though it may sound counterintuitive, when it comes to Partner Programs, “easy” does not mean one-size-fits-all.
Working to make your program simple includes getting internal teams on board. You need full engagement from all teams involved in the program elements – from field sales to marketing to support. Keep in mind a simple program for your Partners may not mean a simple program internally. There will be lots of planning, mapping, and internal education to ensure your teams “get” the program, and can help Partners use it effectively.
- Automate as much as possible
Incentives and tools won’t move the needle unless it’s easy for Partners to gain access and understand the benefits (to them). A user-friendly Partner Portal and simple processes should take priority. Claudio Ayub’s says, “Partners today expect to engage with manufacturer-provided tools, as easily as they do with online retailers or social applications.” He’s right; Vendors should take a cue from B2C companies and automate for simplicity.
Automation helps Partners quickly find or request information about anything program related, be it content syndication, warranties, or rebates. Even Partner-facing blogs should include automated elements – Click To Tweet is one example of a plugin that can be used to boost Partner social sharing and engagement with very little Partner effort.
- Customize through automation
Just like your Program, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work with automation. Again, not all Partners are the same. They have different needs based on their size, skill set, location, job title, and industry. To best address Partner-specific pain points, consider customized automation around:
- How Partners receive communication
- What types of content Partners receive
- Training Partners’ sales teams
A customized approach to automation lets you personalize content and address those specific pain points while eliminating time-consuming one-off communications.
- Offer Business Development Funds instead of Marketing Development Funds
MDF is a great resource but a lot of Partners don’t take advantage of it. And while we can offer tips on how Vendors can help Partners spend MDF effectively, sometimes Partners require help outside of marketing.
If the Vendor’s business is new to a Partner, flexibility with funds is key. Partners may need assistance if there’s a new technology or service to build out, like transitioning their business from sales revenue to annuity revenue. Instead of working from a list of solely marketing-based activities, providing more business-focused options helps Partners grow and build business in a way that’s tailored to their specific road to success.
While crafting an “easy” program can initially be a lot of work for your organization, the goal is to create less work for your Partners. Let them focus less on navigating the program and more on increasing their business, and in turn, increasing yours as well.
What else makes a Partner Program simple? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!