When a vendor’s channel is evolving, in the first 12 to 18 months it might see 5% of partners who are actively engaging while the other 95% are partners who’ve made one sale and disappeared. Whether you have a new channel or a longstanding one, I’m sure you’ve seen this commitment issue. With that in mind, how do you entice new partners who you know will be good for your business? Here are a few tips:
Make It Easy To Work Together
When I was an alliance manager, I worked with a handful of vendors. The ones whose products we sold most had programs that were easy to navigate. This meant approachable Partner Guides and platforms, easy-to-navigate reporting processes and a great portal that didn’t require a PhD to navigate.
If you ask solution providers what they want more of from their vendors, it’s support with lead generation. It’s key to hooking your partners and keeping their loyalty. This doesn’t mean just delivering your partners a list of leads or a generic email campaign produced by corporate. Instead, lead generation support is best done with partner specific marketing support including guidance on optimizing their presence in the online communications sphere. It also means template campaigns you offer your partners centered on the end customer. Customizable materials are essential to partners feeling supported in their lead generation efforts.
What’s In It For Me?
This one’s a given. If a partner sells your competitors product and makes more money, yours will only be sold when a customer demands it. Make sure you have great margins, rebates and incentives that you can easily communicate to potential new partners.
Once you’ve hooked new partners, two key tips I offer to let only the good ones into your channel program are:
Keep Your Expectations High
It’s hard to weed out inactive and sub-par partners once they’re in your channel program. When you’re reviewing applications from potential partners, be sure that every partner you take on fits your business model. Include a question about annual revenue so you can evaluate financial compatibility. When you keep your bar high, the partners you bring on board are typically easier to work with collaboratively driving success.
Commitment is Key
I’ve said it to vendor after vendor we’ve worked with: the importance of testing your partners’ commitment to your products is key. I recommend offering a thirty minute required webinar that includes your value proposition with a follow-up quiz to make sure your future partners know your products. While a thirty minute webinar may seem like a high expectation, you want partners on board who will be willing to join onto a two hour partner training down the road, right? With that in mind, a product webinar shouldn’t be too big an ask.
Vendors who have the happiest partners don’t focus on how many partners they have. They prioritize what they’re doing for their partners and they only take on partners they’re sure they can collaborate with. Have you found ways to entice and keep winning partners that I might be missing? I’d love to hear more ideas.
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