4 Partner Program Managing Approaches for Vendors
The days of vendors administrating each piece of the partner program have long past. Vendors no longer have ample control over how partners should approach the channel, what leads to pursue, which lead generation tools to deploy, or how incentives will be rewarded.
Today, channel partnerships are done through a collaborative effort; vendors nowadays perceive partners as teammates, not customers.
In order for vendors to maintain partner loyalty, inspire motivation, and cultivate consistent recurring revenue, they must enable partners to be successful—even if that means sacrificing the “old way of doing things.”
Thanks to ever-evolving technologies, social media, and cloud-based data transferring—vendors and partners share a much different relationship than in year’s past. Because of this, vendors must adapt to the changing landscape of channel partnerships or face a snowball effect of partner disengagement.
The following addresses how vendors should approach the new-age philosophy of managing partner programs:
1) Harness your Value Proposition to Partners
The galactic shift from stagnating, one-dimensional communication to a cloud-based data exchanging portal has forced partners to introspectively reexamine their goals, needs, pain points, and go-to-market strategy; in other words, partners have more information in regards to what makes their business productive, and what resources they need to improve their process flow.
Luckily, partner portal platforms provide vendors with the perfect mechanism for spotlighting their value proposition that is both tangible and thorough.
For example, let’s say a vendor promotes a new MDF incentive program to partners via a cloud-based portal. Within the promotional content can be resources that detail the benefits of participating in the program, and the unique attributes that help contribute to a specific partner’s objectives; vendors have the flexibility of tailoring their message to fit the unique needs and wants of individual partners.
2) Educate Partners On and Off-Site
Before emerging technologies became the catalyst for fruitful channel partnerships, vendors would only supply a limited amount time and energy into educating channel partners; in the past, vendors would occasionally visit partners on-site to discuss best practices in go-to-market strategies or information on product functionality and customer service.
This resulted in partners having to adjust their schedule and prioritize their work around the convenience of vendors.
Nowadays, such scenarios may exist but are combined with digital resources of content that can be accessed 24/7.
Partners require vendors to make their lives more convenient, not the other way around. Whether it’s a press release on the unveiling of a new product, PDF infographic on how-to market a specific product, media alert on industry-related news, or 2-minute product training video tutorial—vendors must make a comprehensive catalog of diverse, relevantly informative resources always available. And routinely audit and/or clean-out content that no longer applies.
3) [Constructively] Assist During Lead Generation Process
Unlike in the past—where vendors initiate the direction of partners with targeted leads in an effort perpetuate their internal business goals—partners now call upon vendors for assistance to help secure their objectives.
Vendors today should act almost as a spiritual leader instead of as an authoritative figure; in other words, helping partners with tangible resources that improve their opportunity at succeeding.
From providing co-branded digital marketing content to assisting in joint sales calls, from helping partners with customer questions to handing down qualified leads—the more constructive and engaged you are during the lead-generation process, the stronger and more lucrative your channel partnership will become.
4) Conceptualize your Incentives Based Off Partner Needs
The days of designing a grassroots incentive program designed solely with the purpose of attaining value for your business no longer applies. Today, incentive programs should be designed based on creating value for your partner[s].
After all, it’s an incentive program, not a vendor program.
Listen to your partner’s pain points, needs, and objectives. What things are most urgent to their business? Funds made available for marketing activity? Rewarding internal sales staff consistently? Acquiring qualified leads? Establishing themselves as brand industry leaders?
Whatever the problem or goal may be, it’s imperative that when you create your incentives to align the benefits with specific partners.