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What are the ingredients to a successful partner program?
To a vendor, this question is the bread and butter to a productive and healthy channel network; an indirect sale funnel that is tried and tested to produce results, infiltrate diverse marketplaces and contribute to long-term b2b partnerships.
But long before the program is designed and incentives are offered, vendors need to recruit companies with the competence, determination, and resources to earn your reward.
In today’s go-go, white-knuckle business environment, vendors can’t afford to spend countless months trying to build the perfect channel network; the partner onboarding process mandates a combination of efficient development and thorough analysis in order to remain relevant in the modern marketplace. Failure to deploy such a corporate recruitment infrastructure risks stale inventory, unsatisfied end-customers, wasted manpower/resources, and inevitably, program-catastrophe.
1.) Segment of Duties
Partner onboarding should never fall squarely on the shoulders of one individual or department. Partner on-boarding is a collaborative, team effort where multiple minds and hands cohesively interlock and initiate opportunities. However, organization and assigned ownership are imperative for productive development. For every new lead opportunity, each member of your company should be designated to an exclusive role where objective duties are assigned and executed for efficient recruitment.
2.) Display your Character Right away
We’ve all heard the romantic cliché “It was love at first sight,” enough to make us all sick. But disregarding its pretentious connotation—it’s true; whether you care to accept it, first impressions matter. So, put yourself in the shoes of a potential partner and consider the first things they will be introduced to such as your website, social media profile, and communication between your sales team.
What are some things you can do to strengthen your initial impression?
- Demonstrate how easy and stress-free doing business with you is.
- Train your customer service department on proper b2b etiquette.
- Meet them for lunch or on-campus so they can put a face to your company.
- Automate the application process with objective guidelines and an aesthetically pleasing interface.
- Research company value proposition to tailor message or angle pitch.
3.) Robust Automation
Cloud-based solutions and PRM software are all the rage in productive partner on-boarding. But simply having automation sign-up available and having it seamlessly accessible are two drastically different things. Not only should you design an objective roadmap that explicitly details each step of the process, it should be done with sophistication—appeasing both visual and cognitive sensory. Additionally, vendors can deploy gamification and/or milestones to the partner process, which details and thus rewards completion of different phases and acknowledges requirement fulfillment.
4.) Initial Success
In order to sufficiently gauge positive motivation and tangible productivity, vendors should assist in the early stages of the partnership; in other words, helping to contribute to short-term wins, reliable communication, on-site training, joint marketing initiatives, along with reinforcing your bottom line is key to demonstrating your value as a partner—confirming to the partner that doing business with you was the right decision, which leads to future success.