3 Tips on How Vendors Can Make their Investment in Partners Well Spent.
Channel partner loyalty programs and sales remain a cornerstone component to the success (or failure) of channel vendors.
From independent agents to value-added resellers, from distributions to system integrators—channel partners provide vendors with the ability to leverage their expertise and be introduced to a wave of new opportunities.
However, indirect sales funnel is a convoluted trade.
Between auditing back-end rebates, monitoring channel conflict, maintaining corporate identity and incentivizing partners via sales and marketing programs—it’s no surprise to see the low level of channel partner loyalty and why partners regularly opt-out of engagement with their vendor.
Maintaining the interest of partners from competing businesses also takes its toll; modification in end-customer demand, coupled with pricing undercutting and an ever-evolving global economy only exasperates things further.
How can vendors make their investment to partner with a business well spent?
Following are 3 tips on how to increase channel partner loyalty, and repel competing companies from stealing your valued partners:
1.) Help Your Partner Become Successful
Remember, your decision to sell through the channel isn’t just an internal investment, it also takes a toll on partners.
Expediting the onboarding process via automation and regularly updating your Partner Portal with training documents and information on incentive programs is a great start. Ultimately, however, you want to reassure your partners that the decision to sell your products was the right decision—and to do so quickly.
One of the best ways to assure partners and build channel partner loyalty is to help them be instantly successful. Fortunately, there are several ways you can do this.
- Show them the light at the end of the tunnel – No one knows your product as you do. Help your partners understand your end-customers by detailing best practice strategies for reaching and selling to your direct customers
- Competent channel manager – Designate a member of your internal team to become “channel medium” is an imperative part of a successful b2b relationship. This individual should be well-versed in (in)direct communication, strategy, consultation, and practice sound judgment.
- Eradicate the ‘one size fits all’ philosophy – Each channel partner is unique, which means each channel partner view incentives differently.
Remember the old expression, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Your sales and marketing programs should be flexible, taking into consideration the individual needs, pain points, and objectives of each channel partner.
2.) Implement Deal Registration as a Seamless Experience
For many vendors, deal registration is viewed as one of the most important instruments for motivating partners to sell their products.
For partners, deal registration is just as important, mitigating conflict from competing businesses, increasing margin levels on transactions, and protecting against price undercutting.
However, deploying deal registration effectively isn’t as simple as offering a 10%-15% discount on registered deals; it takes a careful, strategic approach in order to execute properly.
- Consultation and support – Vendor enables the partner to be successful and close registered deals through assisting in the negotiation process. The vendor needs to ask the partner if they need or want support.
- Flexible to extensions – Vendor occasionally allows the partner to extend the deadline because the deal is still undergoing its negotiation
- Rational parameters – Vendor doesn’t over-complicate qualification process and makes program guidelines easy-to-understand and detailed
- Prompt Notice – Vendor alerts partner whether he or she successfully registered the deal within a 24-hour window
- Monitor conflicts – Vendor follows through regarding the protection of partners with exclusive communication from other partners; vendor assures partner that direct sales team will not intervene during negotiations
3.) Design a Partner Portal that Attracts Engagement
Did you know that nearly every partnering company in today’s market will select a vendor only if they have access to a Partner Portal platform?
Vendors that opt out of using a Partner Portal put themselves at an immediate disadvantage; additionally, vendors with poorly designed, unresponsive, or rarely updated partner portal, put themselves in a similar unfortunate position.Partner Portals should be used as a channel partner loyalty tool and a “gateway” to collaboration, communication, and resources. Consider it as the digital intersection between you and your partner’s business, and it’s always undergoing “construction.”
Partners should be able to easily navigate through the portal’s interface, knowing exactly where to find the resources they need and the information they want.
Also, it’s important to note that partners do not engage with a portal that is not routinely updated.