How Loyal Are My Partners, and How Do I Know?

Loyal partners lead with your products and solutions, and can successfully win over the competition. Today’s partner landscape is ever changing as more and more companies recognize the opportunity an indirect channel offers. The new reality is that today’s channel partners are free agents representing more solutions than ever before. With the competition for your partner’s mindshare increasing how can you stay top of mind? You can probably identify your top partners, but what is going on with the rest? These 4 tips will help you better understand your partner and their loyalty to your offering:

  1. Know your partners

    The first step in understanding your partners is knowing who actually makes up your program. Who are your partners and what do they look like? When was the last time you looked at all that partner profile data you have been gathering? What does your partner profile data tell you about your program? If you don’t have the necessary profile data, get it! Key information could include: primary business model, products/solutions sold, other programs they are a part of, and anything else that would be crucial to your unique program. This detail will help you understand who your partners are and what they care about. The data will also indicate how much they care about your offering and if you are aligned to the things that are important to them.

  2. Put yourself in your partners’ shoes

    Think like a partner. How easy are you to do business with? Do your partners have to jump through fiery hoops to work with you? Is your program stuck in the 90’s or have you adjusted to the changing market? Your partners do business with companies that are easy to do business with and have solid solutions that fit their business goals. Knowing your partners will help you align your program to the things that they care about and help them accomplish their business goals. If you don’t know what your partners care about, ask them!

  3. Look at the data

    It is likely that you have some technology in place to manage your partner program. If you don’t, get it! Engaged partners are loyal partners. The data collected from your technology platform or partner relationship management (PRM) system will provide you critical data around partner engagement. How are your partners engaging with you? Are they leveraging the things you are providing? If your content, training or program elements are not being utilized, change them. Do you know who you are recruiting and are you retaining new partners as well as existing partners? Analyzing these details should be a quarterly activity with action items to increase your stickiness.

  4. Incentivize more than money

    Now more than ever, solution decisions are being made at the partner-rep level. While incentivizing partner sales reps can be tricky, it is key to align your incentive programs with the results you want to obtain. Things to consider are: rep training, lead/opp registration and closure, joint marketing efforts, and rep engagement. Consider gamifying these pieces and any others that may be crucial for your program success. Successful gamification will make it rewarding and transparent for the rep and manageable for you.

    With the channel landscape morphing, it is time to take a look at where your program is and make the changes to set the table for success in 2016 and beyond. If you do the same things, you will yield the same results. If you want loyal partners, make sure your program is inline with their business goals.

This post by Raegan Wilson, Chief Channel Officer, Channel Squared Consulting, was recently published in our new eBook,The Top 10 Things Making Channel Chiefs into Insomniacs, and What to do About It. In creating this guide for Channel Chiefs, we tapped our network of top channel strategists to provide thoughtful, meaty, practical advice on Chiefs' key questions about the market today. Click here to down full eBook for recommendations that will help you transform your channel operations, accelerate your indirect sales — and sleep peacefully.

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