Channel partners are invaluable to selling your products and services. When you strengthen channel partner relationships, it increases your ability to reach more customers and build better revenue streams. One of the best ways to fortify associate relations is by encouraging and improving partner engagement through efficient partner management.
Partner management is about connecting the dots between partner recruitment, onboarding, and incentives. It empowers channel partners to focus on high-value customers and build second-tier markets not typically on your radar. When developing a partner management solution, concentrate on:
- Improving communications
- Simplifying business processes
- Promoting partner success
These five partner management strategies will help you create frictionless partner relationships that lead to channel success.
5 Channel Partner Relationship Management Strategies to Bank On
Partnership relationship management uses a combination of best practices, methodologies, workflows, and partnership management software to automate business processes and relationships between organizations and their channel partners.
It takes time, effort, and strategic planning to create a successful channel partnership program, but done right it can elevate your sales to legendary levels. Because successful partnerships don’t just happen, here’s how to manage your channel partners effectively.
1. Understand Who Your Channel Partners Are
In life or business, all good partnerships are based on knowing and understanding our partner’s strengths and weaknesses. Before developing a channel support program, learn about how a partner operates, including how they represent their clients and how they differentiate themselves in the markets they sell into.
The more you understand what drives a partner, the better you can determine how your products and services fit into their process. For instance, will your solution be one of their primary offerings or an add-on? Make it a point to learn about your partner’s workflow and internal business processes, too, so you can work with them to align your shared business goals.
2. Simplify Lead Management
Nearly 90% of top-performing salespeople say qualified leads are essential for channel partners. When you take steps to align messaging, reduce partner overhead, and foster accountability, you make it easier for your partners to sell your products. Today’s advanced technologies help you:
- Optimize lead tracking.
- Creative visibility into every aspect of lead management.
- Share information about customer needs, onboarding, pricing, contract terms, and more.
- Collaborate on sales activities and customer support.
Making the journey from lead distribution to conversion more straightforward helps partners better manage the sales process, track progress, and increase close rates.
3. Manage Channels By the Numbers
Though it’s tempting to use a scattershot approach to obtaining new customers, successful channel partnerships focus on quality over quantity. Trying to bring on too many partners can result in channel conflicts, overdistribution, and contractual disputes. Eventually, you’ll find yourself with unhappy and unproductive partners.
Before forming a partnership, determine which channel strategy will be most effective in helping you reach your sales goals. Ask yourself:
- How many products or services do you need to put into the channel?
- How many transacting partners do you need to reach your quota?
Companies are frequently surprised to find that they only need a handful of solid partners to achieve their goals. Just be sure to consistently monitor and measure partner performance so you can eliminate underperformers and bring on new, higher-achieving partners.
4. Provide Comprehensive B2B Partner Onboarding
Channel partner onboarding is essential to selling your B2B products and services. A good channel partner onboarding process sets the ground rules for your partner relationship and is a long-term operation that goes beyond other onboarding methods. It typically includes:
- Business planning
- Sales training
- Technical training
- Systems integration, if needed
- Marketing support
- Lead generation
- Initial wins
Your channel partners need all the training and information you have to offer if they’re to be successful in selling your solutions.
You can help by:
- Establishing well-defined rules of engagement.
- Creating a catalog of training videos, datasheets, manuals, and support materials.
- Putting a program in place for new product orientation.
- Providing training in tactics like competitive positioning, including market differentiators, pricing, and sales pitches.
Some businesses motivate partners by offering them certifications, which partners see as proof the company is invested in their growth. Plus, customers tend to trust “certified” partners (think Microsoft and Apple partners), making certification a win-win for you and your partners.
5. Let Data Drive Decision-Making
Concrete data should always drive channel partner decision-making. A formalized scoring process reveals a partner’s strengths and weaknesses in an objective and data-driven way.
Partner relationship management technology helps you track and monitor channel activity, giving you and your partners the necessary data for making intelligent business decisions.
You can use it to:
- Track opportunities
- Create more accurate forecasts
- Obtain customer transaction histories
- Monitor performance metrics
- Generate real-time reports that show you what is and isn’t working regarding lead generation and nurturing.
- Capture idea submissions that could improve marketing and sales initiatives.
Partner relationship management is a collaborative process; the more support you give to your channel partners, the more successful they will be.
Help Partners Better Manage Their Businesses
Better partner management success leads to greater sales. It can also help you close deals faster, stay aware of industry trends, and introduce new initiatives that bring in more qualified leads.
EverAfter is a customer-centric partner management platform that takes an agile approach to managing your partners. It lets you adjust, change, and improve your offerings without depending on your R&D team while helping you create long-term partner loyalty.
If you want to strengthen your channel partner relationships and sell more effectively, investing in an automated solution can be just what you’re looking for. EverAfter’s customer-facing portals are designed for your entire customer success team, including operations leaders, customer success managers, customer marketing leads, and customer success leaders.