Look at Partner Programs Differently to Drive More Demand

Though our Boulder, CO office received 16″ of snow yesterday, spring is literally right around the corner. In fact, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow in February — so (fingers crossed) spring is coming earlier than expected. With it comes sunshine, longer days and of course the best task of all: spring-cleaning… but wait. It’s not what you think. We’re not talking about your closets, basement or backyard; we’re talking about spring-cleaning your Partner Program!

Use it or lose it

While some Vendors think inactive or underactive Channel Partners are a non-issue, they should think twice about that point of view. At the end of the day, those Partners are the ones draining your time and resources — and for what purpose? Plus, if they are truly disengaged, chances are they are leading with another Vendor’s solutions, so why give them access to your resources and other benefits?

The spring-cleaning general rule is: if you haven’t used it in a year, give it or toss it. The same is true for Channel Partners. Those who haven’t been active in over a year need to be contacted to find out why and to assess if reactivating them makes sense. Start by giving them a set amount of time to reengage. Six months usually does the trick. Have them demonstrate their reengagement by obtaining a certification, registering a deal, creating a business plan or all three.

Clear the clutter

We all know the nature of the content beast. It expands over time and has a shelf life of a Twinkie.

Unfortunately, old and outdated resources are about as useful and good for you as a Twinkie too.

We can’t get away from content, at least for now, it is still king and Vendors supply it to Channel Partners. All that content lives somewhere. It’s in your portal, marketing automation platform, resource library or other data receptacle.

Spring-cleaning content means verifying its relevance and then refreshing the information or disposing of it will help your data storage systems remain lean and make it easier to find content that helps your Partners drive demand. As an added bonus, getting rid of old content reduces Partners’ time spent sorting and hunting for the piece they need and the last thing you want is to force Partners to sift through outdated content.

Polish your user experience

Your Partners are technology companies. While not all of them understand user experience, many of them are professionals at curating and building excellent user interfaces and experiences (UI/UX). Either way, every humans react to a bad user interfaces similarly…they leave and go on to the next site. Your “Partner Experience” is the equivalent of a UX and it’s time to step back and review.

In order to analyze the Partner Experience, think about it from their point of view. Go through all Partner-facing resources, sell-sheets, portals, platforms, incentives, communications, etc. Look at them critically. Imagine being your Partner. Then, decide accordingly. Which aspects need to be more user-friendly? Which pieces of content can benefit from a refresh? How about portal functionality? If you were in their shoes, would you be a happy and productive Partner, getting up in the morning excited to sell your solutions?

New year — new message

If you haven’t already done so, think about how you’re communicating with your Partners. Download our eBook: communicating to Partners without Bombarding and review your communication plan’s analytics. What should you do differently?

Haven’t added a social media component? It’s beyond time to get started. Are your executives blogging yet? Doing so cuts back on Partner-facing emails since they have a central place to self-serve updates and important information. While you’re at it, be sure to update Partners’ information to ensure you’re sending communications to the correct email and referring to their most current roles.

Looking for more ways to engage your Channel Partners? Our 4-Minute Pocket Guide: Help Channel Partners Drive Demand Through Social Media can help!

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Originally published at channelmavenconsulting.com on March 24, 2016.