If you have an indirect sales channel, you are probably well-aware that while they provide countless benefits, they come with their own set of challenges as well. One of the biggest challenges that our customers face is onboarding—the process of bringing on new partners.
This can be a huge sticking point that greatly affects your company’s ability to partner with businesses effectively and get them up to speed selling your products in a timely manner. Fortunately, the following tips are easy to implement and should provide immediate results for your onboarding process.
1. Make Sure Someone Owns This Process
One of the biggest mistakes companies can make with onboarding partners is not getting specific about who owns the process. Like all forms of Partner Relationship Management, onboarding is something that requires explicit instruction. Yet many companies make things too complicated: one person is to help the partner’s sales team, another will deal with their marketers, another for their IT group, etc. These individuals then have no one they’re responsible for reporting to.
Instead, put someone in charge and ensure that they are able to dedicate all the time it will take to handle this process correctly.
2. Use Software
It’s becoming more and more common for companies to utilize software specifically for partner relationship management purposes. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this is that PRM software does such a good job of onboarding new partners. You can use the software to enable workflows that are specific to your business requirements. Your partners will have access to the documents that they need at each step along the way and you will have oversight into where they stand and what still needs to be completed. This makes the job of any Channel Manager much easier and shows your partners that you are dedicated to being easy to do business with.
3. Start Early
Long before the official date of your partnership, when your partner is expected to begin helping with marketing and/or sales, you should be working with them to ensure they are ready to hit the ground running. It is never too early to begin starting the implementation process, even if it just means finding out more about their internal operations. Onboarding has never suffered because of early legwork.
Another way to look at this advice is by ensuring that those who are in charge of this process are constantly staying familiar with it throughout the year, regardless of how many partners you regularly bring on. You don’t want to be delayed because staff isn’t properly familiar with how this process works.
4. Never Stop Communicating
Ongoing communication will be essential to a productive partnership long after onboarding is successful. However, if you’re using relationship management software, it’s entirely possible that you’ve come to think you have a turnkey solution. Your company may be offering it up and then walking away from the process, confident that everything will go smoothly.
This can set a bad tone for the ongoing relationship you’ll be having together and almost guarantees things will take longer than necessary. Even the best software platforms only deliver the greatest benefits through active participation so it is incumbent on your team to have an understanding of its capabilities and be able to communicate those to your partners.
5. Learn from Past Mistakes
After onboarding a new partner, you should walk away with at least one or two lessons about how to do it better the next time. While perfection is always the goal, these lessons are a great way to improve on such an important part of your company’s operations. All parties involved on your side should sit down and brainstorm ways things could go better next time.
Onboarding a partner will usually involve a surprise or two, but this doesn’t have to spell disaster. Utilize the above 5 tips and your onboarding process will lead to more profitable partnerships.