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.
Onboarding 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 the process
One of the biggest mistakes companies can make with onboarding partners is not getting specific about who owns the process. Onboarding is something that requires explicit instruction, yet many companies make things too complicated. In most cases, one person is there to help the partner’s sales team, another will deal with their marketers, another for their IT group, etc. It's best to put someone in charge that will dedicate all the time necessary 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 (PRM) 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 simpler and shows your partners that you are easy to do business with.
3. Prepare early
Long before your partners are 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 the implementation process, even if it just means finding out more about their internal operations. Onboarding has never suffered because of early preparation.
4. Continue ongoing communication
Ongoing communication will be essential to a productive partnership long after onboarding is successful. However, by using relationship management software, it’s possible that your company may be walking away from the process too early from having confidence that everything will go smoothly. The best software platforms deliver the greatest benefits through continued, consistent communication and active participation.
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.