Few aspects of indirect sales models are more crucial than achieving and maintaining high levels of partner engagement. Simply getting new partners into your channel is only the first step. The long haul is keeping them onboard, enthusiastic, and continually looking to promote your product - even above other products they might offer from the competition.
Anything you can do to make partners feel more supported, and make their jobs easier, will go far in maintaining this level of engagement. We have compiled a few guidelines that can help you readily achieve these goals.
Make it clear that you're are a partnership.
One of the biggest fears we find among channel partners is not competition with each other, but rather being in competition with the vendor themselves. It's usually the root cause of channel conflict and can easily deter your partners from working hard to promote your brand. So one of the best things you can do to allay those fears is to make it 100% iron-clad that you have systems and processes in place to eliminate channel conflict. Your goal should be to provide the targeted sales support your partners need to close more business, with the help of your direct sales team as needed.
Have a code of conduct, with stated rules of engagement.
Another way to ensure the playing field among your vendors - and your own direct sales team - is relatively level is to have a written-out code of conduct, detailing what sales and marketing staff are and aren't allowed to do when pursuing leads. Having such a code in writing is further assurance that your internal staff is dedicated to supporting them as a team effort.
Your lead management strategy should outline the process for approving deals that are registered at the partner level with clear guidelines for periods of exclusivity and/or special pricing structures to incentivize compliance.
Support partners to expand their service offerings.
Are your partners providing technical assistance? Warranty support? Post-sale upgrade pushes?
If not, why?
Offering additional services is often one of the best ways for vendors to increase their own profit margins, while decreasing your own overhead. It's hard for you to make money off things like warranty support, but partners can easily profit off extended service plans and similar post-sale options. In turn, this stregnthens their relationship with customers, while still allowing you to focus primarily on your core business and product development. In order to do so, you may need to provide direct lines of support to your technical team or provide access to additional training. Talk to your partners about what they need, and work with them to achieve that.
Maintain open communications channels.
Another great way to keep your partners feeling supported is one of the most simple steps of all: make sure there are clear lines of communication and that they have relevant information about updates to your plans and business objectives.
This is another area where PRM can be a big help. A central repository for news and other vital documents, coupled with direct-contact methods and notifications, will ensure every partner feels they're up to speed on your business and your product.s
Bring top partners along for customer events.
Share the love! This is a great opportunity for rewarding your top partners. When you're attending industry trade shows or announcing new products, don't go it alone. Invite your top partners to share the stage with you, while making it clear that they are the go-to people for sales and support.
Regardless of how much real-world difference this makes in terms of their sales, it's a great symbolic gesture. Sharing the stage let's them know you're serious about helping them build their business too.
LogicBay has years of experience helping vendors and partners achieve greatness. Our Partner Relationship Management software -now recently updated to Version 10- is configurable to meet the challenges of today's channel program.
Contact us today for a free customized demo showing how much LogicBay can do for you! If you are more interested in evaluting your own plans for channel success, we can help there too. Take a look at our Channel Program Blueprint Self-Assessment tool: