The proper onboarding of a new channel partner is essential to make sure that the relationship starts well, ramps quickly, and shows success within a short time. As you go through this process, it is wise to consider these three steps to make sure everyone has a good experience and learns how best to use your Partner Portal / Partner Relationship Management software in the process.
Now that the partner agreement has been signed, the official welcome is next on the list! Not only is it important to welcome the partner with a list of next steps but it is far more important to make sure they receive an executive welcome. Channel partners that have the full support of the vendor's executive team will feel more dedicated to the relationship. They want to make sure their input is valuable and will be taken seriously by your organization. They do have great market information that can be invaluable to any vendor. Having your executive team in close communication with the executive team at the partner will not only help align your organizations, but also provide that extra level of visibility and support necessary to make sure the partnership succeeds.
This "welcome" can be done in a number of different ways such as:
- A welcome letter from the executive team at your organization as part of the user access notification sent from your partner portal
- Note who the executives are and their contact information right on the homepage of your partner portal
- Executive site visits to the partner's offices (it is encouraged to do this on a regular basis)
- Specialized invitation to join an executive roundtable or partner council
Regardless of the type of approach you take to make sure your executives are engaged, make sure that your partners have easy access to them on a regular basis. Nothing says "fake" like having one engagement at the beginning and then never hearing from the vendor executive team again.
The next step in the process is to align your efforts through a business plan. The business plan should cover the following topics and agreed upon by both parties:
- Rules of Engagement - this will make sure that both parties are aware of how sales and marketing activities will happen in the field, which party should take the lead in any situation and how to manage conflict should that arise
- Sales and Marketing goals and programs - to set the stage on what both parties can expect from each other to drive the revenue needed
- Training goals - to ensure that the proper training is done and in a timely manner so that the partner gets up to speed quickly
Another important thing to remember about business plans is that they are living, breathing documents. They should be referred to on a regular basis so that both the vendor and the partner keep focused on the goals that were set up, adjust when necessary and manage any shortfalls. Channeltivity's business plan module allow you to do just this, by including the templated business plan within the portal that can be viewed by either party, at any time, you can ensure that the tools are in place to achieve your goals.
Proper and Timely Training
Once the partner is onboard, training and enabling those partners is of the utmost importance. The partner portal is a key tool to have in place. Within the partner portal, you should include the following components:
- A library of resources customized to the needs of that partner user. By having only appropriate content in the partner's view they will more likely go to the portal and access the resources when they need them without having to ask you daily.
- Announcements area where partners are alerted to the latest training resources, news, events, etc. to keep them abreast of what is happening within your organization and how they can best leverage you to meet their sales and marketing objectives.
- Easy access to online training materials or training systems. It is a good idea to also include certifications as part of these systems so partners can prove they have gone through the necessary steps to learn about your solutions.
Overall, a partner portal, or more precisely, Partner Relationship Management software, will make the onboarding process of your partners easy. It will not only help you manage and profile your partners but also provide your partners with the resources they need to be successful out of the gate...all in one place!