The 2014 Channel Success Checklist – Part 1: Involve Your Partners

motivationPrograms can always be improved, more partners can be added, new ways to manage your partners and processes can be found and perhaps new people to help with that management…but what do you need to do to be truly successful with the channel in 2014?

In this multi-post blog, I will be exploring your options to make 2014 the best yet!  Let’s face it, the economy makes us think creatively and requires us to do things right the first time (and within budget!).  We all need new ideas and we hope that this series will get all of our creative minds thinking.  We encourage you to provide your comments as well so that it may spur others to get creative and truly challenge them going into the new year.  You know what they say: You can’t expect new results from the same activities!

Part 1: Involve Your Partners

How many truly involve our partners in the decisions that most affect them? Let’s start with the partner program…what is its purpose?  Most organizations I know realize that they just need a program but don’t pay much attention to it.  To put it dryly, a partner program in its most basic form provides an overview of the processes, benefits and requirements involved in working with channel partners as they sell a vendor’s solution set.  Often the vendor develops the program with their own interests in mind and with the belief that it is in the best interests of the partner…but is it really?

Going into 2014, review your partner program…WITH your partners!  Things to discuss are:

  • Does the program have the features and benefits that your partners want and need to help make their business more successful?
  • Does your solution provide your partners with reasons to go back to their existing customers with incentives to do so?
  • Do you offer ways to help them expand their business to new customers such as lead distribution (of good leads!) or marketing funds?
  • Are your business processes too cumbersome for your partners? Doe they align with your partner’s business practices?
  • Do you involve your partners in product roadmap discussions? They know what the market is actually looking for (they speak to your target customer each and every day).  Reward your partners for that information!  Make them feel included in product roadmap discussions and keep them involved in each step of the process.

When your partners are involved in the design and development of the partner program as well as the product direction, they will respond favorably.  They will help you make a program that other partners want to join making recruitment that much easier.  You can then honestly say to your partners (and prospective partners) that you have your partners’ goals and business requirements at the forefront.  When your partners can tell you that the program is working then you know it is!

In 2014, create ways to involve your partners on everything possible.  Things like Partner Councils can work wonders if you take your partners’ feedback to heart and act on it!  Beyond the more formal council approach, make sure your partner managers are asking how they can help their partners be more successful in general (not just with your product line).  In addition, changes to your partner program that include updated business processes that are more in-line with your partner’s business activities are key!

What are other ways you are planning to change things up in 2014? Leave us a comment below!

Next Up: Survey Says!  Partner Management: Ways to get it done!

In this blog, we will discuss the results of Channeltivity’s survey on Partner Management Best Practices and how organizations around the world are managing their partner programs.