No one sets out to intentionally build a channel full of lazy partners. Channel technology is implemented and processes efficiencies created, but we still have channel managers manually doing things for partners. Why? We aren’t teaching partners to fish!
We are all familiar with the adage: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
A recent Channeltivity customer success call revealed something interesting. The channel leader spoke about their great portal usage, happy partners, and hitting targets. When asked about the success with partner engagement levels he said, “Partners started using the portal when we stopped answering phone calls.” He may not have realized it, but he was teaching his partners to fish.
We’re not suggesting you stop personal interaction with your channel partners. As we discuss in our ebook, “5 Keys to Building Strong Relationships in Channel Marketing”, it’s about finding the right balance when communicating so those interactions can be more effective at building your relationship and moving it forward.
How do we teach our partners to fish?
- Make expectations clear – you have spent time and money investing in channel technology to streamline your partner program. Do your partners know what is expected of them? Do they know your portal exists? Do they know how, when and why to use it? Your portal should be used to enable your partners to get the information they need, and deliver the information that you need.
- Hold everyone to the expectations – Partners and internal channel managers need to be held to the expectations. If opportunities are supposed to be submitted via the portal and content is found in the portal, then partners should follow the process. Channel managers should also, by directing partners to the portal versus sending emails or manually entering their deals. Everyone should use the systems you have put in place!
- Communicate – With your expectations set, make sure everyone (internal and external) know what is going on in your program. Communicate the benefits and the requirements frequently with your partners and make sure internal channel managers are trained to follow the process.
- Provide the right tools – Partners need knowledge on your products and services to be successful selling. Make sure that your portal provides partners relevant content, proper training, and clear processes. By having that data in your portal, your team can then use that information to see trends and know when personal interactions will be most beneficial.
Teaching your partners to fish will allow you to optimize the time you spend with your partners by focusing it on revenue-generating activities. Let partners use their self-service access to get the sales tools and resources they need. Time is valuable, so use it wisely by equipping your partners with the tools they need, when they need them.