Partner Enablement Program Design in 8 Steps

Updated April 22, 2024
Published in Channel Management, Partner Lifecycle

So, how do you enable a new partner that just joined your program?

While you’re celebrating and dreaming about the new deals that will be flowing in soon, your new partner is thinking, “Now what?”

While they’ve likely read a bit about your products and services online, that information alone isn’t going to make them an amazing reseller, nor a great reflection of your brand. To become an excellent channel partner, they need a lot more guidance. 

The best way to provide this guidance to new partners is by having a formal partner enablement program that can help explain how your partner program works, what your vision is for the partnership, your product’s benefits, and your GTM plan — at scale.

But designing an effective channel partner enablement program is easier said than done. Below, we lay out eight steps to get you there.

What is a Partner Enablement Program?

First, a little context. A partner enablement program is a set of tools, training, and resources that empower your partners to market and sell your products or services. An excellent partner enablement program gets partners up to speed quickly, driving revenue growth for both parties.

And because everyone learns differently, “enablement” can come in many forms. Channel partner enablement may include onboarding, training, and continuous learning activities like:

  • Training partners on product features and common sales motions
  • Creating and distributing new sales and marketing materials 
  • Offering partners a dashboard to track mutual KPIs
  • Providing dedicated partner support

Giving your partners multiple opportunities to elevate their knowledge and skills will help them present a strong partnership and value proposition to prospects. Partner enablement programs can also increase your marketing reach, boost your brand reputation, and cultivate partner loyalty.

8 Steps to Create a Modern Partner Enablement Program

There are many ways to establish a partner enablement program, but these eight steps set companies (and their partners) up for success.

1. Define the Goals and Objectives of Your Partner Enablement Program

As with any project, it’s critical to spell out your goals. Think hard about what you’re trying to get out of your program. Is it:

  • Improved customer satisfaction?
  • Brand awareness?
  • Increased sales?
  • Better partner retention?

Knowing the most important objectives can help you craft an enablement strategy aligned with your goals. With those in mind, jot down a list of KPIs you can use to track your progress.

These might evolve depending on the mediums you use, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Additional revenue growth
  • Sales and marketing material downloads
  • Course enrollment and completions
  • Partner retention rate

2. Assess Partner Needs

Next, ask yourself what information, materials, and training a partner would need to help you hit those goals.

  • Improved customer satisfaction → Teach partners about the problems your product or service solves and how to address common use cases
  • Brand awareness → Give partners marketing materials with key value props, enable them to create their own, and offer MDFs
  • Increased sales → Training would be critical, but you also need to make it super straightforward for partners to register a deal and understand the incentives for doing so
  • Better partner retention → Share different ways to get closing support, educate them on which niches or industries are easiest to sell to, spell out the requirements for and benefits of moving up in tier, make learning as easy and effective as possible

Keep in mind that you may be biased. You know what your company does and how they do it. So if you have an existing set of partners, ask them what they think. Conduct interviews to determine what is currently missing from their enablement.

Another source of inspiration may be your customer success program. Onboarding new customers is slightly different than onboarding partners, but not that different. Interacting with your CSMs and taking a critical look at their processes can give you some great ideas and maybe even some prebuilt resources.

3. Create a Welcome Package to Your Partner Enablement Program

When partners sign up, make an extra effort to welcome them to the program. A good way to do that is with a welcome kit that includes:

  • Information about your company
  • Information about the partner program (referral bonuses, tiering, certification requirements, etc.)
  • How to contact their partner manager
  • A link to a prebuilt dashboard in your partner portal
  • A link to your training materials

Your goal should be to avoid the “Now what?” question. Instead, partners should know what to do next and how to get acquainted with your product, program, and systems.

welcome to the partner enablement program

Most people send a welcome kit via email, but you could send it through snail mail. If you want to add extra flair to your kit, consider sending them a small branded gift. Not only will this be a nice surprise, it’ll also be another way to promote your company.

4. Develop a Learning Curriculum for Your Partner Enablement Program

Virtually every partner enablement program needs an in-depth learning experience.  To start, go back to Step 2 and review your assessment of partner needs. What kind of curriculum would best support your partners?

Most partner programs emphasize product knowledge, sales techniques, and customer support processes. Some tech companies even require their partners to get certified in their products as part of their tiering structure. Here are some ideas of what to include in your curriculum:

  • Company overview (including messaging)
  • Ideal customer profiles and their main pain points
  • Product demos
  • Current GTM strategies and sales best practices
  • Exams to test product and sales knowledge
  • Industry insights 
  • Compliance training

Remember to give people a call to action at the end of each lesson to boost engagement and information retention. And regardless of your content, make sure your curriculum follows a logical, intuitive progression.

partner enablement program learning curriculum

5. Choose Your Delivery Methods and Mediums

The way you deliver information matters. Pick a variety of mediums and methods to give partners multiple ways to learn. Some ideas for the types of content you could create:

  • Instructional videos
  • Interactive demos
  • Slide decks
  • Guides for using a sandbox environment
  • A collection of one-pagers, case studies, and thought leadership content optimized for co-branding
  • Sample email campaigns
  • Quizzes and tests
  • Sales scripts

Whatever method you choose should be easy for partners to access and use and designed to meet the learning preferences of your partners. Some self-service PRMs like Channeltivity have built-in resource library and training and certification modules to provide a seamless partner enablement experience via a partner portal.

And remember to focus on scalability. Meeting with every single partner one-on-one for a workshop takes time and effort that most partner teams don’t have. Online, self-service learning and development programs free up your time and allow partners to learn when it’s most convenient for them.

6. Do a Beta Launch

If there’s a way to do a soft launch of your partner enablement program, do it.

Make a list of partners you trust to give honest feedback and ask them to run through your program (or even just parts of it). They’ll be eager to get their hands on it and will likely find some bugs you can remove before launching the program publicly.

They may also give you some wonderful tips to make your enablement better. For example, maybe they prefer certain mediums (i.e. videos vs. slides), or perhaps they’ll suggest a method of delivery that you didn’t think about.

Lastly, a beta launch also helps you determine what KPIs you can and should track and ensures they match the goals you set in Step 1.

7. Invest Time Into Your Launch

Your partner enablement program won’t market itself, so you need to ensure partners know about it and actually use it.

Encourage all of your partner managers to send an announcement email and bring up your new enablement program in any meetings with prospective and existing partners.

You could also write an announcement blog post or press release and spotlight it in your newsletter if your partners already subscribe.

Find ways to remind partners about the enablement program as well. You could do this by putting a front-page announcement in your portal or using native modules like to-partner emails to drive engagement.

8. Create a Strategy for Continuous Updates

Here’s the thing about a partner enablement program: you can’t set it and forget it. Products, services, and GTM motions change, and your program needs to be responsive to those changes.

Regularly evaluate your partner enablement program and make changes as necessary to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the partner network and achieve the desired results. Try setting up a monthly or quarterly session to review your program and KPIs:

  • What has changed about our product, and what content needs to be refreshed?
  • Have any aspects of our partner program changed?
  • Has our company’s overall messaging changed?
  • What feedback have we received from partners?
  • How are partners performing?
  • Where are we missing content?
  • What topics get the most engagement?
  • Is there a specific medium partners tend to use more or less consistently?

Write down the improvements you want to make and create a plan and deadlines for implementing them. If you can’t come up with enough ways to revamp your channel enablement program on your own, ask your partners for tangible feedback through a survey. You might even offer a small gift card for participating.

Build Your Partner Enablement Program Today

By following these steps, companies can design an effective channel partner enablement program that provides partners with the training, resources, and tools they need to sell and support the company’s products effectively. This can lead to increased revenue, improved customer satisfaction, and stronger, more productive relationships with partners.

The good news is that you don’t have the time to spend enabling partners one-on-one. Channeltivity’s partner portal gives you the tools you need to:

  • Establish clear criteria for joining your channel partner program
  • Thoroughly train your partners on your product and go-to-market strategy 
  • Test your partners’ knowledge and provide certifications that build recognized expertise and confidence
  • Boost engagement with automated portal notifications, reminders, and emails
  • Implement joint business planning to create alignment and accountability

Curious about what else Channeltivity can do for your partner program? Schedule a demo today.


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