According to Forrester, the changes in buyer needs and habits have inevitably resulted in a shift in the channel partner landscape. Not only are partner business models changing, but there is also increasing competition for partner mindshare. Partners today are selling a range of products – and even if they have partnered with you, you are unlikely to be the only vendor they are working with.
To adapt to these changes and maintain a competitive edge, a channel leader will need to stay on top of their strategy, systems, and processes, ultimately ensuring that they continue to deliver an exceptional partner experience.
You may have a superior product, but if your partners don’t feel like they are benefitting from the partnership, they are unlikely to stick around for long. Thus, the partner onboarding process is one of the biggest opportunities you have to set the tone for a successful relationship with partners.
Not sure if you’re doing everything you should to create a superior onboarding process for new partners? Here’s a channel partner onboarding checklist you can use to make sure you’re doing everything possible to set your partners up for success.
1. Conduct a needs assessment
The best onboarding process starts even before a partner signs on. If you have the capacity for it, assessing a partner’s needs and goals can be key to helping you understand what they are hoping to achieve from the relationship. A needs assessment will ensure you know what their focus is, and whether it is aligned with your business goals.
If you have huge amounts of partners, it may be impractical to run this with each partner. However, if you are able to use another method to obtain some preliminary information during their signup process, you can then segment partners into the right groups and start personalizing their journeys from even before they log into your partner platform for the first time.
2. Prepare a comprehensive welcome package
This means that you can make a good first impression from the get-go. Use the information you have to prepare a comprehensive welcome package that includes everything a partner needs to get started quickly.
A good practice would be to have a standard welcome package that every partner gets – and when required, you can customize from there. Some of the things that you can include in your standard welcome package are instructions for how to use your platform, relevant product guides, partner success contact details, and more.
Learn more: Read Partner Onboarding Best Practices for a Successful Channel Program to get more tips for partner onboarding.
3. Schedule a kick-off call
Introductory calls are an important part of onboarding new partners and is yet another chance to show partners that they are a valuable part of your business. Walking partners through your platform and letting them see it in action allows them to get comfortable with it faster, which means they’ll also be able to start selling faster.
Doing a walk-through also gives you the opportunity to check-in and see if they need further customizations, show them where to find product information and other materials, as well as answer any questions they might have.
Learn more: Use a partner relationship management solution to help you automate this process. Your partners can learn how to use your platform faster, without having to sit through a call.
4. Provide details on your incentive program
You may want to provide details on your incentive programs on the kick-off call and/or include it in the welcome package – or perhaps within your partner platform, but no matter where you’ve put the information, what’s key is that your partners are in-the-know and have ready access to it.
If you want partners to be active on your platform in the beginning, you may also want to include incentives for achieving onboarding milestones. This can be a motivator for them to learn how to navigate your platform and ultimately, stay more engaged.
5. Provide access to training materials
Your partner platform should also have easily accessible information and resources that will help partners learn about your company and products. When armed with more comprehensive details on your product, your partners will also be able to communicate with customers better and ultimately, be able to sell more. This translates to higher engagement with your product and increased partner loyalty.
Find out more: Use Impartner’s Training & Certification features to full customize and personalize training programs for each partner.
6. Give access to all required marketing materials
Provide your partners with all the resources they need to start selling right away. This includes access to marketing collateral, content templates, creative assets, and other information about your company and products.
Making it easy for partners to start selling – and earning – from the start means they will immediately see the value of signing on to your channel program. An easy and seamless way to do this is by setting up a content library, where your partners can immediately access co-branded collateral. This way, your partners can start sending out information and you can be sure that all of it will be on-brand.
7. Communicate a clear path of success
Setting expectations and communicating them to partners can sometimes be tricky, but it’s important to do it at the start so as to ensure a successful long-term relationship.
In some cases, this should take place even before the partner signs up. Your communication to partners can include information on how they can move up to the next tier bracket, ways to claim market development funds, as well as how these benefits can help ensure their success.
Tip: Use Impartner’s Program Compliance Manager to easily segment partners into tiers and keep track of performance without manual administrative work.
8. Inspire confidence with lead management
When your partners are ready, start channeling leads to them. By providing leads, you’re showing partners that you’re interested in helping them succeed. This can help you prove that you have the ability to provide value and will increase partner engagement with your business.
Find out more: Use Impartners Partner Locator to easily connect high-intent leads directly to partners. Make sure to communicate clearly how partner locator and seamless deal registration will funnel leads to them and assure that they receive credit for their hard work.
9. Make a note to follow-up regularly
Partner onboarding is not a once and done thing. You will need to continue checking in with your partners to see how they are performing, and how being a part of your channel program can assist them in growing their business further.
This is all part of ensuring a superior partner experience within your channel ecosystem, which can lead to greater trust, loyalty, and ultimately, a long-term working relationship that helps you increase sales.
Tip: Level up your analytics so you can keep track of partner performance. Read 8 Ways Channel Sales Analytics Can Help Increase Your ROI to find out more.
10. Automate your onboarding process
A great partner onboarding is key to increasing revenue from your channel program, but it can be a complicated process involving spreadsheets and manual task management. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be so challenging – having the right tools can make all the difference.
Case in point: Businesses that use Impartner’s partner relationship management (PRM) solution have reported up to 32.3% increase in sales within the first year alone.
An easier way to manage partner onboarding
Impartner PRM is designed to help you customize, personalize and automate all parts of the partner journey – right from the beginning.