Sales and marketing teams are evolving their strategies to keep up with changing customer behaviors, and the channel is a critical part of this evolution. According to McKinsey, ecosystems are expected to drive about $80 trillion in annual revenue by 2030 – that’s a third of the total global revenue!
To be successful, a channel needs to evolve from operating as a traditional partner program to performing as a partner ecosystem. This means – among other things – more interaction between a business and its partners, as well as a more seamless and integrated partner experience from start to end. What’s key here is that in a successful partner ecosystem, everyone wins.
As a channel leader, it is essential to ensure partners see value in your channel and continue to stay engaged. Here are seven things that highly successful channel partner programs practice.
1. Setting clear goals & KPIs
If you don’t set any goals, how will you know whether you and your partners are winning? This is why setting goals and laying out key performance indicators is something a successful channel program will do from the outset. You can only create a framework for measuring success once you have defined your goals and objectives.
This framework not only helps to set clear expectations for partners, but also makes it easy to track progress later on. You can determine if your partners are hitting targets and meeting business objectives through your channel. With clearer benchmarks, you can quickly step in to provide additional support or solve issues if they arise – before partners become unengaged.
Find out more: Check out the Channel Partner Onboarding Checklist to see what else to do when signing a new partner up into your channel program
2. Clear communications
Another key element channel partner programs should maintain to be successful is clear communication. This means personalizing your communications so that you’re sending the right information to the right people, at the right time – then making it easy for them to share that information with their own teams and customers.
These can include the latest product updates, brochures, use case documentation, and more. The goal here is to ensure that partners have everything they need to sell, consolidated in a location they can access quickly. Having this structure and accessible documentation also means that they can easily scale up whenever they want to – which is also a win for you.
Learn more: See how Siemens Digital Industries Software doubled their partner engagement with Impartner News on Demand.
3. Easy applications, sophisticated review
For your channel to be successful, it’s crucial that you recruit the best partners to your channel. One way to do this is by targeting the right segments of prospective partners and communicating to them with the right messaging.
You can consider a nurture program or any other mode of communication that makes sense to your target group, but once they decide to sign up, make sure it’s easy for them to apply. The review process is where you can get more sophisticated and carefully select your authorized partners.
Learn more: Find out how you can use Impartner’s To-Partner Marketing to automate nurture campaigns targeting your prospective partners.
4. Transparency in incentive distribution
The best partner programs have transparency built into their processes. One of the most straightforward ways to do this is by setting up tier structures, then plainly spelling out necessary information such as levels of access, benefits, and progress of rewards.
This ensures that partners are clear on how incentives are distributed, what benefits they can expect to receive, and how they can work towards larger success. This can also help prevent misunderstandings and any ill feelings that may develop in a less transparent program.
Find out more: Learn how to easily manage and communicate your channel’s program compliance to partners and stakeholders.
5. More efficient use of co-investments
Market development funds (MDFs) are powerful, but only when used properly and not left to waste. More recently, experts have suggested that there are even more effective avenues for co-investing – specifically in collaborative innovation.
According to Accenture, ability to innovate is the top priority for partners when deciding on a provider to work with. Rather than co-investing in the traditional MDFs, successful programs are keeping up by channeling funds into innovation development. These efforts generate higher return on investment and can contribute to more successful long-term partnerships.
6. Regular reviews and optimizations
Regular reviews and optimizations are important for successful channel partner programs – and data is a necessary component for this. If you have powerful analytics that can provide data from your channel, your partners are in a better position to discover additional insights about their target audience.
They can then craft more effective messaging that is relevant and resonates with their audience. They can also use the data to gain a better idea of what’s working and which of their actions are driving revenue – then double down in those areas.
Learn more: Find out how you can use Channel Intel+ to help partners gain success and accelerate mutual channel revenue.
7. Leveraging automation
If you’re doing everything manually, you’re going to find it extremely challenging to successfully scale your channel. By automating time-consuming manual processes, you reduce the amount of effort and cost required to run your program. Besides helping you do more – with less effort and cost – automation can also help prevent mistakes that may occur if you’re simply relying on spreadsheets to manage your program.
Through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) can also streamline and simplify processes for your partners, making it that much easier for them to sell and grow their revenue. Successful channels have found methods to automate demand generation, so all partners have to do is click a button to get started.
Find out more: See how you can automate demand gen with Impartner TCMA.