In the last few years, there has been a huge shift in the partner community. This is largely due to changes in customer behaviors and demands.
The consumers of today anticipate end-to-end, integrated, tailored experiences and expect sellers to have a deep understanding of their desired business outcomes. On top of that, they are highly savvy and want to build on their existing product investments with the right technology, at the right time.
Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in an increased complexity in buyer journeys where there is an increased focus on customer experience (CX).
In short, buying and selling are no longer just transactional. The sales and marketing landscape today requires companies, partners, and customers to be interdependent and move towards win-win scenarios together.
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.
While there are various tactics for building a high-performing ecosystem, these are five things the best channel partner programs have in common.
1. They implement an ecosystem “flywheel”
Building an ecosystem flywheel enables businesses to build momentum for continuous innovation and growth.
In the channel, this flywheel revolves around creating delightful user experiences for customers, who then become partners and evangelists, which drives further acquisition of new customers.
This, in turn, generates more data, which allows for further finetuning of solutions and improvements in customer experience. This ultimately leads to increased customer acquisition, which enables further growth.
2. They prioritize trust and value
Companies with successful channel programs understand that partners have a wide variety of vendors to work with and software options to choose from. This is why they’ve prioritized trust and value.
Trust between an organization and its partners is key to developing strong relationships that will result in mutual benefit. However, this trust takes time to build and requires an organization to promote transparency and communicate value to its partners.
Ecosystems are also built on reciprocity. Companies with great partner programs look at how they can create more pathways to revenue for their partners. This can include providing support in the form of marketing and lead generation, as well as creating more streamlined deal registration processes.
3. They consider non-transactional channels
Traditional channel teams typically focus on only the transactional channel, with linear partner journeys and tiered partner levels that resemble pyramid schemes. In today’s landscape, this model of partnerships no longer has the same degree of effectiveness.
The modern channel manager understands that there are other channels beyond this traditional, transactional channel, and ensures that their partner program takes all these other non-transactional channels into account.
Jay McBain, who wrote about the “trifurcation of the channel” in 2020 foresees that the channel landscape will evolve further to include more channel and partner types. Users may be partners and vice versa – thus, it’s important not to keep these communities siloed.
4. They operate cross-functionally
In the past, it may have been enough to have the channel live purely in sales or marketing, or at times crossing both. However, the top channel leaders today recognize that for channel programs to be successful, they have to cross the entire enterprise.
A non-siloed channel program structure may be more complex, but it isn’t difficult to accomplish. However, it does require buy-in from all departments involved in the customer cycle.
The channel needs to be integrated throughout all these departments, which may include product, finance, and more.
5. They run on a great digital platform
Channel leaders who run successful partner programs know that delivering a great partner experience is essential. To do that, they need a tech solution that provides an optimized experience, with delightful UX and no friction in all parts of the process.
The ideal Partner Relationship Management (PRM) solution would also have powerful analytics and be able to collect and consolidate data for actionable business insights.
Other capabilities channel leaders look for in their PRM may include account mapping, co-marketing or through-channel marketing automation, content and incentive management features, learning and enablement resources, marketplaces, revenue attribution, and more.
Build a successful ecosystem with the right PRM
Your PRM solution is the engine that will drive your channel program to greater success, so it’s essential to pick the right one.
Ensure that your PRM is purpose-built for partner management and integrates seamlessly to your current tech stack, so you can constantly deliver great partner experiences.
Find out more about how Impartner PRM can help take your channel to the next level – request a demo.