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5 Ways to Improve Partner Transparency to Drive Success

In today's competitive business environment, effective partner management is more important than ever. Being open and transparent with your partners about your incentive structures, data, and more plays a crucial role in building strong and mutually beneficial partnerships. Partner transparency fosters trust, collaboration, and meaningful engagement, enabling both vendors and partners to achieve their goals and maximize their ROI.  

We recently hosted a MasterClass webinar with Is Inspired on their best practices for building partner transparency. You can catch the full recording below, but we've built a summary of the top tips and insights from our discussion. By implementing these tips, partner management leaders can offer true transparency in tiering and data sharing, creating a stronger foundation of trust and collaboration with their partners. Let's get started.  

Why is transparency important in business partnerships? 

A global survey found that 60% of the channel professionals who responded to the survey said they lacked confidence that their partners were tiered correctly. And 78% of those that lacked confidence in tiering accuracy said they may have been mistakenly overpaying their partners by up to 20%!  

Obviously, putting the right spend towards your partner tiers is one of the first and most important benefits of building a transparent program. Transparency ensures that both partners have a clear understanding of expectations, goals, and the overall program framework. And, when partners have visibility into their performance, program status, and progression, they can feel empowered and motivated to more actively participate and contribute to the partnership's success. On the other hand, a lack of transparency can lead to confusion, frustration, and disengagement. 

Put simply, without transparency, your organization won't be at the top of their list when it comes to recommending solutions to customers.  

Transparency not only benefits partners but also enables your team to make informed decisions, identify areas for improvement, and allocate resources effectively. It promotes accountability, as partners can track their progress and assess their performance against the defined criteria.  

Transparent tiering systems provide a roadmap for partners to advance within your program, unlocking additional benefits and incentives along the way. 

Best practices for building partner transparency  

Building a transparent program takes time, but use the following best practices to guide your efforts. You can also watch the full webinar below to listen to our in-depth discussion with Is Inspired.  

1. Start with the problem, not the solution  

When designing an effective partner program, it's crucial to understand the challenges your partners face. Identify areas where transparency is lacking and evaluate the impact it's having on your partner engagement.  

Start by conducting surveys or interviews with your partners to gain insights into their expectations and areas where transparency is most needed. Use this information to inform the design of your partner program, ensuring it aligns with partner needs and motivates desired behaviors. 

2. Design with simplicity and openness in mind 

When customers use their frequent flyer points, they get instant access to where they stand. Customers can log in anytime to the airline's website, see exactly where they stand and how much farther they need to fly or spend, to get to the next level of rewards.  

Use this as inspiration. Implement a tiering system that provides partners with clear, on-demand, and immediate visibility into their program status and progress. Collaborate with your partners to design a tiering system that resonates with their goals and aspirations. Seek their input on what metrics and criteria would be most meaningful to them. This collaborative approach ensures that the program is transparent, intuitive, and tailored to their needs. 

For example, in the technology industry, companies often categorize partners based on performance metrics like sales revenue, customer satisfaction ratings, training completion, and product certifications. By sharing these metrics with partners and allowing them to track their progress in a single platform like Impartner, companies can foster transparency and provide a clear path for partners to achieve higher tiers of success.  

Learn more in our comprehensive guide on building a revenue focused partner experience.  

3. Validate your program design  

Before implementing tools that can make tracking easier, validate your design and gather feedback from stakeholders. Create a prototype using real partner data and test its performance. Engage with partnering teams and gather insights to ensure the design meets their expectations. Conduct pilot tests with a select group of partners to gather feedback on the prototype. This iterative process allows you to identify any issues or areas for improvement before scaling the program. 

For instance, a software company can collaborate with a group of strategic partners to test the transparency of their tiering system. They can collect feedback on the effectiveness of the system in motivating partners, identify any usability issues, and fine-tune the design based on the feedback received. 

4. Leverage technology to automate your partner transparency efforts 

Leverage technology to automate data updates, assessments, and communication with your partners.  

For example, a manufacturing company could automate the process of tracking partners' sales performance and providing them with real-time access to their sales data. This enables partners to monitor their progress in a single dashboard, identify areas of improvement, and take proactive steps to increase their performance.  

To start, implement your program in phases, starting with the most critical milestones or tier structures. Prioritize milestones that provide immediate value to partners, such as showing them their current status against program criteria. Gradually introduce automated assessments and communication to enhance transparency over time. 

🔎 Discover more: Impartner's Program Compliance Manager automates partner tiering to ensure greater compliance while greatly reducing your admin time. Learn more about this automated solution here

5. Support automation with a personalized human touch  

They'll come up, so make sure to address any partner exceptions, complicated questions, and challenging conversations with a live person. While automation is ideal for delivering positive news, difficult discussions are best handled through empathetic and transparent discussions. Train your account managers to have open and transparent conversations with partners regarding exceptional circumstances or performance issues. Provide guidelines and resources to help these managers navigate these discussions with empathy and fairness. 

For instance, if a partner fails to meet the criteria for a higher tier level, the manager can proactively schedule a meeting to discuss the reasons behind the decision, and collaboratively develop an action plan to support the partner's growth. This personalized approach demonstrates transparency, fosters trust, and strengthens the partnership.  

Note, as you continue building transparency, and partners know exactly what to do and when, these conversations should become less frequent.  

Towards better partnerships  

Partner transparency is a cornerstone of any successful partner ecosystem. By prioritizing transparency in your partner programs and following these best practices, you can establish strong, long-lasting partnerships that drive mutual success. Implementing transparent tiering systems, validating designs, leveraging automation, and emphasizing open communication are essential steps in creating a culture of partner transparency. 

Remember, transparency is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment. Continuously assess and refine your partner programs to ensure they remain relevant and aligned with your partner needs. Embrace transparency, empower your partners, and unlock the true potential of your partnership network. By doing so, you will build trusted relationships, foster collaboration, and achieve remarkable results together. 

From partner onboarding to performance compliance, incentive programs, and business planning, Impartner handles your full partner journey and more with best practices and automation built-in. Need to accelerate your partnerships? We’re ready when you are. 

About the Author

Trevor Burnett is the Head of Product Marketing at Impartner. Burnett has over 15 years of experience in the partnerships space. Over the years, he has built both technical and business acumen as he's done everything from building partner portals himself to strategizing how to solve partnership problems through technology with hundreds of companies. He's also the host of Impartner's popular MasterClass series, in which he talks about the latest trends and tech in ecosystems.

Profile Photo of Trevor Burnett