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From Start to Finish: Your Full Partner Enablement Guide

Are you ready to supercharge your business growth and establish more powerful partnerships? It's time to dive into the world of partner enablement, a strategy that equips your partners to excel in selling, marketing, and supporting your products or services.

In this guide, we'll explore the critical components of partner enablement, from training and sales support to marketing and technical resources. Discover strategies, examples, and insights from industry leaders to create a partner enablement plan that works. Plus, glimpse into the future of partner enablement, where personalization, data-driven insights, and collaboration take center stage.

Don't miss your chance to transform your partner ecosystem and drive unparalleled growth—read on to unleash the potential of true partner enablement! Let's get started.

👉 What you’ll find:

What is partner enablement?

Partner enablement is a strategy that empowers your partners to effectively sell, market, and support your products or services. At its core, enablement is all about cultivating better relationships with your partners, equipping them with the essential resources, knowledge, and tools to represent your brand and offerings with precision and confidence.

For example, consider a software company that develops cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions. To enable their partners effectively, they offer comprehensive training programs that delve into the intricacies of their products, including threat detection, risk assessment, and product integration. These partners also gain access to a partner portal with on-demand sales collateral, marketing materials, and technical documentation.

Armed with these resources, the partners can confidently approach new clients, better address their cybersecurity needs, and close more deals. This not only accelerates growth for the software company but also establishes trust and credibility in the eyes of their clients, thanks to the expertise of their well-enabled partners.

What are the most important partner enablement benefits?

Partner enablement allows you to drive rapid revenue growth through your partners, but its scope extends beyond this, offering several other critical benefits.

For your business, you can tap into the following advantages after rolling out a partner enablement strategy:

  • Revenue growth: As noted, effective partner enablement directly impacts your bottom line by driving increased sales and revenue. For instance, if you're a manufacturing company, enabling your resellers to better sell your products can lead to a significant uptick in sales.
  • Cost-efficiency: When partners take on some of your sales and support functions, you can allocate your resources more efficiently. Think of HubSpot's partner program, which provides marketing and sales software, that effectively helps them reduce their customer acquisition costs.
  • Market expansion: Partnering enables you to enter new markets and customer segments without significant upfront investments.
  • Scalability: Partnering allows you to scale your business rapidly without the need to hire and train an extensive in-house sales force. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a prime example, as they rely heavily on partners to extend their cloud computing services, enabling them to scale rapidly.
  • Enhanced focus: Well-trained partners can take over certain sales and support functions, freeing up your internal teams to focus on the core activities it does best.

With complex, interconnected partner ecosystems, it's always important to think beyond your immediate benefits. Partner enablement can help your bottom line, but it can also provide immeasurable benefits to your partners, such as: 

  • Increased revenue streams by selling more of your products or services
  • Acquire new skills and knowledge, improving their expertise and marketability
  • Effective enablement fosters strong partnerships based on trust and collaboration
  • Gain credibility by associating with your brand, which can help them attract more customers

What does partner enablement include?

Partner enablement is a multifaceted strategy that's designed to equip and empower your partners for success in your ecosystem. It encompasses several critical elements, ensuring that your partners are well-prepared to effectively represent and promote your brand.

Before we dig into building your larger partner enablement strategy, let's look at some of the tools, tiers, and techniques you'll use to rollout your strategy. Throughout, you'll find examples from leading companies on how they rolled out new partner enablement initiatives and the wins they achieved.

Training and education

Everything starts with training. This foundational component of partner enablement involves providing partners with comprehensive knowledge about your products, services, industry, and current market trends. It's about empowering them to become trusted advisors to their customers.

Training begins with partner onboarding, but it doesn't stop there. Your training should be an ongoing process that keeps partners informed about product updates and industry shifts. Segment your training, bring in certification programs for partners to complete, and tie training wins to larger incentives within your ecosystem.

Sales enablement

Whether you're a software provider or a hardware manufacturer, partners need easy and on-demand access to your product specifications, pricing information, sales collateral, and demos to effectively engage with customers.

Go beyond with tools that allow partners to communicate with your internal teams, co-brand your sales materials, and more! ️

⭐️ Partner enablement win! Zendesk empowers partners to be an extension of their team

“We really focus on the partner experience first so we wanted a solution that would allow us to provide a great experience for our partners and the people who are interacting with us through our partner portal, but also provide a great platform for our sales and marketing people to collaborate and engage with partners in a way that was scalable and efficient.”

Discover how Zendesk connected their partners and internal teams in one platform in the following video!

Marketing support

Successful partner enablement extends to their marketing efforts as well. Offer partners access to a wealth of marketing materials, co-branded campaigns, and proven strategies that help them effectively market your products or services. Collaborate on joint marketing initiatives to maximize reach and impact.

Learn how one leading company used digital ads to rapidly connect their partners with local customers.

⭐️ Partner enablement win! Xerox deploys targeted Google Ads for partners

Xerox needed a way to scale their co-marketing efforts for their partners, but initial efforts were time-consuming, costly, and led to conflicting ad campaigns and budgets. With Impartner’s Google Ads for the Channel solution, Xerox set up and deployed targeted, localized ad campaigns with zero effort from partners. Today, Google Ads is the first source of leads for their partners and has led to a 75% decrease in cost per lead!

Read the full case study here.

Technical support

Partners should have access to technical assistance, detailed documentation, and resources that enable them to address customer issues and maintain the quality of your products or services.

By providing responsive and knowledgeable technical support directly for your partner teams, you enhance your partners' ability to deliver excellent customer experiences.

Partner portals

Building a dedicated partner portal is essential for enablement. A partner portal should serve as a centralized hub where partners can effortlessly access critical information on-demand, such as training courses, documentation, sales and marketing assets, and more.

Make your partner portal user-friendly and regularly update it to ensure partners have the most up-to-date resources. A great partner portal frees up both your team's time and empowers your partners to be active participants in your ecosystem. Learn how to go beyond the partner portal here. ️

⭐️ Partner enablement win! Mambu creates a one-stop shop for partners

"It's our partners' one-stop shop. It's everything that they need at their fingertips. The tool is just so robust, and it really helps set the standard.”

Learn more about Mambu's partner enablement journey in the following video.

Performance metrics and tracking

Establish clear KPIs that align with your partner enablement objectives, so your team and your partners can gauge their progress and success in real-time.

Provide them with tools and dashboards that enable them to track their performance, monitor their progress on training and engagement, make data-driven decisions, and adjust their strategies as needed.

Always-on communication

We saved the best for last. Effective communication is the glue that binds successful partnerships, unifying all the areas we just discussed.

Foster regular channels for interaction between your team and partners. This includes communication tools in your portal, events, webinars, forums, and collaborative initiatives that create a sense of community among the partners in your ecosystem. Facilitating collaboration not only strengthens relationships but also sparks innovation and shared success.

Incorporating all of these elements into your partner enablement strategy drives mutual growth and success. It empowers your partners to become ambassadors of your brand and fosters a thriving ecosystem where both your business and your partners grow faster, together.

How do you create a partner enablement plan that works?

You know what's involved. Now, how do you create a partner enablement plan that works? Keep reading to find our comprehensive guide, broken down into steps, to help you create an incredible partner enablement plan. 

  1. Define your goals and objectives
  2. Segment your partners
  3. Assess your partners' needs
  4. Develop your library of resources
  5. Tie it all together in an integrated partner portal
  6. Monitor, adjust, and improve!

1. Define your goals and objectives 

Your journey begins with crystal-clear goal setting. Are you primarily focused on increasing revenue, expanding into new markets, enhancing customer satisfaction, or achieving a combination of these and other outcomes? The goals you set at this stage will serve as the foundation for the entire partner enablement plan.

For instance, if you're a healthcare company, perhaps your primary aim is to boost revenue while expanding into new markets. These goals serve as the foundational pillars upon which you'll construct your entire partner enablement plan.

Common goals for partner enablement include:

  • Increase revenue: Boosting sales and revenue is a primary goal for many organizations, and partners can play a pivotal role in achieving this objective.
  • Market expansion: Expanding into new geographic regions or customer segments is a strategic goal that can involve leveraging partners' local expertise and networks.
  • Enhance customer experience: Ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction can lead to repeat business and positive referrals, a key goal for long-term success.
  • Product adoption: Driving greater adoption of your products or services among customers is essential for growth.
  • Partner growth: Focusing on expanding your partner ecosystem by onboarding new partners or growing existing ones can be a key goal for maximizing growth.
  • Market share increase: Gaining a larger market share in your industry is a common goal, which partners can assist in achieving.
  • Improve partner performance: If you already have a larger ecosystem, enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of your partners can lead to some huge wins.
  • Innovation and product development: Collaborating with partners to co-create new solutions or features is a common strategic goal, particularly in technology.
  • Sustainability and CSR: Achieving sustainability goals or contributing to corporate social responsibility objectives can also be integrated into your partner enablement plans.

These goal ideas can provide a starting point to align your partner enablement efforts with your broader strategic objectives.

2. Segment your partners

Partners are not a homogeneous group. They vary in experience, expertise, and capabilities. And this matters when it comes to how much time, resources, and buy-in they'll have to engage with your enablement materials.

Segmentation is the key to personalizing your enablement efforts. Consider categorizing partners based on criteria such as industry specialization, geographic focus, the support services they offer, or product line expertise. This segmentation allows you to tailor your support to each group's distinct needs.

Common segments or categories you may use to categorize your partners include:

  • Specialization: Segment partners based on their expertise in specific industries, such as healthcare, finance, education, or manufacturing, or if they're B2B or B2C focused.
  • Geographic focus: Categorize partners according to their geographic coverage, whether it's regional, national, or international, to align with market expansion strategies.
  • Service offerings: Segment partners by the range of support services they provide, such as consulting, implementation, training, or technical support.
  • Type: Differentiate between different types of partners, such as resellers, distributors, value-added resellers (VARs), or system integrators, and more. Dig into all the different types of channel partners here!
  • Expertise: Group partners based on their proficiency in selling or supporting specific product lines or product categories. Or you can categorize partners based on their specialization in certain technologies or platforms, which is particularly relevant in tech and IT.
  • Customer type: Distinguish partners based on the types of customers they serve, such as small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), enterprise clients, or government agencies.
  • Partner performance: Differentiate partners based on their level of engagement or achievement within your partner program, such as Gold, Silver, or Platinum partners. You also segment partners based on their historical sales performance, such as top-performing partners or those who need improvement.
  • Size: Categorize partners according to the size of their company and the size of their customer base. Consider too if they are startups, established businesses, or long-standing industry leaders.
  • Lifecycle stage: Consider each partners stage of engagement, whether they are new recruits, established partners, or long-term brand advocates.

By categorizing partners into any or all of these segments, you can tailor your partner enablement strategies and resources to meet the specific needs and strengths of each group, ultimately optimizing your efforts.

✅ Dig deeper: Learn what both partners and vendors say matters when it comes to segmentation in our in-depth research report with PartnerPath: The State of Partner Experience: Insights to Drive Growth

3. Assess your partner needs

Once you've established your partner categories, the next step is to assess the specific needs of each partner within those categories. This assessment is the linchpin of an effective partner enablement plan, as it provides the insights you need to tailor your support and resources effectively.

There are a few methods to assess your partners' strengths, weaknesses, and requirements, such as:

  • Surveys: These surveys can be designed to cover various aspects of their partnership with your organization, from product knowledge to satisfaction to marketing support. Get started with our free partner survey template here!
  • Interviews: Conducting interviews with your key partners can offer a more in-depth understanding of their unique circumstances and challenges. These interviews can reveal nuances that may not surface in broader surveys.
  • Self-assessments: Some partners may be well aware of their own capabilities and limitations. Offer partners self-assessment tools to encourage them to reflect on their needs and gaps, and how your enablement plan can help address those.
  • Performance reviews: Analyzing historical performance data, such as sales figures and customer feedback, can provide valuable insights into each partner's strengths and areas for improvement.

How would this look? Let's say you're a cloud service provider who needs to evaluate your partners' cloud security expertise. You use a survey that covers topics like data encryption, threat detection, and compliance with industry standards. The survey results reveal that many of your new partners lack in-depth knowledge of security protocols and best practices. Also, your system integrators don't feel like they have the fast technical support they need to adequately fix customer issues. Armed with this knowledge, you can proceed to tailor your resources to address these gaps.

As you can see, this assessment will help guide the development of your training materials, resources, and other support tools in the later stages of your partner enablement plan. It ensures that your enablement efforts are precisely aligned with the needs of your actual partner ecosystem. ️

4. Develop your resources

Once you've completed the needs assessment phase and gained valuable insights into your partners' requirements, it's time to roll up your sleeves and start creating the tailored resources that will empower your partners for success.

Whether your partners have varying levels of product knowledge, expertise, or serve different markets, your resources should align with their unique needs. And the resources needed will look different for every company and every partner ecosystem and every partner!

Here's how to approach this essential step in your partner enablement plan:

Create custom training materials

Craft training materials that cater to partners at different skill levels. For example, if you have both beginners and advanced users among your partners, develop training modules that cover the basics for newcomers and dive deep into advanced concepts and techniques for experienced partners. Consider using various formats such as video tutorials, webinars, written guides, and interactive simulations to accommodate different learning preferences.

Develop tailored marketing materials

Create marketing collateral that aligns with the diverse market opportunities your partners might pursue. For example, an HR software company that wants to expand their market reach could develop industry-specific marketing materials for partners targeting the new finance and legal sectors. These materials might include case studies, whitepapers, and pre-designed marketing campaigns tailored to the needs and pain points of customers in those industries.

Create advanced integration guides

For partners who specialize in complex integrations or solutions, provide advanced integration guides. These guides should offer step-by-step instructions, best practices, how-to videos, and troubleshooting tips to facilitate smooth integrations and support.

Update your technical documentation and support

If your products or services require technical know-how, ensure that comprehensive technical documentation is available on-demand. This documentation should be clear, up-to-date, and easily accessible for partners to troubleshoot issues and maintain product or service quality. Also include how to get in touch with your technical teams for advanced cases.

Recognize that your partner enablement journey is not static. As your products evolve and market dynamics shift, your resources should evolve accordingly. Commit to regularly updating your training materials, marketing collateral, and technical documentation to keep partners informed and aligned with your latest offerings.

You should also establish feedback mechanisms that allow partners to provide input on the effectiveness of the resources you provide. Partners are often in the best position to evaluate the practicality and usefulness of your materials. Use their feedback to fine-tune and enhance your resources.

⭐️ Partner enablement win! PFU Fujitsu deploys on-demand real-time resources for their ecosystem

"Our partners are very happy with the simplicity of how the platform works. It’s very easy to navigate and they have ownership of where to source information. We now have the ability to launch new products and share brand-consistent promos and videos on the very same day.”

Learn more by reading our full case study.

5. Tie it all together in an integrated partner portal

One of the most effective ways to ensure that your partners have easy access to the training materials, resources, and support you just created is by establishing a centralized partner portal that's integrated into your larger partner relationship management platform.

Imagine a manufacturing company launching a partner portal. Within this portal, their partners can access a comprehensive library of training modules. A dynamic newsfeed keeps them informed about the latest product updates. Moreover, a vast library of sales, CPQ tools, and marketing assets are available for them to customize for their customers.

An integrated portal serves as a digital hub where partners can conveniently access everything they need for their enablement journey. It should be mobile-optimized and easy for partners to use. Most partner portals contain some or all of the following resources:

  • Training materials and modules
  • Marketing collateral and assets
  • Deal registration tools
  • Discussion forums and collaboration spaces
  • Sales resources and tools
  • Product documentation and guides
  • Event calendars
  • Support request and ticket system
  • Partner directory and profiles
  • FAQs and knowledge base repository
  • Marketing assets and co-branded templates
  • Performance metrics and KPI tracking
  • Role-based access control and permissions
  • Integration guides and APIs
  • Newsletters, alerts, and notifications
  • Technical support channels and resources
  • Interactive training quizzes and assessments
  • Lead generation tools and features

By creating a well-structured partner portal, you not only enhance partner enablement but also strengthen the sense of partnership and collaboration within your ecosystem. Partners will appreciate the convenience and value the portal provides, leading to increased engagement and, ultimately, improved business outcomes.

✅ Dig deeper: From our partners at Spur Reply, learn how to roll out your partner enablement plan with Impartner's end-to-end partner management platform!

6. Monitor, adjust, and improve

Incorporate ongoing support into your partner enablement plan. This entails regular check-ins to address partner concerns, technical assistance to resolve challenges, and access to subject matter experts for specialized support tailored to each partner segment's unique needs.

Also, establish KPIs that align with your initial goals. Regularly review these KPIs to assess the effectiveness of your partner enablement plan. Be prepared to make adjustments if certain partners or segments are falling short of their targets or if it's not yielding your expected results.

By following these steps and continuously monitoring and adapting your partner enablement plan, you can unlock the full potential of your partner ecosystem.

What does the future of partner enablement look like?

The future of partner enablement is poised for some exciting transformations. Trends indicate a path toward more personalized and data-driven strategies.

With advanced analytics and AI, companies can tailor their enablement programs to each partner's unique needs, ensuring timely and precise support. AI-driven insights can also provide predictive analytics, helping businesses identify partners at risk or with untapped potential.

Digital and virtual enablement methods will also gain prominence, leveraging technologies like VR and AR to create more immersive training experiences. Continuous learning through microlearning modules will replace traditional approaches, offering partners just-in-time knowledge.

The focus on the partner experience will intensify. Businesses will invest in creating seamless, intuitive, and user-friendly partner portals and platforms. Partner feedback will be actively sought and incorporated into the design and improvement of enablement programs.

Collaboration within partner ecosystems will also expand, fostering greater innovation and co-development. For example, technology companies will continue to partner with independent software vendors (ISVs) to co-create specialized solutions that cater to specific industries, resulting in innovative offerings that neither party could have developed alone.

As technology continues to advance and businesses adapt to changing market dynamics, partner enablement will remain a pivotal strategy for driving growth, fostering innovation, and building lasting partnerships in the years to come.

How to automate your partner enablement efforts

As we've explored, partner enablement isn't merely a strategy; it's a transformational journey that empowers businesses to grow faster, together. By arming partners with knowledge, resources, and on-demand support, you can signal your commitment to mutual growth.

Make it all happen with Impartner, your end-to-end partner relationship management solution.

Each day millions of partners in nearly every industry across the globe access Impartner. Why? Because the partner experience matters and leading channel organizations agree.

Impartner is the fastest-growing, most award-winning channel management solution provider on the market. Our partner relationship management (PRM) and through channel marketing automation (TCMA) solutions help companies accelerate revenue and profitability through their indirect sales channels at every partner lifecycle touchpoint.

From partner training and onboarding to pipeline management, resource sharing, and performance tracking, Impartner handles it all and more with best practices and automation built-in.

Ready to effortlessly enable your full partner ecosystem? Let's get started.

About the Author

Impartner is the fastest-growing, most award-winning provider of partner management and partner marketing automation solutions. We've been around for decades, and were the first to coin the term "PRM". Today, over 40,000 users leverage Impartner to manage millions of partners within their ecosystem of distributors, resellers, and more. We draw on decades of experience with best practices in the channel to create content that helps partnership leaders grow their careers and scale their programs.

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