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The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Channel Partner Programs

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 and partner programs leader, it is essential to ensure partners see value in your channel and continue to stay engaged.

Here are seven habits that highly successful channel partner programs practice:

1. Align with Partner Goals

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. With clearer benchmarks, you can quickly step in and provide additional support – before partners become unengaged.

Understand your partners' objectives and align your program with them to create a win-win situation.

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. Provide Clear Communications

Personalizing your communications so that you’re sending the right information to the right people, at the right time – makes it easy for partners to share that information with their own teams and customers. By regularly communicating with your partners, they'll be more informed and engaged on changes or updates to your program.

Include the latest product updates, brochures, use case documentation, and more when communicating with partners. The goal here is to ensure partners have everything they need to sell, consolidated in a location they can access quickly.

Having this structure 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. Recruit the Best Partners with To-Partner Marketing

For your partner program to be successful, it’s crucial that you recruit the best partners. 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. Deliver 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. Create 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.

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. Hold Regular Reviews to Empower Partners

Providing consistent reviews and optimizations are important for successful channel partner programs – and data is a necessary component for this. Give partners access to data and insights that can help them improve their sales and marketing efforts. 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 Impartner Analytics to help partners gain success and accelerate mutual channel revenue.

7. Leverage 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.