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The Hidden Cost of Friction in Partner Programs: A Call to Improve

As the head of a sales team at a systems integrator for six years, my responsibilities included ensuring successful partnerships with various brands, generating revenue, and closing deals in a highly competitive landscape. These partnerships heavily relied on the perks offered by their respective partner programs.

One of the critical incentives in these partner programs was the Sales Performance Incentive Funds (SPIFFs) that rewarded our team for selling specific brands. While SPIFFs were powerful motivators, we noticed that certain brands were much easier to claim, leading us to focus almost exclusively on them. This singular factor influenced our decisions, potentially overshadowing better quality or more cost-effective solutions that could have been more beneficial to our customers.

We overlooked superior products from other brands, even though some of their representatives were more likable.

Upon joining Impartner and reflecting on this pattern, I became aware of the hidden cost of friction in many partner programs. The ease of claiming SPIFFs was just one example, and I realized that various other aspects might create friction in different programs. My role at Impartner involves consulting with our customers to identify friction points and help them improve their programs from the partner's perspective.

It is crucial to critically examine all aspects of your partner program to identify friction points from your partner's viewpoint. Failing to do so may lead to losing partners to competitors who offer smoother and more straightforward processes. Everyone’s goal is to be the easiest to do business with, but examining your processes with a critical lens often reveals room for improvement.

How much time, money, and resources are you investing into your programs, sales teams, engineering, and so forth, to all be disregarded because of a single point of friction?

With Impartner, I work with our customers to evaluate their processes and programs, identifying areas that can drive partner growth. By understanding and addressing these friction points, businesses can build stronger partnerships, improve customer satisfaction, and drive long-term success in an increasingly competitive market.

The hidden cost of friction in partner programs can hinder growth and limit the potential of your partnerships. Embracing a partner-centric approach and actively evaluating and improving program processes can lead to stronger relationships and better outcomes for all parties involved.

Ready to analyze your program? Book a demo today to learn what you can do to improve your partner experience and reduce friction throughout the partner lifecycle.

About the Author

Mike Kirby is the Sr. Director of Partner Strategy and Growth at Impartner. Kirby is a growth-oriented and results-driven partnerships leader with a talent for cultivating collaborative partnerships that drive partner channel program success. A dynamic sales executive, he has a passion for building high-performing teams based on trust and customer-first culture. Kirby is a KPI-building mastermind, tracking metrics to ensure that objectives are achieved and exceeded. With his proven track record of exceeding quotas, growing sales, and expanding pipelines, Kirby is a leader who has built a reputation as a trailblazer in his field. He is an experienced and well-trained mentor, coach, and recruiter who is effective at building and managing relationships with both B2B and B2C clients. Kirby has extensive leadership and volunteer experience in local business organizations, including United Way of Salt Lake and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

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