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6 Best Practices to Achieve Partner Experience Excellence

Partner experience, often abbreviated as PX, is a philosophy, a strategy, and a catalyst for driving indirect channel success. It encompasses everything from your people to your programs to your partner's everyday interactions and buy-in with your brand. Much like customer experience, improving your channel partner experience can be one of the most powerful drivers of growth and success in your business. However, according to in-depth research from PartnerPath, with Partnership Leaders, nearly 70% of vendors do not measure partner experience. 

Based on our MasterClass discussion with Diane Krakora, CEO and Founder of PartnerPath, we're sharing exclusive research and actionable tips for transforming your partner experience and differentiating your program from other vendors. From PX tools to incentives, these best practices will help you become the #1 pick for your partners. Let's get started!

👉 What you’ll find:

What does partner experience mean?

Partner experience encompasses the entire journey and interaction that a partner has with your business as a vendor. It's a holistic view that considers every touchpoint, action, and engagement that partners encounter while collaborating with your organization. In essence, channel partner experience reflects the quality of the partnership and the level of satisfaction and value your partners derive from it.

Think of it as the partner's journey through your business ecosystem. This journey includes interactions with your people, involvement in your programs, and navigating your systems. It's akin to the customer experience (CX) but tailored specifically for your partners.

By building an incredible partner experience you can build trust, foster collaboration, and empower your partners to accelerate growth.

Why is partner experience important?

Partner experience is the lifeblood of any robust partner ecosystem. It fuels partner engagement, which, in turn, drives sales and customer success.

Imagine your partners as the engines that power your growth. The better your partner experience, the more likely they are to engage with your business. They'll eagerly download your materials, collaborate seamlessly with your sales teams, and ultimately, become your brand evangelists. It ultimately helps you attract and retain high-performing partners who are instrumental in expanding your market reach and driving revenue.

It also helps your partner program stand out from the crowd of other vendors.

As noted in research from PartnerPath, nearly 70% of vendors do not measure partner experience. Even when they believe they understand it, they often lack systematic methods for collecting partner experience data.

Effective partner experience management (PXM) generates valuable data and insights. By monitoring and enhancing partner experience, you gain a clearer understanding of what works and what needs improvement. This data-driven approach enables you to make informed decisions, refine your strategies, and allocate resources more effectively.

We cover some of our best tips below for improving your partner experience strategy, but you can also watch the full webinar for our in-depth discussion!

How to improve your partner experience strategy

Now that we've established why partner experience matters, let's explore best practices to improve your partner experience across your ecosystem. 

1. Start with a partner experience score

For vendors ahead of the curve, there's the concept of a partner experience score—a game-changer. Only 3% of vendors have ventured into this territory. A partner experience score comprises a set of metrics that cover various aspects, from ease of doing business to access to resources and the effectiveness of training. You'll gather these metrics through quantative reviews as well as qualitative feedback surveys.

The metrics and scoring solution will vary on your business needs, but it can cover a wide range of aspects that you consider when evaluating your partner program, such as:

  • Ease of doing business: How effortless it is for partners to engage with your organization? Are your processes streamlined and efficient, or do partners struggle with bureaucracy?
  • Resource accessibility: How easily can partners get access to resources, whether it's marketing materials, sales collateral, or technical documentation?
  • Training effectiveness and completion rates: What's the quality and impact of your training programs? How many of your partners have finished their required training courses or certifications?
  • Support and communication: In moments of need, how responsive and helpful is your support system? What level of assistance do partners receive when facing challenges? Are you fostering an environment where partners can seamlessly interact with your team and other partners?

2. Automate your partner experiences

Automation is a formidable ally when it comes to improving your partner experience across a complex and growing ecosystem. Think of it as the partner experience enhancer, allowing your partners to access on-demand resources, connect to support services easily, and never hit a roadblock within your partnership.

According to PartnerPath, an impressive 80% of vendors have a partner portal, streamlining partner interactions. Additionally, 70% of vendors have automated the deal registration process, providing partners with a seamless experience.

3. Dial in your incentives

Compensation strategies obviously play a pivotal role in partner experience. While many vendors still rely on discounts from list prices (a model primarily suited for reselling), the landscape is evolving. Approximately 71% of vendors have adopted some form of referral-based commissions, reflecting the changing dynamics, especially in subscription-based business models.

However, many vendors often automate their internal processes related to customer success, and they neglect the partners' role in this critical phase. This oversight is an area ripe for improvement.

4. Track (and share) the metrics that matter

Performance metrics are a cornerstone of partner experience, especially during the growth stage of the partner journey. The catch is that these metrics need to be relevant, fair, and transparent to ensure partner satisfaction.

Relevance and fairness hinge on aligning these metrics with your partners' diverse business models. Not all partners are resellers, and expecting them to be measured against revenue targets, especially if they provide services or other unique value, is neither relevant nor fair.

Many partners advocate for transparent, personalized key performance indicators (KPIs). They want to be measured based on their specific business plans, partnership plans, and their perceived value to the vendor. This might include training initiatives, marketing efforts, lead generation, or even their role in the customer lifecycle.

5. Build trusted relationships for long-term success

What happens when things don't go according to plan? According to PartnerPath, one of the most significant actions partners cite as a reason for regretting their vendor relationships is those vendors who have promised more than they can deliver.

It's a humbling lesson for the industry: underpromise and overdeliver. Partners make investment decisions based on vendors' commitments, and failing to meet these expectations can lead to strained relationships.

6. Develop a partner experience management plan

Partner experience management (PXM) is the strategic and systematic approach to optimizing your partner experience throughout their journey. It involves a set of practices, processes, and tools designed to create a partner-first culture.

Effective PXM encompasses the following key elements:

  • Data collection: PXM begins with gathering comprehensive data about partner interactions, feedback, and sentiment. This data should serve as the foundation for understanding your partner needs and preferences.
  • Analysis: Once you have the data, analysis is crucial. It involves uncovering patterns, identifying pain points, and recognizing opportunities to enhance your partner experience.
  • Strategy: Armed with insights from your data analysis, you can develop and implement strategies that focus on improving partner interactions at every stage of their journey.
  • Feedback: Continuous improvement is at the core of PXM. Establishing feedback mechanisms allows partners to share their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions, which can inform ongoing adjustments.
  • Resource allocation: PXM helps in allocating resources effectively, ensuring that you invest in initiatives and programs that align with partner needs and drive desired outcomes.
  • Collaboration: It's about working together to co-create value, whether through joint marketing efforts, co-selling strategies, or other collaborative endeavors.
  • Technology: Leveraging technology, such as partner portals and marketing automation tools, can streamline and enhance your partner interactions, making their experience smoother and more productive.

In essence, partner experience management is a dynamic, iterative process that focuses on creating mutually beneficial relationships with your partners. It's a strategic imperative that can lead to increased partner engagement, loyalty, and, ultimately, business growth.

Your path to partner experience excellence

Partner experience is more than just a concept; it's a strategy for incredible long-term growth. By enhancing your partner experience, aligning metrics with your partners' business models, and maintaining transparency in your interactions, you can elevate your partner relationships to new heights.

Your journey to partner experience excellence starts with a commitment to understanding your partners, their unique roles, and their aspirations. It's about creating a partnership ecosystem where everyone thrives.

Are you ready to embark on this transformation? Impartner can help.

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 level up your partner experience? Let's get started. 

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.

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