The partner journey describes how potential and existing partners engage with a vendor, from initial awareness to ongoing collaboration for mutual success. Achieving success in your channel go-to-market strategy necessitates optimizing the partner journey at every stage.
Channel Mechanics recently hosted a webinar titled “Partner Journey Excellence: Navigating the Path from Onboarding to Growing Sustainable Partnerships.” Moderated by myself (Margaret Adam, Head of Product Marketing at Channel Mechanics), and joined by Jennifer Judy, Senior Director of Global Partner Experience at HP, Penny Byron, Principal Consultant Partner GTM at Bridge Partners, and Kenneth Fox, CEO at Channel Mechanics.
This is the first in a series of four blogs in which we explore the different elements of the partner journey and share some of the best practices uncovered during the panel discussion. In this blog post, we will delve into the significance of the partner journey within the current economic and market landscape.
Optimizing the Partner Journey:
Strategies for Success in a Changing Landscape
Adapt to Grow
During the last decade, the partner landscape has undergone significant transformations, primarily driven by the transition to as-a-service business models. Within this context, it is imperative to view the partner journey not as a linear progression, but as a dynamic and adaptable lifecycle management program that evolves in line with their transformation.
“We really see the partner journey as an infinity loop rather than a linear path because it is not a one-time effort. Partner journey excellence involves continuous efforts in nurturing to evolve the partnership over time. To the point where there is mutual value creation and benefit.” Margaret Adam, Head of Product Marketing, Channel Mechanics.
While some partners may remain resistant to change and persist in their traditional business models, a larger segment is actively pursuing transformation, and the current economic climate will only accelerate that process. Proactive partners may have already undergone initial onboarding with your organization. However, as they evolve, it may become necessary to revisit the onboarding and training processes to ensure alignment with fast-evolving market dynamics and needs.
“Sometimes people think, onboarding is an initial step to bring them in and it’s not, it’s the whole lifecycle management of that partner.” Kenneth Fox, CEO, Channel Mechanics
Follow a Multi-Pronged Approach for Growth
Channel leaders face dual challenges: the need to grow profitably and the necessity to do more with less. This raises the fundamental question: where will growth come from? Is it a case of recruiting new partners or even new types of partners? Or is it a case of doubling down and doing more with your existing partners? The answer lies in deploying a combination of tactics while finding ecosystem synergies wherever possible.
“You want to grow your revenue, you want to expand your reach, and you still want to recruit.” Jennifer Judy, Senior Director of Global Partner Experience at HP
Nurture High-Performing Existing Partners:
Take a close look at your current install base of partners. One powerful method is through nurture campaigns, as these can significantly enhance your visibility and engagement with partners, ensuring you remain top-of-mind. Staying relevant and maintaining an ongoing connection is critical for revenue generation.
Target Episodic Partners:
In addition to nurturing existing partners, think about ways to target episodic partners—i.e., those who engage periodically in a very transactional manner. The key objective is to find ways to increase the frequency of engagement. Again, the central strategy revolves around staying top-of-mind, driving continuous engagement, and ultimately, growing revenue from your existing partner base.
Lean on your Technology Alliances:
Expanding partner reach can be challenging. As such, creativity plays a crucial role. Identifying technology synergies can be a useful strategy to deploy here. Think about how your products can work with other technologies or products that complement them and then look to target those synergistic vendor’s partners. You’ll identify new partners you may not have thought about before and they are likely to be a good fit for your products. Another avenue worth exploring is within your technology and alliance partnerships, these present substantial opportunities.
“When you enter an opportunity with a technology partner, there are significant advantages. It becomes a stickier solution, resulting in less churn when you close a deal. Close rates are higher, often 40% to 60% higher. Additionally, the deal sizes tend to be larger, offering more upsell and cross-sell opportunities.” Penny Byron, Principal Consultant Partner GTM, Bridge Partners
Leverage your Distributors:
Often overlooked, distributors are a goldmine for recruitment activities. They are an extension of your sales organization and can be instrumental in helping you identify and recruit new partners. Distributors are very experienced when it comes to entering new markets and facilitating partner recruitment and enablement. There are some effective strategies to get them involved, like offering incentives for bringing in new customers for your products. They work with multiple vendors and have existing relationships with partners who sell into your target markets.
Success in any business depends on the ability to adapt, innovate, and grow. To achieve this, it’s essential to evolve along with the market and your customers’ needs. This applies equally to how you approach your partnership strategy. Just as we map out the customer journey to meet their needs, it’s essential to apply the same strategy and care for optimizing the partner journey.