This is the final installment in a four-part blog series on Partner Journey Excellence. In our previous blog, “Achieving Excellence in the Partner Journey by Mastering Partner-Led Growth“, we explored strategies to optimize revenue from existing partners. Now, we shift our focus to mature partnerships. Here we delve into the question of how to encourage and support partners to advance their competencies, unlock new specializations, and achieve higher partnership status and levels (e.g. tiers).
This Partner Journey Excellence blog series has drawn insights and best practices from a recent webinar we hosted. The webinar panel included industry experts Jennifer Judy, Senior Director of Global Partner Experience at HP, Penny Byron, Principal Consultant Partner GTM at Bridge Partners, Kenneth Fox, CEO at Channel Mechanics, and myself, Margaret Adam, Head of Product Marketing at Channel Mechanics.
In the latter stages of the partner journey, the primary goal is to elevate, deepen, and expand existing partnerships. This may involve advancing through partnership tiers or developing deep specializations. However, one thing is for sure. It all centers around fostering partner commitment and investment in your program.
Achieving excellence in this stage heavily relies on the design of your partner program.
Partner Program Excellence
The goal of any partner program is to help partners grow in terms of revenue. To do so necessitates growth in terms of competencies and levels. In many cases, vendors also want to encourage partners to build their own solutions, services portfolio, and IP (intellectual property) around their offerings.
“It comes down to your partner program. It’s the way that your partner program is built to incentivize them to be able to grow within the partner program.” Jennifer Judy, Senior Director of Global Partner Experience, HP
Innovative partner program design featuring a mix of incentives, competition, and recognition, will help you foster partner commitment, investment, and success.
Best Practice Strategies for Encouraging Partner Competency Advancement
Points-based systems are a powerful way to reward partners for achieving specific goals and activities. By assigning points to performance, specific activities (e.g. number of deals registered), and capability (e.g. training and certifications), you can incentivize partners to actively participate in your program. This enables partners to advance through levels without solely relying on revenue thresholds. Implementing a points-based program encourages specific behaviors and growth in multiple areas. By not purely relying on revenue as a metric, it also helps different types and sizes of partners thrive within your program.
Digital Badges and Personal Recognition
Recognizing individuals through the awarding of digital badges for their specific achievements, skills, or accomplishments adds a personal touch to your partner program. People are motivated by competition and personal recognition and badges allow them to showcase their achievements and advance their own careers.
Gamification elements, such as rewards, competitions, and badges, can actively engage and motivate partners to achieve specific objectives. And it doesn’t require a complex platform; it’s about creating healthy competition. Whether it’s a leaderboard for education or challenges related to skills development.
“People love competition, they love to be on top and claim their badge on their email signatures. Embrace that!” Jennifer Judy, Senior Director of Global Partner Experience, HP
Creating a community within your partner program fosters a sense of belonging and support. Partners can come together to share best practices, learn from one another, and accelerate their growth. This community aspect adds an extra layer of motivation and support.
“Creating community and best practices layered onto the program structure that will help you with that little extra boost for acceleration.” Penny Byron, Principal Consultant Partner GTM, Bridge Partners
Excellence in the latter stages of the partner journey, where the focus is on elevating and deepening partnerships, relies on innovative partner program design. A combination of incentives, competition, recognition, and community building will help you foster partner commitment, investment, and ultimately, success. By employing these strategies, your partner program can truly encourage and support partners to advance their competencies. Thereby unlocking new levels of value creation. This, in turn, will help your partners thrive and contribute to your program’s growth and success.