Partner onboarding is the process of effectively integrating new partners into your organization’s partner program and operations.
In the earliest stages of the partner journey, the primary goal is to create a smooth and efficient onboarding experience, leaving a positive first impression of your brand, and ensuring the partner remains motivated and committed to the partnership. Another key objective is to reduce the time to revenue. In other words, shortening the period between initial onboarding and the partner’s first sale. Every day lost in the early stages can mean revenue left on the table.
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.
Best Practices for Accelerating Time to Revenue for New Partners
This blog is the second in a series of four in which we explore the different elements of the partner journey and share some of the best practices uncovered during the panel discussion. The first post looked at “Optimizing the Partner Journey – Strategies for Success in a Changing Landscape“. Whereas in this blog we explore some of the best practices to make the onboarding process effective and efficient and accelerate the time to revenue for new partners.
“Partner onboarding is not a one-time event, it’s an ongoing process where you want to foster long-term relationships, with your partners.” Kenneth Fox, CEO, Channel Mechanics
The First Step Towards Acceleration is Automation
Partner onboarding isn’t just about welcoming new partners; it’s about making the process efficient and user-friendly. Automation plays a pivotal role in achieving this. Creating a partner portal that streamlines the onboarding process can significantly reduce administrative overhead and ensure a positive partner experience. A well-structured portal is the gateway to your partnership. It guides partners through necessary steps while minimizing confusion.
Think in terms of Persona-Based Journeys
Partners come to your portal to get things done, not to browse. They’re juggling multiple vendors and have little time to spare. To become their vendor of choice, simplify the process and offer content that matches their role. Utilize partner relationship management (PRM) tools to identify their roles (sales, technical, marketing) and provide content tailored to their needs. Instead of overwhelming them with irrelevant information, customize their experience. Are they likely to be registering a deal, claiming a rebate, or seeking MDF? Ease of doing business should be your mantra.
Distinguish between Operational and Transactional Onboarding Processes
When it comes to onboarding, you can categorize it into two main aspects: operational and transactional. Operational onboarding involves signing contracts, setting up systems, and ensuring everything is in place. Transactional onboarding, on the other hand, is about simplifying the process of transacting business with you. Many vendors lose sight of how efficient the operational processes are.
“If you’re trying to build this, onboard yourself to your own organization.” Jennifer Judy, Senior Director of Global Partner Experience, HP
To truly understand the partner experience, why not onboard yourself to your own organization? Explore the partner application and see how the process flows. This firsthand experience can help you identify areas for improvement.
Keep Partners Engaged and Motivated
The journey does not end once partners are onboarded. It evolves. You must keep them engaged and motivated. Therefore, sending relevant, targeted content is crucial. Overwhelming them with irrelevant communications can lead to disengagement. Effective communication and continuous support are essential. Partners need to know that their efforts are valued, and recognition goes a long way in keeping them engaged. Remember, they are most motivated by ‘What’s in it for Me’ (WIFM).”
Incentives Drive Success
Incentives are a powerful motivator. Offer incentives for achieving specific milestones, such as inputting their first deal reg or closing their first deal. This further keeps partners motivated and invested in your partnership.
Teach them to Fish
Don’t just rely on formal training and certification programs. Be proactive in equipping partners early with the tools and insights they need to succeed. Host webinars and one-on-one sessions to help partners identify and pursue opportunities effectively. Share insights about ideal customer profiles, successful positioning strategies, and key offers. These check-in sessions can provide them with valuable tools to succeed.
“So, you haven’t just brought them onboard, you haven’t just told them the steps they need to do, you’ve said “I’m going to hold your hand a bit and help you go after these first opportunities. And oh, by the way, if you win one of these, here’s a great incentive for you.” Penny Byron, Principal Consultant Partner GTM, Bridge Partners
Utilize Partner Journey Dashboards
Managing many partners can be challenging. If you manage them offline it becomes very difficult to assess where they are in their partner journey. Dashboards can help you keep track of their progress in the onboarding process. Are they operational? Have they signed onto the portal, or completed the required training? These dashboards provide valuable insights and allow your sales team to offer targeted assistance.
Accelerating time to revenue for new partners is all about creating a streamlined, engaging, and persona-driven onboarding process. It involves simplification, motivation, and continuous support. Remember, it’s a partnership, and success should be a shared goal. By following these best practices, you can optimize the path and help your partners start generating revenue sooner rather than later.