There are many ways to keep Formula 1 drivers happy, but the most important one has to be the car. F1 fans are going crazy over the 2022 car lineup. It’s more aerodynamic, more sustainable, and should ensure a smoother driving experience for the driver. If we compare the F1 car to the partner experience, how do you ensure the best ride for your partners?
In our previous blogpost, we looked at how to get your partners in winning shape through human interaction, pulling them up to the top, and recognizing not all partners are created equal.
In this article, we will go deeper into treating your partner program as a training program, how to get your message to the market, and how to supercharge that message through co-creation.
Training & enablement
Racing drivers don’t wake up one day and decide to drive an F1 car. In fact, there are many hilarious moments of non-professional drivers trying – and failing.
It takes continuous training to get this good. When drivers aren’t in a car, they’re in a simulator. Before racing, there are the track walk and test days – even for those who know the circuit by heart. It’s how the team discovers how their car will react to the driver, the track, the weather. It’s all part of training.
In the channel, it’s no different. Before letting your partners out into the wild to promote, sell, and support your products and services, they need the confidence to do so. You want your partners to be able to talk to end-users while fully understanding your portfolio. If they lack confidence, they won’t talk about you. And that would be a missed opportunity.
Train skills, not just knowledge
Do you think Charles Leclerc knows how to put his Ferrari together? Ever heard him talk about the inner workings of its motor? What he does know, is how to make it purr – and that’s what matters.
The same goes for your partners.
When’s the last time you read a manual cover to cover? Chances are, never. Yet so many vendors expect their partners to do so. Take a good look at your product/service, is it interesting in itself? Or is it what you can do with it that makes it interesting? How it can add value to your end-user, and ultimately help grow their business.
Train your partners on how to talk about your products by teaching them:
- what problems your products/services can solve for end-users
- how to identify why end-users need these products now
- how to identify the end-user DMUs and who to initiate contact with
- what positive effects your products/services will have on their business
- how they can add their own value through consulting and added services
Naturally, these sales skills require some knowledge of your product, but they don’t rely on your product as heavily as in traditional sales. Instead, your partners will focus on talking to the right people about benefits and added value and will yield maximum results.
When F1 drivers aren’t in a car, they’re either training their body and reaction speed or they’re in a simulator. It’s work – hard work – but it’s fun.
Gamification is a great way to make training more fun for your partners. Test their knowledge through quizzes, create virtual assistants, build your onboarding like a quest that they can complete, and most importantly, reward them for completing tasks.
And don’t forget. Training is not a one-time thing. If you want to keep your partners eager to work with and talk about your product, they will need continuous training. Make sure it’s broken down into smaller chunks to make it easy to digest. And keep it fun!
Get the message to the market
Now we’ve explored what you need to do before getting your message to the market, now let’s see how to help your partners get that message across. Because at the end of the day, you want to turn end-users into fans of your brand and your partner’s brand.
Vendor push to end-user pull
Gone are the days when partners simply functioned as resellers selling your stock. Today’s partners are focused on solving the problems of their end-users. If they can offer that solution through your products/solutions or a combination of those products/solutions with other brands they carry, all the better.
It also means that you are no longer pushing your solutions on partners, but instead, your end-users are pulling them through your partners.
Partners lack time and resources to do marketing, so you need to help them. We see it time and again, the more you help, the higher the engagement.
Content is the fuel for your machine
F1 regulations state that fuel needs to be more sustainable for 2022, and we couldn’t agree more! An optimum partner experience needs to be fueled by content. It needs to be sustainable in order to fully support your program and technology. The quality of your fuel is what will make your program work.
High-quality content comes in many forms. Our vendors are supported in the use of different forms of content, such as:
- Co-branded landing pages: images and information from vendors, styled to fit partner websites. Mostly culminating in a lead gen form with dual-brand opt-in.
- Facebook and LinkedIn social posts: image and text posts that link back to the co-branded landing page. With an option to edit.
- Facebook and LinkedIn ads: image and text ads that link back to the co-branded landing page. Often used for managed – gold & platinum – partners.
Supercharge your message through co-creation
In Formula 1, no two cars are the same. And cars are never the same for two years in a row. It’s no different in the channel. To keep your channel partnerships successful, you should be constantly iterating both your partner program and your channel marketing program. This way you’ll be able to keep up with the demands of your partners and their end-users.
Where traditionally, channel partners were simply resellers, now they can add so much more than a price tag. Here are three ways to encourage your partners to get more out of a sale.
Most products and services require more than simply boxing and shipping. Once a sale has taken place there is an entire customer journey ahead. From installation to training and consulting, partners are creating their own services on top of their vendor’s products/services.
When it comes to sales and marketing, your partners should never feel like they’re doing it alone. Creating joint-marketing plans will benefit both parties. Set up a success plan together. Have great use cases ready for multiple personas. Create playbooks that explain how to implement and how to know they will get value.
Once your partners have been properly trained and feel confident to sell and integrate your products, they will be more engaged with your brand. Once you show them that there is a demand, engagement goes up again.
This is the perfect time to start co-selling. How do you approach your first few customers? Our customer, Fujitsu, understands that the first few deals for new partners are the most important. So they approach end-users together. Searching their customer base to identify end-users that will be a good fit for the partners. They go through the first sale together, then hand over the end-user to their partner. It’s then up to the partners to grow that account. Show, don’t tell.
Showing how to grow your business together is the ultimate form of partner engagement. Generating revenue together is the best way to get your partnership going.
Now you have the key pillars of your partner program. Once you have made a partner experience that inspires confidence, is fueled by great content, and tailored to your partner’s needs, it’s time for the test drive. Are you on the right track? In the next article, we’ll be exploring how to broaden your partner program and adjust per vertical and per region. Because every partner needs a tailored approach.