Traditional partner management has run its course. Managing transactions, such as deal registration or partner onboarding, is not enough anymore. Driving them, generating demand, is essential, especially in this increasingly competitive world.
Without biting the hand that fed your channel all these years, it’s time to reform your management style if you want to stay in the game. Don’t waste your time trying to predict the future of partner management. We got you. It’s about knowing your partners, learning how to communicate better and providing opportunities.
Know your partners
There shall be no more guessing in the future. You’ll need to grasp what your partners need and desire if you want to engage them. Catch this! It will bring a double benefit. Knowing your partners means getting closer to your end-users since they’re the ones interacting with them.
Follow them on social media
What you share and interact with online can reveal insights about your personality, your political leanings, what your priorities and difficulties are, how you feel about yourself, and even where you physically are at any given moment. Imagine knowing so much about your partners. That’s only one click away. Hit “Subscribe” on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, wherever your partners are active. Professionally of course! It’s not about invading their privacy.
Review their activity
That sounds a bit stalky… But it’s necessary to see what sparks your partners’ interests. What campaigns are they participating in the most, what content do they interact with the most, how often and when do they log in. Data holds the truth. Always. Consulting the impact metrics can also help you to recognize partners who are about to churn and prevent it from happening.
Involve their whole team
Encourage your partners to invite their marketing and sales colleagues to also connect with you. This will give you a greater picture of their organization and culture as well as extra ways to reach them. A member of the team you didn’t think of could actually be the one pushing the partnership at the end.
In the future, we may be able to communicate by sending our thoughts through a network directly into someone else’s brain. But for now, nobody’s guessing what you have in mind. This is why it’s important to make your message clear, especially when there’s such a wide range of receivers on the other end.
Choose the right tool
You wouldn’t use smoke signals to tell your friend to pass the salt right? Of course not. You’d ask nicely or point at it and nod. The first step to great communication is doing it via the right medium. So plump for an option wisely, based on the amount of partners you want to reach, their time-zone and language. Conference call, email, social media, portal notification… Pick your poison.
Share information at the right time
Frequent, relevant and timely communication makes a big difference in partner engagement. A common mistake is communicating the campaign to partners too late or without everything they need to make it a success. Nobody likes to receive last-minute warnings. The best time to announce a new campaign is two weeks in advance. That way there is time to discuss the campaign internally and request small changes to make it more appealing to their end-users. Remember to also explain the idea behind the campaign and what you hope to achieve together.
Start a conversation
Channel budgets and campaigns are hitting a brick wall and are not reaching end-users. It’s time to bring back conversation within your channel. And one way to do that is allowing your partners to give you feedback : via a NPS questionnaire, a quarterly email campaign, or comments and likes directly on your portal.
Partners have multiple vendors to choose from. To stand out, you’ll need to offer them something extra. By extra, we mean opportunities : to grow, to learn, to generate more revenue, to participate actively in the campaigns, to feel seen and heard… Make their future look like an open window and collect the benefits.
Learning broadens horizons and encourages self-development. Provide knowledge for your partners. About your brand of course, since they have to promote it. But about other stuff too! It should stay fun. With their new skills, they might be able to identify new opportunities for your organization, or identify more efficient ways of working.
Co-marketing and co-selling
Your partners’ own services and products can add value to your own proposition so work together towards success plans. End-users are hungry for exhaustive solutions. Co-marketing with your partners could be the way to empower the chance needed to drive growth for both parties. You just recruited new partners? What better way to seal the deal on this partnership than by making a sale together? Approach your first few end-users together to show them how it works! Your partners will appreciate it.
Your partners work with and for you. They put their own expertise to your service and make you look good in the eyes of end-users when distributing your products. They’re doing one hell of a job which is why it’s important to show them you’re grateful to collaborate with them. How about partner incentives? You could provide points, discounts, exclusive sales, and advance access to newly released products or campaigns. No matter what form you pick, it’s all about the gesture.
The future of partner management shall meet the needs of all parties and drive performance. Data-driven and conversational, it will help you to create strong and long-lasting relationships. Let’s reimagine the partner experience together.