Demand generation campaigns tend to be the primary focus of many channel marketing programs, yet partner enablement and education plays an equally important if not more important role. Partner education is a critical element of any channel marketing program and is a key lever you have to impact sales volumes through the channel. Exploiting the right partner enablement tactics can have a huge impact on the revenue performance of your channel program. One fundamental theme you will see throughout this post, is to keep the barrier's to education as low as possible. Partner education should not be an obstacle course that you force them to run through, it should be easy, helpful, and rewarding. Here are six simple tips to consider to help enable your partners and differentiate your channel program.
Make it Free
Many vendors look to cover the costs of educating their channel reps by charging fees for education, they miss a huge opportunity when they take this approach. Making it as easy as possible for your channel partner representatives to learn about your products is in your best interest. Charging for education creates barriers that you don't need. That is not to say you don't need to look at the economic model for your channel and understand how you will cover all of your costs, including educating your partners. However, you can do that without building a model that creates any form of financial disincentive to taking education about your products.
Be a Thought Leader
Build into your partner education roadmap broader thought leadership and industry education. This will encourage your channel partners to stay aligned with you and promote your offerings. They will value the skill development and knowledge they receive and in turn you will have a more loyal set of channel partners. This does require an investment in content development beyond producing basic product collateral, but it will create a more loyal channel and can provide a significant return.
Keep it Social and Mobile
In today's environment you need to look at ways to leverage social networking and mobile technologies to reach your partner audience. Old style face to face classroom education or expensive conferences may still have a place in your overall channel plan depending on your requirements, but today you need to take advantage of mobile and social technologies. This will force you to rethink how you format educational content, but give you much deeper reach.
Leverage Rich Media
There are so many rich media tools on the marketplace today to help make education easy and more interesting, you need to understand what tools are available and take advantage of them. Taking advantage of video capabilities, mobile applications, virtual networking events, and new presentation tools are all alternatives to just producing volumes of PowerPoint charts. The type of content you produce needs to be tied to how the content will be delivered.
Don't Forget Marketing Education
Many channel partner firms have limited marketing resources to design and build all their marketing from scratch. Educating them not just on what marketing collateral is available, but providing them the education on best practices and new ways to improve marketing yields. A marketing concierge service is another way to supplement basic marketing progams and educate your partners on delivering high impact marketing programs.
Loyalty and Training Incentives
You may also want to consider loyalty and training incentives for the sales reps in your partner firms. This isn't the right answer for every channel program, but if you need to drive cross selling across your product line then providing incentives for cross training can be a productive approach.
Each channel program is different, but these are six tactics you should consider as you build out your partner enablement plans. The important factor is still to make it easy, helpful, and rewarding.
Pereion Solutions specializes in channel consulting and services, please click here if you would like to be contacted about specific approaches to improve partner enablement in your firm.