How to Capture Partner Mindshare
As a channel manager, you are only as successful as the partners selling your product. So how do you make channel partners see the benefits of focusing on the sale of your product(s)? How do you rise above all the noise in the market?
People notice entities that can help them solve a problem. Helping partners create progress, make sales and serve customers are powerful motivators. How can your channel program help partners be more successful?
- Understand Who Your Partners Are.
You can’t really know how your product will help partners grow their business until you actually understand their business.
Good partners engage in some level of strategic planning every year. Try to be part of that conversation, to understand what the company is trying to accomplish so that you can better articulate how your product can help partners execute on that strategic plan. Ultimately, your relative level of importance to them is directly related to how much of their business you’re going to constitute.
When you really understand who your partners are, you can better target those that are best equipped to support your goals as well. Profiling partners allows you to build a bank of data over time to help you know which types of partners best maximize mutual success.
This is where PRM (Partner Relationship Management) software comes in, enabling you to easily collect data around
Track your results and you begin to really understand which vendors are best served by your product – and that in return best serve your goals. You have a finite amount of energy to put into your channel and you want to put it into the partners that are the right fit.
- Develop Collateral and Templates that Are Useful and Easy to Access.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Always be prepared with a partner portal that is full of ready to use marketing strategies partners can execute on so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If they feel like they have to create content before they can get out and sell your thing, they won’t bother. Have ready-made website content available for partners to use with their own marketing.
People want access to training and sales materials in a way so that it’s there when they need it. Again, this can be accomplished with a PRM system like
- Make the Process of Working with Your Company as Easy and Simple as Possible.
Capturing mindshare is also a function of how easy it is for partners to work with your company. As much as possible, eliminate friction from your processes.
If it takes partners more than a minute or two to register deals, you’ve already inserted too many hoops. If utilization of your MDF is so structured that the partner needs an accounting degree to figure out how to get reimbursed, you’ve prevented them from marketing your product. People avoid hard work –you don’t want partners associating your product with hard work.
Does your partner need help closing a big deal? Make sure they know that you’re there for them in those types of situations. It benefits everyone.
Highly structured or very rigid channel programs deny the fact that one size may not fit all partners. The reason you have partners is to empower them, to learn from what they're doing, and to be part of managing that process.
Just keep things simple and measurable. Measure only the few metrics you need to support partners in selling your product.
- Always Be Building the Relationship.
Make yourself available to partners. Be an advocate for them. Go above and beyond – to truly gain mindshare, it helps when partners remember how much you’ve helped them.
Go above and beyond when you can. Analyzing the industry? Share valuable strategic feedback and let partners know if you’re seeing an industry trend. When they feel like you are looking out for their success, you establish a strong relationship.
And don’t make the relationship so quid pro quo or transactional. The fact is, if you give more you'll receive tenfold in return. A mutually beneficial relationship is what you’re really after. Being able to capture partner mindshare is just a symptom of a relationship that’s serving both parties.