How to Support Partner Innovation and Why You Should

The needs of customers are constantly changing and partners need to keep up. They need to redefine their offerings and even create new ones. As a vendor, you are more experienced in creating new offerings and your partners are going to look to you for advice and support. 

Giving your partners the support they need creates value for both you and your partners. By helping your partners expand their offerings, you can get more industry coverage than you had previously. You may also be able to expand into new markets. You’ll also create lifetime value for your customers which will keep them coming back. 

How to support your partners

Partners need a lot of things to innovate and expand their offerings. They need money to fund innovation, people to help them innovate, and a lot of knowledge, especially if they’re creating a new product. You’ve gone through the whole process of designing, creating, and launching new products and are the best to help your partners undergo that process themselves. You may even have the budget to help fund their innovation efforts. 

Here are 3 ways you can help your partners innovate.

  1. Create a partner innovation program

Similiar to how startup incubators and small business programs provide resources, money and technology to support startups and small business owners, partner innovation programs are designed to support partner innovation in the same way. These programs may offer business development support to help partners market their new offering. They may also offer technology such as specific software or a sandboxed development environment to help partners develop their new offering. 

  1. See your partners as individual businesses

We’ve talked before about treating your partners as individual businesses. By not treating your partners as an extension of your business, you give them space to grow their capabilities. This lets your partners develop offerings that complement and grow your industry coverage. Also, your partners may develop offerings that allow you to expand into areas that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to expand into otherwise. 

  1. Create a community 

Unlike your partner innovation program, this community will be for you, your partners, your customers and anyone else who works with you. Use this community to start and follow discussions on best practices, common problems people encounter in the industry and things that people wish they could do with their current tech. 

As you and your partners listen and participate in these discussions, you can trade ideas with each other and see what solutions you can come up with. You can then use your partner innovation program to support your partners as they develop these solutions and bring them to market. 

Helping your partners develop new offerings and solutions to current industry issues benefits both your partner and you. These new offerings and solutions can provide more value to both current and new customers ensuring that you’re always top of mind for them. They can also help you gain more industry coverage than you would had otherwise. 

Three ways you can help your partners expand their offerings are by treating them as individual businesses, creating a community for them and others and by creating a partner innovation program. By treating your partners as individual and independent businesses, you give them the space and freedom to develop new offerings that complement your existing ones. By creating a community for them, your customers and other people who work with you, you and your partners get a space to share new innovations, best practices and to listen to common problems that inspire you to create new offerings. Finally, by creating a partner innovation program, you provide your partners the knowledge and support they need to create and bring their new offerings to market. 

Why is GDPR important to the Channel?

his post is part of a series in which we explore how GDPR affects the channel especially when using marketing automation tools. As we’re not legal experts, please consult with your own legal experts for specifics about your situation. 

Why we’re still talking about GDPR

In the past few months, numerous companies have had their security breached and their customer’s data privacy violated. Authorities are cracking down hard on companies who can’t secure their customer’s data and companies are finding that they need to update their data policies and rethink the way they gather and collect data.

While this is great for the consumer, it’s difficult for companies to actually do. It’s especially tricky in the channel space as more than one company handles a consumer’s data. Vendors, partners, and data processors such as marketing automation platforms all share consumer data. Each of these parties must comply with data protection regulations such as GDPR. 

GDPR is the most prominent of these regulations and can be tricky to navigate, especially as it applies to anyone who does business with anyone in Europe. We’ve created a series in which we explore how GDPR affects the channel, especially when using marketing automation tools.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Act protects data belonging to European citizens and residents. It applies to any company that obtains and/or handles personal data belonging to these citizens and residents. This includes processing, storing, and transferring data as well. This is true regardless of where the company is located. So a software company in the US that handles European personal data would still have to comply with GDPR even though they aren’t located in Europe. 

Under GDPR, personal data can only be processed if any of the 6 specified criteria are met. For the channel, those criteria would be

  • Consent has been given
  • Processing data is necessary for the performance of a contract 
  • Legitimate interest

Consent

Like a medical consent form, the consent form for data collection must explicitly state why you are collecting the data, what it’s for, how it will be stored, and for how long it will be stored. This consent must be obtained from anyone whose data is being collected. For the channel, consent must be obtained from the customer/prospect, the partner and the vendor if using a data processor, an entity that processes any data you give it according to your instructions. An example would be Mailchimp who processes your contact lists and sends emails to those contact lists.  

Once consent has been obtained, it must be stored by everyone who interacts with that person’s data. For the channel, the vendor, the partner, and the data processor must keep the consent authorization for their records. Consent must also be renewed on a recurring basis and may be revoked at any time. 

Data Processing 

Under GDPR, data processing includes collecting, recording, storing, etc…pretty much anything you do with data would be considered data processing under GDPR. Examples would be

  • Collecting emails for a mailing list
  • Storing IP addresses for security purposes
  • Storing contact information in a marketing automation platform

Data processing must occur for a specific purpose such as collecting emails for a newsletter mailing list. You can’t just process data for whatever reason; it needs to be specific and clearly defined when asking for consent. 

Legitimate Interest

This is when your personal data is used in a way you would expect. The data collected for this purpose should be necessary for the organization to collect and the benefits of processing it should outweigh the risks. 

An example of this is someone uploading their resume to a job board such as Indeed. In this case, the person who uploaded the resume can expect recruiters, hiring managers and anyone else looking to fill an open position to contact them based on the information provided in the resume. 

Why is GDPR important to the Channel?

Under GDPR everyone who handles the personal data of European citizens and residents must obtain explicit consent in order to use, process, store, or transfer the data. In the channel, there are typically 3 parties involved in obtaining, using, and storing this data. They are the vendor, the partner, and a data processor such as Hubspot. All 3 of these parties must obtain consent from the prospect/customer. This obtained consent must be stored in each party’s records. This means that consent must be obtained from all 3 parties even though the vendor may not even be located in Europe. 

GDPR is tricky for the channel as obtaining explicit consent means that customer/prospect information has to be shared between the vendor and the partner. This is a large concern when using a through-channel marketing automation system as the partner will be sending the vendors’ campaigns to their (the partner’s) mailing lists. Currently, most marketing automation platforms that the channel uses don’t have the network/software architecture necessary to properly separate the partner’s data from the vendor’s data. This data separation is necessary to be GDPR compliant and since most platforms don’t currently have the separation in place, they run the risk of noncompliance. 

What are the consequences of a GDPR violation?

The penalties for violating GDPR are steep. Fines can be 4% of annual global revenue or more than 20 million euros which is roughly equivalent to $24,000,000. These fines are determined by a number of factors such as whether or not the violation was intentional, how soon it was reported, and whether or not the fined company cooperated with the authorities. 

Since data in the channel is handled by more than one party, it’s possible that if one party such as a partner is found to violate GDPR, the other parties such as the vendor may also be violating GDPR. This is why it’s important to ensure that all parties involved are GDPR compliant. 

How do I know if my partners are compliant?

It’s not just you who has to be GDPR compliant, but your partners too. Rather than leave your partner to navigate GDPR compliance by themselves, you should guide your partners through the process of becoming compliant. 

  1. Be on top of regulatory changes

Make sure to keep up to date with any GDPR and other regulatory changes and inform your partners of them in a timely manner. Be sure to check in with your partner at regular intervals to ensure that they remain compliant. These updates can be sent in your regular newsletter. 

  1. Rework your partnership agreement

Your new agreement will need to include a data-sharing clause as GDPR requires any data sharing to be disclosed to the consumer. This clause should outline what data will be collected, how that data will be used, and how it will be stored. It should also state how long the data will be held for and how it will be removed from both parties’ systems.

  1. Educate partners  

There’s a high chance that none of your partners have lawyers on hand to help them figure out how to be compliant. You should educate your partners on what GDPR is, how it affects them, and what the consequences are for violating it. Make sure to share material like checklists that will help them be compliant, host webinars, and provide additional support and training when necessary. 

  1. Establish compliance procedures and metrics

Make sure to lay out some metrics and procedures so that your partners can show you and others that they are GDPR compliant across all their platforms. These procedures and metrics will establish an audit trail that you and your partners can show the authorities if necessary. 

  1. Know when to let the relationship go

It sucks, but sometimes your partners may not want to be GDPR compliant. If that’s the case and you’ve tried everything to make them see that it’s necessary for their business, then it’s time to let them go. There are steep fines for noncompliance and if your partner gets fined, you might get fined as well. This is the last resort step. 

Conclusion

GDPR is the most prominent data protection regulation that affects a large number of companies. Everyone who handles the data of European citizens and residents must comply with it or risk being fined up to 4% of their annual global turnover. Under the regulation, companies must obtain consent to handle a consumer’s data. They must also have a data policy that lays out how they will collect, use, share, store and destroy the data that they obtain. 

For the channel, the vendor, partner, and data processor (ex. A marketing automation platform) must be compliant. Each party must hold a copy of the consumer’s consent and have a data-sharing agreement in place. Vendors can help their partners become compliant by educating partners and establishing compliance procedures and metrics.

Meet Us at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo

The Channel Partners Conference and Expo is happening next week, November 1 – 4 in Las Vegas. For 25 years, the conference has been bringing the latest trends in the channel, new tech, and new ideas that are poised to disrupt the industry. With more than 250 channel vendors attending and a long list of sessions with some of the biggest names in the industry, there’s a lot you can learn. 

Who we’re excited to hear

With a lineup of more than 100 channel experts hosting keynotes and conference sessions, there’s a lot to choose from. Here’s who we’re looking forward to hearing from. 

LinkedIn: The Ultimate Social Media Tool For B2B Marketing

We all know social media’s important. Who among us isn’t on LinkedIn these days? But are we using it to its full potential? 


That’s why we’re excited to hear from Matthew Solomon, Channel Halo’s CEO, on how to use the full potential of LinkedIn for marketing. He offers advice on how to curate and build relationships and how to find the right buyers. This is a good session for both you and your channel partners to attend.

Cybersecurity in a 5G World

Cybersecurity is a hot topic these days and organizations are increasingly looking to boost their defenses against cyberattacks. We’re looking forward to hearing AT&T’s Theresa Lanowitz talk about how organizations are moving to 5G while also increasing their cybersecurity. She also discusses the results from AT&T’s Cybersecurity Insights Report which states that 94.5% of organizations want help in moving to 5G and increasing their security. 

This session is a must for MSPs or anyone else interested in cybersecurity.

How to Keep Customers Safe and Operations Running in a Post-Pandemic World

There’s a lot going on in the world today and the threat of disrupted operations hangs over all of us.  Speaker Jasmina Muller, Everbridge’s VP of Global Channel Partnerships, joins panelists Cheryl Neal (Tech Data), Janet Schijns(JS Group), and Paul Spencer (T-Mobile) for a discussion on how channel leaders can keep people safe and operations running during times of disruption. They’ll also discuss how automation solutions can help organizations rapidly respond to disruption and keep operations running. 

This is a must for anyone who doesn’t want their operations to even blip during times of disruption.

Who we’re hoping to meet

There’s a lot of people we’re hoping to meet at the conference, you included. We’re really excited to meet anyone interested in growing with their partners and would love to talk to them about using automation to help that growth. If you’re one of those people, let our team know through the official conference app or through our calendly here

We’re really excited about this conference and hope to see you there. If you can’t make the conference, keep an eye on the Channel Partners website for highlights. If you want to meet us, but have something else planned next week, our clalendly has other dates available. 

The True Measure of Partner Engagement

Partner engagement is how you know that your partners are invested in you and your products. If your partners are engaged with you and your content, it’s a sign that things are going well. If they’re not, then it’s time to talk to them and figure out what’s going on. 

So how do you measure partner engagement? If you’re like most companies, you do it through the number of times they logged into your partner portal and the number of times they downloaded content. Those metrics are good. They show that your partner is at least logging in and looking at the content you give them, but they’re not the best to measure partner engagement. 

For one thing, they don’t show you if your partners are using your content. Are they sending your lead magnets as campaigns? Is the downloaded content just sitting on their hard drive? Measuring the number of downloads and tracking the number of logins doesn’t tell you that. 

How to actually measure partner engagement

There are 4 metrics that really give you an idea of how engaged your partners are. These metrics measure the actions your partner takes with the materials you give them and lets you know how frequently they take those actions. What each of these metrics measure will be unique to each company, but here are some broad examples. 

  1. Marketing Activities

This metric measures how much partners marketing your partners do on your behalf. Do they send out an email campaign to their customers when you introduce a new product? Do they promote your joint event through social media, email, or both? Are they keeping in touch with their customers via a newsletter that includes your best practices? The more marketing activities your partners do, the more mindshare you have. 

  1. Lead Generation

This metric measures how many leads your partners share with you. If your partner isn’t sharing a lot of leads with you, then it’s time to talk to them. It may be as simple as your criteria for a qualified lead not matching your partner’s criteria or as complicated as your partner feeling that you wouldn’t treat their customer well. 

  1. Social Sales

This metric measures the types of sales and marketing activities your partners conduct and gives your partners an activity score. For example, you may measure the number of cold calls your partners do along with the number of marketing campaigns they send. The higher this measurement, the more engaged your partners are. 

  1. Partner Meetings

This metric measures how often your partner does marketing and sales activities. It takes into account how frequently they have discovery calls, how often they send out campaigns, and how often they cold call prospects. It also measures how often they meet with you. This measurement shows you how communicative your partners are with you and with their prospects. 

xAmplify vs PRMs

xAmplify is a PRM and Through Channel Marketing Automation  (TCMA) platform. Due to this, we measure engagement differently than most PRMs. Most PRMs store partner education material and sales and marketing content. As a result, engagement is typically measured through the number of times the partner logs into the PRM and by the number of downloads for each piece of content. 

With the TCMA features of xAmplify, we measure how many of your campaigns your partner has redistributed. We’ve found campaign redistribution to be a reliable indicator of partner engagement because it shows what your partners are doing with the campaigns you give them. You know your partners are sending them out to their contacts and how often they’re doing it. 

For more about campaign redistribution and the platform, schedule a demo

Conclusion

To truly measure partner engagement, you need to track 4 metrics: marketing activities, lead generation, social sales, and partner meetings. Tracking marketing activities shows you how much your partners are marketing on your behalf. If they’re launching event campaigns to promote every single one of your events, sending their customers an update every time you have a product release, and constantly promoting your new products then they’re as excited as you are about you. 

Tracking lead generation lets you know how successful partners are at generating leads and sharing them with you. If they’re generating and sharing a lot of leads with you, they’re a highly engaged partner with a lot of confidence in how you’ll treat their customers. Tracking social sales shows you how willing your partners are to market and sell your products. 

Finally, tracking partner meetings gives you an idea of how your relationship with your partner currently is. If they’re always receptive to meeting you and proactively asking you for meetings, then you’ve got a great relationship. If they keep brushing you off and never want to meet with you, then you have a problem. 

These 4 metrics will give you a great overview of how engaged your partners are with you and how great your relationship with them is. If you want to learn more about these metrics and how xAmplify can help you measure them, schedule a demo.

Make Them Famous!: 25 Podcast Review

Make Them Famous podcast has been around for a while and unless you have a day or half-day free, you’re not going to be able to get through all the episodes. The good news is their latest episode recaps the first 25 episodes and gives you the most important information they’ve learned. 

Here’s some things we learned when listening to the episode. 

  • Providing joint value to your customers is a better way to build a relationship with your partner
  • Focusing your partner program solely on revenue can lead to partner burnout
  •  Once you sign on a partner, immediately show them value. Then, when they want to reciprocate, you can move on to asking them for things you need
  • Implementation partners actually know what your customers actually do with your product and can best help your customers best optimize your product. This can help gain a customer for life!
  • Start working on your partnership even before you and your partner sign the partnership contract

If you’ve got an hour to spare, it’s a great episode to listen to. Get it here.

2 Strategies to Resolve Deal Conflicts Between Partners

Having a relationship with your partner is like having a relationship with your significant other. It’s stressful when you have conflicts and those conflicts aren’t always as simple as who was supposed to walk the dog. They’re more complicated, can involve multiple people, and don’t have a solution that makes everyone happy. 

Here’s a scenario. You’ve got two partners. Both partners have been in your partner program for a while. Partner A is a highly engaged partner who registers a large number of deals with you. Partner B is not as engaged and has only registered a few deals since the beginning of their contract. 

Today, both partners have registered a deal for the exact same company. What do you do? Which partner should you give the deal to? Should you give the deal to a partner? What factors should you consider? What conflict resolution strategies should you use?  No matter what happens, one of your partners is going to be upset. This is the type of conflict that can make or break your relationship. 

This is a common channel conflict scenario. Knowing what factors you should consider and what kinds of conflict resolution strategies you can apply will give you more tools to make your decision. 

Factors to Consider

  1. The customer 

How much you focus on the customer will depend on what type of partnership you have. If your partners are just selling to your customer and the customer is coming to you for product support, then you’ll want to make sure that your potential customer doesn’t get frustrated with you and your partners. 

On the other hand, if your partners are the ones selling to and servicing your potential customer, then you’ll want to remind them that the potential customer should be their priority and that winning over the customer is what they should be focusing on more than the conflict with the other partner. This will matter more in a scenario where your potential customer is contacted by both partners and both partners are letting their feelings get to them and may be promising the customer things they can’t do just to make themselves look better than the other partner. 

  1. Which partner is likely to get the deal

Some of your partners have a better chance of closing a deal than others. They could have a better sales team, a personal connection to the customer, a better offer than another partner, ect…You want to give the deal to a partner who’s more likely to succeed in landing the customer. 

  1. Your relationship with your partners

Is there a way you can make both your partners happy and possibly strengthen your relationship with them? Perhaps you can give both partners the commission from the registered deal while letting one partner have the customer. 

What really matters is demonstrating that you’re working with the partner’s best interests in mind. If you give the deal to one partner, help the other partner (the one you didn’t give the deal to) find another customer. Share a few leads with them, offer your support, whatever you do make sure the partner knows you’ve got their back. 

Conflict resolution strategies to apply

  1. Be consistent with policy and procedures

You  probably have policies and procedures outlined in your partner program for situations like this. Those will provide a useful guide as to what you should do. Being consistent with these policies and procedures ensures that even your partners who aren’t in conflict know what the basis is behind your decisions. It also may lessen the chances of hurt feelings as partners know you’re making decisions based on policies and procedures regardless of your actual relationship with them. 

  1. Move the process along

Sometimes your partners will get stuck on a certain point. Perhaps they’re going back and forth with you about who got to the customer first or that they can provide better service than the other partner. Whatever it is, being stuck on that particular point will not help the process along. 

If the process drags on for long enough, it will start to take time away from more important business activities. This is the point where you step in and tell your partners that you can revisit the point at a later date or that there’s some policy that requires things to be the way they are. This strategy shouldn’t be used at the very beginning of the conflict, but instead should be used if it appears that the conflict is going to continue over a long period of time. 

Conclusion

Conflicts with your partners aren’t easy to solve, but there’s two strategies that you can use to try and resolve the conflict. First, be consistent with your own policies and procedures. These help guide you in making a decision and may reduce hurt feelings as your partners know how you’re making your decisions. Second, move the process along. This is another good strategy as the conflict can drag on if your partners get stuck on a particular point. If it drags on for long enough, it’ll start to take time away from more important activities. These two strategies will help prevent the conflict from dragging out over a long period of time and may help lessen any hurt feelings that inevitably come with the process.  

Why you should survey your channel partners

Your channel partners aren’t your customers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send them the occasional survey. Partner surveys can be a great way to see how your partners feel about you, your product and your partner program. They can also be a good way to refine your partner profile and get some insight on which kinds of partners are the best for your program. They can also help you get an idea of how partners are navigating events such as the pandemic or regulatory changes such as GDPR. 

Reasons to survey your channel partners

 Like surveying your customers, there’s many reasons to survey your partners. Here’s 3 important ones. 

  1. To see how they feel about you

Are your partners happy with you? Are there things you could be doing better? Asking your partners will help you spot any issues before they arise and you can fix them before they lead to larger issues. 

  1. To see how they feel about your product

Your partners are selling or servicing your product, so getting their feedback lets you know what issues customers run into when using the product. That feedback can also suggest new features for you to add in your next product or your next product update. 

  1. To learn more about them

You may already have this information from your initial talks with them, but it’s worth revisiting. How many of your partners were able to hire more employees? How many of them are able to forecast their sales for the next quarter? Knowing more about your partners will help you determine the amount of support they need. It’ll also help you build or refine your partner persona. 

What to do with your partner’s responses

The partners who take the time to write detailed responses to your questions are going to be more engaged than the partners who just give you a star rating. But, both types of partners are going to be more engaged than the partners who didn’t respond to the survey at all. Make a note of this as you can add it to the rest of your partner engagement metrics. 

When you sort through the responses, make a note of what types of things come up frequently. Do 45% of your partners lack a sales process? Then it might be time to organize a webinar or another type of training on how to create one. Do 85% of your partners say they’re happy with the incentives you give them? Great! You don’t need to do a thing. Knowing what comes up frequently allows you to adjust parts of your partner program if necessary. It also lets you know what you’re doing well and can help you learn how your partners are keeping up with your industry. 

Sharing these results with your partners and letting them know how you’re using the results will help you be transparent with your partners. They may even offer some suggestions as to how to improve things and offer suggestions on things you didn’t ask about in your survey. 

How often should you survey your partners

You can’t just survey your partners once and be done with it. You should survey your partners over a period of time to see how engaged your partners are, to be able to spot any trends that occur and to see what effect the changes you made had on your partners. 

How often you send a survey will define its length. If you’re sending a survey every quarter then it will be shorter than a survey you send every year. You don’t want to send long surveys very often as your partners will get tired of filling them out. 

Here’s 3 best practices for sending surveys. 

  1. Make your surveys easy to answer

Don’t just give them a question and expect them to write an essay. No one has time for that. Instead give them multiple choice questions, ask them to rate something on a scale of 1-5 or ask them to agree/disagree with a statement. 

  1. Send them frequently, but not too frequently

Time is valuable and no one wants to spend it answering surveys. Make sure you’re sending surveys on a frequent enough basis to be able to spot trends. But at the same time make sure they’re not frequent enough to annoy your partners. Annual surveys would be the sweet spot here as you can make them strategic and pass the results along to your executive team. 

  1. Make your surveys anonymous

This doesn’t mean you can’t gather demographic information about your partners. It just means that you shouldn’t ask them for specifics such as their company name. Anonymizing surveys is the best way to get honest responses. People are more comfortable giving feedback, especially if it’s negative, if they know you won’t know who they are. 

Conclusion

Surveying your partners is a great way to see how engaged they are. It’s also a good way to see how they feel about your partner program and your product. Using the data you get from the responses to your survey, you can spot trends and see how many of your partners may need additional training on your product or additional sales and marketing support. Surveys should be sent consistently and should be quick and easy for your partners to fill out. 

Speaking of surveys, we’d like to introduce to you xAmplify’s new survey feature. Integrated with the rest of our platform, you can automatically send your partners a survey without having to configure a new tool. Survey data is automatically collected and generated in an easy-to-read report that you can share with your team. Schedule a demo to learn more.

How to Quickly Ramp Up a New Channel Manager

The relationship you have with your channel partners is the backbone of your partner program. Having a good relationship means that both you and your partners are invested in each other’s success. As a result, you and your partners are equally involved in driving that success. 

So what exactly is a channel partner relationship and how do they work? And what happens when your current channel manager leaves? How do you ramp up your new channel manager fast enough?

The channel partner relationship

Channel partner relationships are mutually beneficial relationships. Your channel partners market and sell your products to their customers. You get more market share and revenue without having to invest in hiring and training new people. Your channel partners get more customers and revenue by selling your products, offering related products and services or by doing both. These partnerships allow both you and your partner to grow.

These relationships will look different for each company and for each channel manager-partner pair involved, but they all have some things in common. These are actual relationships with actual people. 

First, your channel partners aren’t a faceless company that you can ask to sell your products, but are actual people with their own interests and motivations. You have to get to know your channel partners on a personal level. Due to current circumstances, this relationship building will look different than in the past, but there are still ways to get to know your channel partners. Events such as virtual happy hours and virtual coffee meetings can help you get to know your partners better and start building a good relationship. 

Second is consistently supporting your partners. Some channel managers schedule weekly check-ins with their partners while others do one every two weeks. Those regular, consistent check-ins allow you to catch up with your partners, answer any questions and resolve any issues. Sometimes, this also involves your channel managers sitting in partner’s sales meetings and helping to assist in forming a sales or marketing strategy. 

As you can see channel partner relationships take a lot of work. Once you’ve built that relationship with your channel partners, you have to maintain it. 

But what happens if your current channel manager leaves? Your partner may not want to work with a new channel manager, may think that the previous channel manager was better or may even follow the old channel manager to their new company. Your new channel manager will have to start the relationship from scratch. 

What happens when your current channel manager leaves?

For many people this is a familiar scenario. Your current channel manager found a better opportunity elsewhere, went on maternity leave, moved to a different part of the country, got promoted, ect…whatever the reason, you now need a new channel manager.

 Here’s the problem. 

Your new channel manager won’t know how to work with your partners from Day 1. They’ll need some time to get up to speed. But, you and your partners don’t have that time. So how do you ramp them up quickly? 

How to quickly ramp up your new channel manager

You need a process that’s both efficient and comprehensive. This will minimize disruption and ensure a smoother transition from one channel manager to another. But what do you need in this process? Building relationships takes time and effort but there are a few things you can do to bring your new channel manager up to speed.

  1. Understand the partner

 The very first thing your channel manager has to do is understand the partner. They need to know the partner’s strengths and weaknesses, what products they offer and their history. They also need to know what kinds of opportunities the partner wants and any issues that could prevent them from capitalizing on those opportunities. 

Your new manager should spend as much time with the partner as possible in order to understand them and their business. This can be through having regular conversations with the partner or shadowing them during their day to day. This gives your partner a good first impression of your new manager and gets their relationship off to a good start.  

  1. Have consistent partner expectations

Share your partner program information with your new manager. Ensure that they know what your company expects from your partners. What are your metrics to measure partner engagement? How do you track those metrics? Share that information with them. Doing so brings your new manager’s expectations in line with your partners and minimizes any confusion that may occur. 

  1. Give them their partner data

Unless you assign your new manager a new partner, you’re giving them a partner who’s been with you for a while. What campaigns did that partner run?  How many times did they meet with their previous channel manager? Do you have a history of their activities that you can give your new manager? Your new manager will need to know all of these things. Make sure to give them access to this data. This will allow your new manager to familiarize themselves with your partner’s history with your company and see how they can help your partner succeed. 

  1. Communicate your expectations for them

While you have to ensure that your expectations for your partners are consistent and communicated to your new manager, you also need to communicate your expectations for them. How many partners will they work with? Are they expected to help recruit partners? What type of guidance will you give them? You probably went over this in the hiring process, but it doesn’t hurt to go over it again. 

How xAmplify helps ramp up your new channel manager

xAmplify is a PRM+TCMA platform. It has all the features you’ll find in your typical PRM combined with the automation features of a TCMA platform. 

The platform tracks your partners’ activity within the platform and with our new team update, makes it easier to ramp up your new channel manager. Your new manager will be able to see your partner’s history with you and get a sense of their strengths and weaknesses. 

When you ramp up a new channel manager, you can ease the transition by giving your new manager access to the same information that the previous channel manager had. This can be done by assigning the new channel manager to the same group as their predecessor. The new manager will then be able to see the partner’s history on the platform and any notes that the previous manager had taken. This will get them up and running. 

Schedule a demo to learn more.

Conclusion

Channel partnerships are mutually beneficial relationships between you and your channel partners. You get to expand your market reach and gain revenue while your channel partners get more customers and revenue. These relationships are also personal relationships between channel managers and partners and take time to build. 

When channel managers leave, it’s difficult for new managers to rebuild that relationship. It also takes time to ramp them up. To make that process faster, you need to ensure that your partner expectations stay consistent. You also need to make sure your expectations for your new channel manager are communicated clearly. Finally, you need to ensure that your new manager has access to all the necessary information and systems they need to get up to speed. 

PartnerUP Podcast: How Drift builds trust in partnerships

In the latest PartnerUP episode, Jason Yarborough shares his partnership framework. Yarborough joins Drift, a chat bot and revenue acceleration company, as the new Head of Tech Partnerships. They also give a quick shoutout to the Cloud Software Association where PartnerUP host Jared Fuller will be teaching a masterclass in October. 

Here’s what we learned.

  • Partnerships are an accelerated way of creating trust with your partner’s customers
  • Partners like it when you treat them as advisors and give them access to more than just your marketing and sales teams. Get them involved with your product development team or share your roadmap. Giving your partners access to these things reinforces the trust you have in them and allows them to add additional value. 
  • Understand how you help your partners solve a problem. What solution are your partners trying to provide their customers? How does your product fit into that process?

Get the episode here

Do PRMs Still Work for Today’s Channel Landscape?

In our previous post, we talked about what PRMs were and the benefits of using them. However, with the channel landscape changing, do PRMs still give you the same benefits or is it time to try something different? In this post, we discuss how your partners actually use PRMs, the challenges of the modern channel landscape and what tools your partners might need now. 

How PRMs are actually used

When you check your partners metrics in your PRM do you notice a trend? Are your partners excited early and logging in frequently but then dropping off? Have they complained that your PRM can’t find information, there isn’t anything new, implementing marketing plans is challenging? For a lot of vendors, this is a familiar scenario. 

PRMs are meant to improve your partners’ productivity as they provide the material needed for partners to sell a vendor’s product. But in reality, partners spend hours trying to find the material they need and even more trying to figure out what they should be doing with it. 

The modern channel landscape

The channel landscape has come a long way since the 1990’s. Products take less time to implement and partners are starting to switch from being resellers to managed service providers, who offer support and best practices for their customers. These providers become consultants for their customers, providing information about the products their customers are interested in and helping them find the best fit for their needs. 

Customer demands are changing at a rapid pace and the successful companies are the ones who can keep up. This involves actively collaborating and eliminating friction areas with partners to seize new opportunities, drive growth and generate revenue.

The easier companies can make marketing their products for partners means greater activations and more companies selling their products and services. Key ways they can do this by co-branding, co-selling, complete marketing plans and automation. A typical PRM just isn’t designed for this type of collaboration. 

Going beyond a PRM

Today’s companies need to use platforms that are intuitive and easy for their partners to use. It needs to have the best features of a PRM, while making it easy to market and co-sell. This tool is a combined PRM and Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) platform.

TCMA platforms enable companies to send campaigns and other marketing messages through their partners instead of just handing the messaging to partners and expecting them to figure it out for themselves. These platforms let companies easily and quickly collaborate with partners as partners can add their own material to their vendor’s campaigns. They also allow partners to easily leverage their own networks through the integrations they offer. 

A combined PRM and TCMA platform enables partners to find everything they need in one place. It contains both the benefits of a PRM and the automation of a TCMA platform enabling a partner’s workflow to be seamless. Partners get to learn about their vendor’s product, then use that information to better market their services in co-branded campaigns.  

Here at xAmplify, we were partners once. We thought PRMs were outdated and weren’t designed for how channel partnerships were evolving. That’s why we built xAmplify.

Our platform offers

  • Cross channel and partner activity tracking

Our platform provides detailed and comprehensive analytics on how your partners are using marketing campaigns and the downstream metrics for those campaigns. Plus you get to compare activity across partners. 

  •  Co-branded campaigns 

When you send your campaigns through your partner, our platform automatically inserts your brand and your partner’s logo into video, email, social, event and landing page campaigns. 

  • Seamless syncing with Salesforce

Leads, deals and activity automatically syncs your CRM without any manual entry or customization. 

To learn more about our platform, schedule a demo

Conclusion

PRMs have their place. They’re excellent for storing marketing and sales materials and training partners. They are not designed for the future of the channel sales. PRM +TCMA platform is designed for evolution. These platforms are built for collaboration, marketing and sales. 

Free Book, No Catch, Limited Quantity

Ronnell Richards’ Shut the Hell Up and Sell book helps business owners learn effective and innovative sales techniques. He also discusses the lessons he has learned during his lengthy sales career and how anyone can level up their sales game.

Great resource to share with MSPs, Resellers and other Partners.