How to grow a compelling partner experience

Daisy flower photo

2021 was the year that partner experience (PX) leapt to the forefront of channel strategy and operations. Having spoken with global vendors all year, it’s clear the advent of marketplaces, the emergence of different partner types and the need for better partner interaction has resulted in a strong focus on improving PX.

But how do you build a compelling experience for partners, one that goes way beyond the traditional cyclical initiatives that have permeated channel management for the past 30 years?

Preparing partners for the new SaaS model of the channel

Digital transformation is happening all around us, and both the channel and the software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription-based tech that vendors are selling have changed drastically. In fact, as channel analysis expert Jay McBain discovered, 76% of global CEOs feel their current business models will be unrecognisable in the next five years. We are right in the middle of this channel tech evolution.

A leading SaaS channel model can support digital transformation goals, but how do you prepare partners for this ongoing evolution in the channel?

Firstly, be communicative with your partners, help them understand why this shift is happening, and how SaaS in the channel will help them. From conserving IT infrastructure to adapting to customer market demands, to driving customer success, SaaS helps allow partners to effortlessly deliver a better tech experience and build a satisfied customer base. However, they need to be equipped for different transaction models and enabled to change their own businesses accordingly.

Ultimately, it all comes down to ensuring that we equip partners with the correct tools and knowledge.

Five pillars to achieving a compelling partner experience

Compelling PX is a key driver for growth and is needed to provide great customer experience. Getting it right is crucial to meeting your channel marketing goals.

  • Planning and demand creation rigour: Work with your partners to develop a baked-in, mutually beneficial process that is clear and concise.
  • MDF, lead and deal clarity: Understand that there are different types of partners and be flexible towards their requirements and goals.
  • Incentives for companies and individuals: Incentivise partners through the channel and ensure beneficial outcomes for them (regardless of their size), as well as for individual team members. A blend of both is current best practice.
  • Enablement: Equip and prepare them with the correct tools and knowledge needed to market your products.
  • Channel tech stack: Ensure you are supportive of your partners’ efforts with tech.

As a specialist channel marketing tech agency, we have seen many trends emerge in 2021, but none are bigger than demands from partners for better quality leads, and more of them.

In today’s reality, digital marketing has become imperative to the lead generation of many channels across the world. Scaling lead generation to connect with customers now needs a personal, humanistic approach to ensure you are supporting your partners through this digital shift.

The importance of the tech stack in the PX equation

I spoke with Sugata Sanyal, Zinfi Technologies’ founder and CEO to discuss how to optimise PX to achieve your channel goals and discuss his take on the importance of the tech stack.

Sugata emphasised the importance of supporting partners in all things tech. As a vendor, you need to be sure to bring them along with you on your digital journey. Then when your partners become digitally involved in your portal, watch over your channel community closely and ensure no one gets lost.

Use the channel as an opportunity to educate your partners. Should they need any technical support in your portal, vendors should be prepared to help. Ultimately, partners have engaged with your service to generate revenue. Time is money, and if your processes or tech is too complex, and partners are spending too much time working it out or getting help, then they won’t stick around.

Ask yourself, what processes could I put in place to help my partners digitally? Automation is a great example of digital transformation, the adoption of digital technologies to optimize the way that businesses manage their day-to-day operations, and can help you refine your process and resources. By aligning them, you can ensure your highest-performing partners are getting the most support, and by supporting them more, they will sell more.

Ultimately, if you are going to improve PX then there are a number of key areas to focus on, in tandem. Technology use, programme innovation, renewed demand gen tactics, as well as a focus on supporting SaaS adoption, are key.

Tom Perry is CEO at Sherpa