We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. View our Privacy Policy.

Yes, Channel Partner Engagement Is As Low You As You Think It Is

Experts report that partner engagement is flagging. In a world where the tools for engagement are more intuitive and plentiful than ever, why is the case?

Relayware Partner Relationship Management

Yes, Channel Partner Engagement Is As Low You As You Think It Is

And What You Can Do About It

By Karren Gurnhill

In all of my readings and meetings that I have been a part of, I can see that the future of marketing is going to be predicated on automated systems. I have learned about the history of automating sales with CRM software and automating marketing with marketing automation. And I have been witnessing the onslaught of interest in partnering automation.

Part of the channel partner lifecycle is partner engagement, which is always a hot topic in the channel management world because of its undeniable tie to retention, loyalty and revenue. However, leading experts are now reporting that partner engagement is flagging. SiriusDecisions’ research shows that program adoption by partners can be as low as 20%, which is an alarming statistic for such a revenue-critical indicator.

In a world where the tools for engagement are more intuitive and plentiful than ever, why is the case? And more importantly, how can you use these tools to improve engagement? While the answer is multi-faceted and complex, it comes down to successfully engaging partners in the global attention economy. To give this topic justice, we’re covering this in two parts. First up – 5 quick and easy pointers.

1. Have One Integrated, Intuitive Partner Portal

Your partner portal is an essential element to building an engaged channel ecosystem. It should be the central to all channel interactions. But that’s your point of view, not your partners’ reality.

It’s more important than ever to implement a robust, centralized portal that meets your partner’s needs. Research indicates that channel partners today are committed to more suppliers than every before, and they are interfacing with up to 4 systems per supplier.

Therefore, if you provide one single system for all of your channel communications, you increase the likelihood that your partners will stay engaged with you.

2. Quality Is Far More Important Than Quantity

Your channel partners receive hundreds of messages every day, and they ignore most of them. A 3% open rate is the average for outbound channel communications.

If partners feel they are getting too much canned or irrelevant content, they will ignore you. Today, quality and relevance is more important than quantity. Make your communications discriminate, fresh, relevant and highly personalized on the basis of industry, partner status, geography and language.

3. Personalize Your Partner Communications

The key to breaking out of the pack and getting the most out of your channel lies in personalization. A truly engaging communication is one that comes in response to something that partner has done. Consider the following:

“I noticed you’ve just registered a deal on our new product. Congratulations! Here are the products we’ve seen the most success in cross selling with that sale. Please find below quote templates and other materials that have helped make the sale in other regions.”

This type of personalized communication will increase the response rate from your partners and increase their momentum.

Delivering engaging content at the right time is only one part of the equation. Personalization does not require profit-choking manpower. With the right strategy, content and cloud-provisioned technology to manage partner relationships, the routine parts of this engagement, such as the noticing of action and the customized responses, can be automated -- mass customization -- a practice that has been used to improve relevance and results in the fields of marketing and sales automation for years.

Next generation Partner Relationship Management solutions (PRM), know as Partnering Automation lets you set the rules and see the results in dashboards while ensuring a seamless partner experience throughout your channel. This connects all the dots for you and partners across each interaction they have from completing training to sending out a marketing campaign to registering a deal. You and your partner will be smarter.

4. Mobile Optimization Is a MUST

Your best channel partners are mobile -- out and about meeting with customers and building your business. In order to serve partners wherever they are, adapt your communications to a mobile context.

Research indicates that partners leverage mobile channel resources for on-demand pricing, support, lead distribution and business intelligence. Make sure that you are delivering the same content, with the same value, through ALL devices.

5. Increase Your Engagement Offerings

Three to four years ago, only a few vendors provide two or more traditional partner engagement initiatives for their channel, such as incentives, training and certification, MDF and tiering. In recent years, more and more vendors have expanded their offerings to include most or all of these programs. You’ll need to raise the bar for engagement initiatives, because the historical sources of differentiation are no longer different, and today, engagement is not only the business of the mature channel.

We’ll talk more about partner engagement in part 2 next week.