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Relayware Partner Relationship Management

Managing Training Manually Means Missed Opportunities

Posted on March 5, 2014 by Chris Bucholtz

Training is one of the critical concerns for businesses selling through the channel. After all, an army of resellers reaching out to the public with a faulty understanding of your products and a cursory knowledge of how to service them is a liability, not an asset. Without training, they can create a mess that the vendor then has to clean up.

Luckily, reseller partners don’t want to make messes, and so the smart ones look for vendors with established, organized and easy-to-use training systems. And some vendors actually have them!

That’s a joke – sort of. Most vendors have an internal understanding of what they want their partners to learn, and the construction of learning resources starts early on in their channel efforts. However, management of these programs trails behind the creation of strategy and the development of training materials – and if the vendor doesn’t quickly develop a method for administering, tracking, and grading these materials, and then issuing accreditations and certifications, the emphasis will quickly shift from training to administration.

That’s a problem when you attempt to manage training in a manual way – the tasks needed to track partners’ training activity become an enormous drain on your resources. This has three problems. First, your focus is increasingly diverted from the educational content of your program to administering the program, keeping you from refining, expanding and further developing your partners’ understanding of your products.

Second, as the issuance of accreditations and certifications is delayed by manual management, partners become frustrated and may look for other vendors whose training processes are more streamlined. If a partner is in the hunt for a deal that requires him to have certification, and your manual process delays certification to the point that it costs the partner the deal, you can bet that partner will be looking for alternative vendors.

The third problem is one of visibility – the vendor’s visibility into the partners’ progress. A manual approach demands tunnel vision – the person administering training focuses on keeping track of the many moving parts. But other parts of the training program can draw from what’s going on in training. For example, if you have a new product, does it make sense to feed more leads to partners who have completed training on that product? If the answer is yes, the next question is, “how do you do that without tying training management to lead management?” If you’re managing both processes manually, the answer involves hard work and more of a time investment.

The same goes for retention of key partners. If you’re managing training in a manual way, can you detect changes in the amount of training key partners are seeking or completing? A dip in their involvement with training might suggest that their relationship with your business is cooling. Some communication with these partners might rekindle their enthusiasm for you, or at least clarify what their situations are. But, again, spotting this with manual management of training is very difficult.

You always want to encourage partners to fully utilize training resources, and nothing works better for that than showing them how more training brings partners more money. But if you run training in a manual way, there’s no way to generate a report proving this without a lot of additional work and time.

These are just three scenarios that show how training managed in a silo’d manner becomes a handicap to your business. The good news is that a good partner relationship management (PRM) solution resolves these issues almost immediately.

Firstly, it automates training, tracking partner participation and completion automatically. Then, in real time, it can issue certifications and accreditations. If on a Friday a partner discovers a deal that needs to close Wednesday, and it demands a certification, the partner can get training done and get that certification issued immediately. Suddenly, accreditation and certification is no longer an impairment to the partner – it’s a readily-accessed tool.

Secondly, PRM connects what happens in training to the rest of the channel program – sales, marketing, loyalty and every other aspect of managing indirect channels. That means that discovering correlations between training and partner performance, longevity and lead distribution is far easier, and so all aspects of channel management can be understood holistically. It also allows the vendor to use incentives for training in a directed way.

Third, it allows the vendor to put the emphasis back on the content. Instead of worrying about tracking training and issuing certifications and accreditations, your training program managers can concentrate on content.

Direct sales and marketing organizations use automation to generate reports to understand their own performance. Training and the impact it has on partners and vendors is a far more complex set of relationships, so managing it manually makes little sense – especially when solutions are so readily available.

To learn more about training, download our latest whitepaper today. 

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