Partnering with an individual or company can be a great way to gain access to a wider range of services, expertise, or reach. But successful partnerships require effort and commitment on both sides of the partnership. You need to invest time and resources to make the relationship successful, and to ensure your partners address your product(s)/solution(s) in the best way they will require specific enablement as part of that investment.
In my past experiences, I have taken ownership of partner enablement and successfully developed programs from scratch. However, I have also encountered partner programs that have fallen short and failed to produce the desired results.
One major factor that determines the success of these programs is how effectively the stakeholders at the partner companies are equipped with knowledge about the partnership, the associated benefits, the partnering organization, and their product/solution. In this blog, we’ll explore some strategies and tactics for building an effective partner enablement plan ensuring your program is positioned for success!
What is partner enablement?
Partner enablement is the process of equipping your partners with the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to successfully meet the goals of your collaboration with them. By empowering your partner, you strengthen your relationship, build on opportunities, and drive mutual success.
Benefits of partner enablement programs
Partner enablement programs can provide a range of benefits, including increased sales and revenue, improved customer satisfaction, expanded market reach, and stronger relationships with partners. By providing partners with the tools, resources, and training they need to effectively sell and support your products or services, you can help them succeed and grow your business in the process.
Planning a partner enablement framework
Understand the partner program
To build an effective partner enablement framework, you first need to get to know your partners and how they are partnering with your organization. Partners can fit into a variety of types, and the enablement program the require will depend of the type of partners you are enabling. Some examples include:
Marketing Partnership: In this type of partnership, two companies team up to promote their products or services to each other’s customers. For example, a sports drink company might partner with a sports equipment manufacturer to offer a joint promotion that rewards customers who buy both products. This type of partnership can provide increased brand visibility and access to new customer bases.
Reselling Partnership: A reselling partnership is a type of collaboration between an organization that has a product/solution and a reseller. The product/solution provider provides products or services to the reseller, who then sells them to their own customers. For example, a software company might partner with a reseller to sell its software products through their channels. This type of partnership can provide increased sales and distribution channels, as well as expanded customer reach and brand exposure.
Services Partnership: A services partnership is a type of collaboration between two or more companies that provide complementary services to their clients. For example, a digital marketing agency might partner with a web development firm to offer a comprehensive suite of services to their clients. This type of partnership can provide increased expertise and a wider range of services to clients, as well as shared resources and cross-promotion opportunities between partners.
You may have a variety of partners types in your organization, and a single partner may partner with you in more than one type of partnership. Once you understand the types of partner(s) and the legal and financial terms of the partnerships at your organization, it is time to think about your partner enablement strategy. Your strategy and tactics will vary depending on they type of partnership.
Review partnership goals and KPIs
First you must understand the goals of the partnership. Most partner programs will include specific objectives or key performance indicators to define success. Before creating an enablement program, it is crucial to understand these as well as the partner types so you can design the enablement program to set the partners up for success. Examples of partnership goals may be:
- Marketing partnership: Grow market share in country x or Build presence in country y
- Reselling partnership: Grow number of installs in country x or Introduce product in country y
- Services partnership: Provide customization services to x # of customers or Provide training to y # of customers
in their native language
Examples of partnership KPIs include:
- Marketing partnership: Number of leads or lead quality
- Reselling partnership: Number of opportunities or Number of new customers
- Services partnership: Number of integrations or Number of QA or support tickets
Understand their strengths
After you understand their role, the next step is to understand their strengths. By understanding what they do best, you can tailor your channel enablement efforts to leverage their strengths and develop their weaknesses.
Build communication channels
This step involves understanding how you and your partner will communicate to ensure seamless transfer of information for joint success. This may include assigning a partner enablement manager, having regular meetings, aligning your CRM or IT systems or signing up for collaboration tools.
Depending on the partnership, your enablement program may have to meet differing roles/persona within the partner organization. For example, if your partner is going to own sales for a specific region, you may have to a training stream for the sales team and training stream for the support team. Also, the tools and resources may be different for different personas.
Define learning and certification expectations
Ensuring that your partners have the right skills and knowledge to partner with you is a critical piece of ensuring a successful partnership. Depending on the type of partnership, you will likely want your partners to have specific training and/or certification.
When creating your program, you will want to clearly define any learning paths and include certification expectations for each personas identified. Some of the training materials and certifications may already exist for your customers and internal employees, but there is a good chance that you will have to create partner specific materials as well.
Be sure to include specific expectations around learning and certification into your partner agreements and track metrics to determine if they are following through with required learning. To ensure that the partner ecosystem is skilled and knowledgeable, set up regular communication channels to provide them with how they are doing in relation to the expectations set.
Build partner enablement strategy and goals
Your enablement goals will define the learning and certification expectations with timelines. These should be regularly reviewed to ensure progress. Examples of partnership enablement goals might be
- Have x employees completed their full training path by y
- Have x employees certified on product positioning by z
- Increase partner generated leads by w% after x employees are certified
Elements of a partner enablement program
The required learning for partner onboarding should be included in the broader learning path for each persona. We recommend starting your partner onboarding with an introduction of your company, brand, and teams. Include information like your company history, vision/mission/values, an overview of your portfolio of products and goals. Their onboarding will likely overlap with your internal employee onboarding, so be sure to leverage those training assets (which may need some tweaks) you already have instead of duplicating the effort to create them from scratch.
Also outline the training paths, deliverables and milestones of your partner enablement program so they understand what to expect. This includes where they can find resources, what kind of training they can expect and when they should have it completed by, as well as available support.
Set-up your partner for success by giving them in-depth training so they know the ins and outs of your products, services or solutions. Think about delivering training through instructor-led training, workshops, virtual sessions, online learning and eLearning for your partner enablement training.
Sales and marketing training
If you are building a partner sales enablement program, then you need to go beyond the specifications of your offering and train your partner on how to market and sell your products. Think about providing positioning statements, competitive information, how to identify pain points and how to respond to sales objections.
Tools and resources
Be sure to set up tools so your partners are empowered to meet their own needs. This may include communication tools or a repository with product, sales and marketing tools. Check with your partners on what they feel they need to effectively meet the goals of the partnership. Some examples of tools and resources include:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software: A shared CRM will help you track leads and have visibility into what is coming in. CRMs like HubSpot or Salesforce work well for this purpose.
- Customer service tickets tracking software: If your partners are services customers and they find bugs in your product, it is important to provide them with an account into your support portal. This will allow them to enter support tickets or get support themselves.
- Course authoring software: You may want to allow your partners to create training on your product or solution. For this, you will need course authoring software such as LEAi.
- PowerPoint decks: Providing your partners with presentation decks of your generic training will allow them to modify it based on their customer needs.
- Learning Management System (LMS): The most important tool for the enablement program is an LMS to deliver and track your courses. This will help you monitor the training progress of your partners. You can use Docebo or SkillJar for this purpose.
Partner enablement is an ongoing process, and its important to regularly evaluate your program to ensure that it is meeting the goals of the partnership. Use your goals and KPIs to measure progress from a quantitative perspective. Solicit feedback on a regular basis to get a qualitative perspective.
Use your KPIs and feedback to identify and prioritize areas of improvement and make incremental adjustments or improvements to your program. Continuous improvement also includes delivering product updates and resources as they become available.
Answers to common questions about partner enablement training
How do I scale my partner training program with limited resources?
How often should I update my partner training program?
How frequently should I try my partner network?
How LEAi helps with partner enablement
My experience creating and running partner enablement programs and with our customers at LearnExperts has been that not building clear, up-to-date role-specific partner training can hinder a partner enablement program. Many organizations hinder their partner program by using a long, intensive, traditional training creation process to create partner course content. This delays the release of new courses and keeps partners in the dark.
To increase the speed of course creation, LEAi is a tool that allows companies to use documents and presentations they have within their organization to quickly create courses for various training and enablement programs.
The main benefit of using LEAi for partner enablement is time to market. You can use content you already have for internal and customer audiences and adjust it quickly. As soon as there are changes within the organization, you can quickly roll out new or updated training material. This means that your partners are working with the most current information and are correctly representing your products, company and brand.
Use LEAi to create content for both online, in-person and blended training. This includes class content, presentations, webinars, videos and more – all in minutes. If you are in the market for a tool that will accelerate your partner enablement program, give us a shout!