If you hire an employee, you want to give them the best possible tools to succeed. The same concept applies to partner relationships. There’s no reason to expand your sales avenues if you’re not going to support the team.
That’s where partner enablement comes in. It’s the act of ensuring that everyone trying to sell your product, has everything they need to make that happen.
What is Partner Enablement?
Partner enablement is the practice of supporting partners with the proper materials, resources, training, and information to execute the sales process and sell your product/service. However, it’s so much more than simply providing a few training materials and wishing them “good luck!”
The more time and research you put into partner enablement, the more equipped your team will be to sell. Efficient channel partners must demonstrate they possess the skills and expertise required to recommend solutions to your customers.
Channel enablement encompasses a variety of resources and collateral designed to arm partners with everything they need to represent your brand professionally. They should be able to quickly and easily locate information, recall and retain the data, and look like a knowledgeable representative to your customer.
Staying in the Forefront
The most important aspect of a channel partnership is that they are interested in and excited to sell your solution. Otherwise, no form of enablement will work. However, a successful reseller often has several products to promote, so how do you keep yours at the top of mind?
There are three main ways to stay on the radar of your channel sales teams:
- Optimize your product for a compensation plan. Promise to make them money.
- Make the partner enablement framework simple and effective.
- Have a powerful demand engine. People are asking for your brand by name.
Best Methods to Enable Your Partners
Partner enablement should encompass all aspects of educating and equipping your sellers to succeed. The best enablement programs consider a variety of methods, such as:
Length of Time
There’s a reason why the successful series TEDTalks only runs 18 minutes. That’s enough time to dive into a subject, but not enough to lose an audience. The same goes for partner enablement material.
If you’re creating a video, hosting a webinar, or holding in-person events, consider the time it will take to deliver each message. There is a natural limit of about 10 minutes for each topic, and research shows that 6 minutes is the optimal length for instructional videos. Content should be broken into manageable, consumable, and easily shareable units.
Any type of lesson or material you put together for partner enablement should be accessible on every device. If your content isn’t mobile responsive, you will lose any sort of opportunity to engage partners while they are on the go. This is a huge handicap to your sales process.
Mobile access is key so channel partners can consume content from any device, at any time.
Gamification has been shown to be an effective and engaging learning strategy. When developed, designed, and deployed properly, it provides an edge in learning delivery.
Create incentive programs and points systems for your partners to motivate them. It’s an effective method when you are looking for reinforcement and retrieval over time.
When it works for the budget, on-site training makes for the most successful partner enablement program. This can take the form of many actions, including a channel partner shadowing a vendor representative or hosting formal events.
Types of Partner Enablement Material
Everyone learns in a different manner, so it’s important to pay attention to the type of material your partners respond to. Here are some of the most successful ways to reach a partner and ideas for providing resources:
Consider that most people are visual learners, so images and videos should be incorporated throughout your training and content strategy.
One of the most powerful sales tools are use cases and customer references. These are real-time reviews and proof that your product/service is successful. It shapes how you present a solution using real-world examples. Use cases share things like:
- How customers use your solution
- What problems were solved
- What the outcomes were
White papers are a form of long content that helps a partner build a better business case for customers. It will demonstrate how much a customer needs to invest until they see a healthy ROI.
A partner playbook helps to put everything together in a single spot. This is essentially an electronic guide that gives a seller everything they need to know to effectively sell your product/service. A successful sales deck will include:
- List of features
- Value propositions
- Use cases and customer presentations
- Spec sheets
The best way to deliver this content is through a self-service partner portal, but it can also be emailed or shared to your website as a help center.
Also, consider how you deliver the content. Creating a story around your sales pitch paints a more memorable picture and makes people feel closer to your brand.
Additional Types of Enablement Content
- On-boarding programs
- Technical support
- Marketing collateral
- Samples and free trials
Making your Partner Enablement Program Stick
Your enablement program isn’t over after a partner takes one class or completes an e-learning module. It’s an ongoing process to ensure your channel partners are engaged, informed, and excited about what they are selling. It’s a life-long effort of reinforcement and recall.
Use contests and awards to motivate partners. Celebrate the retention and delivery of key messages and incentivize the entire program.
Additionally, making a “coach” available to partners is a valuable resource and helps to reinforce certain material. The more you put into a personal and authentic approach, the more excited people will be to sell. When partner enablement material is effective, it helps to set you apart as a favored vendor and a top client.