What's Partner Enablement? (+ How to Do it Right)

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Andrew Brown ·

Sep 20, 2022

I’m going to guess that you’re either leading the charge or part of the team tasked with channel partner enablement. This 5-point checklist gives you a simple resource you can rely on to launch and maintain a partner enablement strategy that supports your partners and drives your bottom line. 

What's Partner Enablement?

Partner enablement is the practice of providing your partners with the training and resources they need to effectively promote and sell your product or service. A partner enablement strategy is a great way to extend your sales team and increase revenue.

How to Build a Partner Enablement Strategy 

Don’t over-complicate the steps you take to launch and maintain your partner enablement strategy. Keep it simple.

1. Plan and Goal Setting

Think of your partner enablement strategy the same way you think of other internal or external training initiatives. What do your partners need to be successful? How will you measure the partnership’s impact? These questions are critical and imperative for a successful partnership. So, sit down with them (or give them a call) and chat. 

  • What are the learning KPIs (e.g., course completions, monthly active learners (MALs), etc.)?
  • What are the business KPIs (e.g., revenue growth, improved retention, etc.)?
  • Who’s your executive sponsor?
  • What do your “learner personas” look like? 
  • Which content medium(s) and delivery methods will you use?  
  • What are the ongoing support needs?
  • What type of feedback system will you use? 
  • What’s the implementation timeline? 

With a complete understanding of goals and expectations, you’ve laid the groundwork and can start rolling out a partnership that benefits all parties involved.

2. Content Creation 

Now that you know what you’re trying to accomplish, you can start creating the content with your SMEs and designers. More times than not, this will be a relatively smooth process. Although time-consuming, the conversations you had during the planning process should provide you with all the answers. Just put everything through the wringer to ensure its accuracy and that it’s achieving its intended purpose. 

That said, there’s a potential mistake you want to avoid: Assuming existing enablement materials will translate to this new partnership. For example, not all existing sales enablement, onboarding materials or previous partner content will be a perfect match for this partner. Some of the materials will apply, but there will most likely be a degree of customization required.

Best Practices for eLearning Instructional Design

  • Prioritize the readability and legibility of the content. 
  • Short-form content is superior to long-form content. The less text, the better (most of the time). 
  • Incorporate high-quality videos and images whenever and wherever possible.
  • Make it personal and customize elements when you can.
  • Create a hierarchy or learning paths to help people understand how you organize the information. 
  • Include quizzes and other interactive elements that make learning fun. 
  • Take advantage of whitespace. 
  • Group relevant content together to help learners retain more information. 

Types of Partner Enablement Training (a Few Examples):

  • Product demos
  • Sales best practices 
  • Industry insights 
  • Compliance training
  • Inbound and outbound marketing strategies
  • Brand and message 
  • Customer profiles and pain points

3. Partner Onboarding & Launch

Once you have everything you need in terms of content (see above for popular partner enablement training materials), it’s just about time to get the ball rolling. At this stage, you’ll want to introduce internal and external teams, educate your partners on your company and industry and share the content. Now, they have everything they need. It’s time to launch.

4. Track and Gather Feedback

You’re off to a great start, but you’re just getting started. Now that your partner enablement program is off the ground, make sure you sit down with your partners and source feedback. Are they getting the expected value? What are their pain points and challenges? What’s working really well? 

You should also monitor your KPIs (set during the first step) to ensure you’re still driving toward your learning and business goals.

Pro Tip: Make the delivery process as straightforward as possible with a learning management system (LMS) that can automate and customize content delivery. 

5. Evolve 

Now, see what’s working and find ways to improve from both a learning and profitability standpoint. 

  • Are learning teams, the business and partners still aligned on KPIs?  
  • How much net-new revenue came in via the partnership? 
  • Are there patterns with lost deals? For example, is it not fulfilling a specific use case? 
  • What are customers saying? 
  • Where’s the training missing or under-delivering?  
  • Which topics or courses are the most helpful?
  • What’s the most effective medium (e.g., slides, videos, quizzes, etc.)? 
  • What’s the preferred method of delivery? 

You can get these answers via one-to-one conversations (try a lunch-and-learn) or by sending the partners surveys that they can complete and send back. Remember to circle back to earlier steps (e.g., deliver, track, evolve). Partner enablement is an ongoing process. 

  Download the Checklist 

Why Do You Need Channel Partners? 

Channel partners (also called resellers) promote and sell your product. They aren’t directly part of your company, but they can have innumerable benefits.  

Benefits of Channel Partners 

  • An external face of your company that helps extend reach. 
  • A more cost-effective extension of your sales, marketing, and support teams. 
  • Ultimate brand champions to build industry credibility, especially in new markets. 

These are just a few of the benefits of channel partners. Here’s the catch: These benefits will always be out of reach if you’re not consistently giving them the proper knowledge and training they need. 

What Makes a Good Channel Partner? 3 Traits to Prioritize

Even the best partner enablement strategies will come off the rails if everything isn’t working in unison. To avoid this, look for these key traits and characteristics (and don’t waver on them). 

1. KPIs: You Have the Same Goals

The buck stops here. If you’re not on the same page with your channel partner — or can’t see that happening — the relationship probably won’t work. For the partnership to be mutually beneficial, you have to be working toward the same goal.  

2. Communication: The Door is Always Open 

A partner enablement strategy won’t always be smooth sailing. Sometimes, things won’t work as intended. When this happens, you must have a partner who’s ready and willing to talk. Whether it’s good or bad, if a partner isn’t open to constant communication, it may be time to move on from the partnership.

3. Expertise: A Relationship Rooted in Knowledge

Things will change, you’ll face new problems, and you’ll have to tackle scenarios you didn’t expect. For these reasons, your channel partner must have the domain expertise and commitment to learning necessary to handle the unknown. 

Can an LMS Help with Partner Enablement?

The goal of this 5-point checklist is to make partner enablement simple yet effective. But there’s an entirely new level of partner enablement you can unlock by building your strategy on the back of a learning management system

  • Branded Portals: Tailor your partner’s learning experience to align with your brand’s look and feel. 
  • Flexibility: With dedicated logins and on-demand courses that fit every screen, your channel partners can learn on their time and at their own pace.
  • Measurement: Hold your channel partners accountable by ensuring they’re on track. Plus, take learner-level insights to improve.
  • Scalability: Easily replicate this process as your channel network grows and reduce associated costs.
  • Enhanced Engagement: Use the tools inside your LMS to boost channel partners’ interaction with your material. Certifications, quizzes, and gamification elements can help keep them engaged.  

Want to demo Northpass and see, exactly, how it can boost your Partner Enablement Strategy? Just reach out and we’ll be in touch. 

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About the Author
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Andrew Brown

Andrew is a Content Marketing Manager. When he's not creating, you can find him watching the Buffalo Sabres, obsessing about Scandinavia or exploring NYC.

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