Partner training is educational content and programs designed to teach partners the ins and outs of your product or service so that they can effectively sell it. In most cases, a partner is a reseller, service organization or consultant.
An external face of your company extends reach.
A more cost-effective extension of your Sales, Marketing and Support teams.
Ultimate brand champions to build industry credibility, especially in new markets.
Just like the training needs of your internal teams varies based on their day-to-day tasks and goals, partner training and enablement will differ as well. Some partners may need a course on your product, while others will require insights into how to best speak to your customers and prospects. Partners may also need more general to ground them in a solid foundation — for example, general sales training. The list goes on.
Partners need to know your product (or service) just as well as the people building it. This is where product training — often powered by certifications — comes in. In many cases, being a partner means being certified by a company to sell and support its products. Using product training to educate partners ensures that they’ll be able to go out and act as a seamless extension of your in-house Sales team.
No matter what business you’re in, regulations, policies and legislation will come into play. Compliance training ensures that your partners understand these and do their jobs without stepping over any sensitive boundaries.
Sometimes, your partners may need more general training, such as a course on sales, new marketing messaging or a new topic that your partners may not be super familiar with (cloud computing, for example).
In this case, because the subject is so broad and not tailored to any one product or service, you might consider sending your partners to an outside trainer like CompTIA, which provides vendor-neutral IT certifications.
The best partner training program is one that’s off the ground and available to your partners. Don’t over-complicate the steps. Starting a partner training program doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple and start reaping the rewards.
Think of your partner training program precisely like you would any other training program you have running. What do your partners need to be successful and achieve the goals you’ve set out for them and how will you measure their success? You should also determine KPIs that align with the growth of the greater business. Answering these questions in conjunction with your partners will help you create a plan destined for success.
With a complete understanding of goals and expectations, you’ve laid the groundwork and can start rolling out a partnership training program that benefits all parties involved — now and in the future.
You can start creating the content now that you know what you’re trying to accomplish with your training program. 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 going to do what you intended.
Once you have everything you need in terms of content, it’s time to launch. At this stage, you’ll often spend time onboarding the partners and showing them the materials available, explaining the objectives and showing them the support system you have in place to help them navigate any challenge. If you’re using a learning management system (LMS), this is when you’ll show them how to use the technology. Once you’re confident they have what they need to succeed, launch the partner training program.
Now that you’ve launched your partner training program, you must frequently make time to source feedback. Are your partners getting value out of the program? Is it addressing their pain points? What’s working and what’s not? If you’re using an LMS, is it working from both a usability and technical standpoint? Take these answers seriously and make improvements accordingly.
In addition to sourcing feedback directly from your partners, it’s also critical that you monitor the business KPIs you set at the beginning? Is the program helping the overall business grow? Is it providing you with the proof points you need to maintain leadership buy-in? If it’s not, you should reevaluate your goals and do what’s necessary to improve.
Now that you know what’s working and what isn’t, evolve.
You can get these answers via one-to-one conversations or by sending surveys that they can complete and send back. Remember to circle back to earlier steps. Your partner training program is never done; it’s an ongoing process that should improve over time and evolve with the shifting needs of everyone involved.
Even the best partner training programs strategies struggle to gain traction if all parties aren’t operating in unison. This is why taking the time to find partners that share the same way of thinking is so essential to the program’s long-term success. Look for these traits and characteristics.
If you’re not on the same page with your partner — or can’t see that happening — the relationship probably won’t work. For the partnership to have a real-world impact, you have to have the same goals and KPIs.
A partner training program won’t always be smooth sailing. When this starts veering off course, you must have a partner who’s willing to sit down, talk and adjust accordingly. Your success hinges on this.
Success will always be a moving target. For this reason, your channel partner must have a firm understanding of your industry and domain expertise. This is why your training program is so important. Even if your partners don’t initially know, they need to be willing to learn.
No matter how you’re using partner training, someone is going to approach you, look you in the eyes and ask you if it’s working. As a partner training pro, you know it is, but to convince them, you need to show them that the training addresses and solves real business problems.
To do that, show them the Net Promoter Score (NPS), churn rate, upsells and cross-sells, as well as the lifetime value (LTV) of your customers (or other parties they’re selling to).
There’s nothing more aligned with business success than customer happiness, how satisfied they are with your product or service and if they’d recommend it. If you’ve looked for this answer in the past, you’ve likely dabbled with Net Promoter Score (NPS) or a metric that measures the loyalty of your customers and their likeliness to recommend your product or service to others.
If your customers — or other parties your partners touch — are happy and showing loyalty, your partner training program is doing its job. Providing training for your partners that drives NPS is crucial. Positive results on these means the course is effective and if the results move in tandem with your business KPIs, it means you have good alignment and the course supports the business goals.
Customer retention and churn rate go hand in hand. Customer retention is a metric that measures your ability to retain customers over time. The churn rate is the number of customers you’ve lost over some time. The former is good while the latter is bad and indicates the partner training program fails to do its job.
Your program will ensure improvement to retention since you’re focused on educating them on topics they need to be successful. For example:
Upselling and cross-selling are essential drivers that increase the customer lifetime value (LTV). An effective training program should teach your partners how they can get those upsells and cross-sells.
A lot of it has to do with teaching selling techniques that not everyone may come to their job with. Training should include topics such as easy tools for selling, the fundamentals of the selling process and how to look for potential sales leads.
KPI outcomes may include:
Building your partner training program with the above information will help you run an effective program, but if you want to achieve another level of performance and efficiency, powering your partner training program with an LMS is a must. Here’s why:
Branded Portals: You can tailor the learning experience to align with your overall brand identity.
Flexibility: With dedicated logins and on-demand courses that fit every screen, you can give your partners a seamless way to learn whenever and wherever they choose.
Measurement: Robust measurement capabilities give you the ability to hold your partners accountable by ensuring they’re on track. Plus, it enables you to extract partner-level insights to improve.