If someone is always a bridesmaid, never a bride, they never quite get the commitment they’re striving for. Our research reveals that most partner reps manage one or two key relationships and up to six minor partnerships – each vying for greater mindshare. How can a supplier command enough of a partner’s attention to obtain the coveted top spot? Engagement is key. Not the kind that comes with a diamond ring and a promise of forever, but rather the commitment of a partnership reciprocated by both parties.
Suppliers often mistakenly view partner engagement as just another marketing or sales objective, to be checked off when a partner initially commits to the partner program or begins down the path to training/certification. This treats engagement as a one-time transaction instead of an ongoing effort that must be sustained over time. Engagement is not just about grabbing but holding a partner’s attention, and a supplier’s goal should be to grow and sustain the partnership.
Here are the top three things to consider when evaluating partner engagement:
Engagement should become the strategic process to guide and migrate a partner along the partnership lifecycle. Suppliers should use the incentive process to engage and reinforce desired partner behavior at key stages and then measure whether each objective has been achieved and whether or not a partner has advanced to the next step. The more engaged partners are in your program offerings, the less likely they will be to change partner programs. Suppliers must be diligent in their efforts to win over the hearts and minds of their partners to develop not just a casual date, but a true marriage.
Maria Chien is the Service Director of Channel Marketing Strategies at SiriusDecisions. She has 20 years of experience in partner/channel marketing, field marketing and solutions marketing, with hands-on expertise in partner and sales enablement, value proposition and sales tool development, and sales engagement. Follow Maria on Twitter at @mariachien.