HomeBlog It’s Alive! Maintaining an Evergreen Channel Program

It’s Alive! Maintaining an Evergreen Channel Program

November 29, 2017 | By Sallie Morris

  • Ongoing partner recruitment efforts help ensure you have the right partners in your program to meet your current and future goals
  • Holistic partner enablement and training programs keep partners enabled, trained and ready to maximize business opportunities with your company
  • Constantly listening to your partners – using a variety of vehicles – lets you spot problems early and course-correct, or do more of a good thing

I recently wrote a blog post about how to refresh a b-to-b channel program. But what if you really don’t need to refresh your channel program (“Everything is fine, thank you very much!”)? Not so fast! Just because your channel program does not need a refresh does not mean that you don’t need to give it regular care and feeding to keep it compelling and relevant.

Here are three tips to make a channel program evergreen:

  • Always be recruiting new partners. Partner recruitment is an ongoing activity in a successful channel program. Business needs change, and partner business models change. It’s rare that programs are successful with all the same partners year after year. Make partner recruitment a muscle that you flex regularly, and add it to your business plans and goals for channel managers. Partner recruiting should be a routine activity, not a one-and-done deal.
  • Conduct continuous partner enablement and training. Make sure that you have built a holistic partner enablement roadmap to maximize partner effectiveness, efficiency and performance. Consider just-in-time enablement tools and broader initiatives. Take stock of your partner training resources, and keep in mind that partners retain little of what they learn in training if they don’t put it to immediate work, so factor in refresher training. Also, most of the time, we associate partner training with the act of onboarding a new partner company or a product launch. These are very important aspects of partner training, but don’t lose sight of the attrition that happens during regular business! Many organizations routinely get introduced to new contacts in sales, technical, marketing and executive teams from partner companies. Set up a way to programmatically ensure that new contacts receive training.
  • Listen to your partners. Make a point of regularly talking to your partners – both the happy and less happy ones. Your partners have invested in your company by being members of your program, and hopefully are willing to offer critical feedback to help you understand the challenges they face and how to keep your channel program fresh and relevant. The best partner feedback sources include advisory councils, partner interviews conducted by a third party, and channel managers. After these sources, consider surveys, social media, channel conferences, distributors and customers as well.

Remember, you are not in this alone. SiriusDecisions has extensive best practice knowledge in channel sales and channel marketing, and can help you make sure that your partner program is optimized to serve the needs of your business.

Sallie Morris

Sallie Morris is a Consulting Director at SiriusDecisions. She is a senior channel, marketing and sales professional with more than 25 years of experience working with startups, mid-size and Fortune 500 companies. Follow her on Twitter @SallieMorris.

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