Are you receiving pressure from your channel chief or executive team to improve partner experience (PX) and ecosystem engagement, but don’t have the funding to hire a PX lead or invest in additional systems?
During challenging economic times, it's sometimes difficult to spearhead strategic initiatives you know you need to prioritize. Don’t panic — there are still tons of ways to make your partner program a competitive differentiator in 2023.
Here are our top five recommendations to improve your PX without incremental investments, from basic to more advanced:
Tip #1: Streamline partner communications
When is the last time you audited all to-partner communications, including automated notices, from corporate and geo teams combined? Chances are, you're spamming your partner contacts with too many messages and low-value emails.
Try conducting a comms audit that takes stock of the:
- Number, timing, and content value of partner newsletters
- Number of content creators and approvers
- Volume of automated emails
- Messaging alignment to partner interests
- Partner contact hygiene (i.e., contact info for recipients)
Once the audit is complete, analyze your findings to identify areas for improvement. Then, work with key stakeholders to create a central calendar for your partner communications. Highlight the relevant focus areas and topics for each communication type to ensure you’re selectively sharing useful, high-value information with partners.
Tip #2: Pressure-test your partners' digital experience
How up-to-date is your external-facing partner landing page and partner portal? Our experience working with companies of all sizes and industries has shown us there’s typically always room for optimization.
First, start with public-facing partner landing pages:
- Is the partner value proposition clear and compelling?
- Are all links functioning correctly?
- How many clicks does it take to find a registration page?
- Do all pages have consistent branding and a unified look and feel?
Next, create a test account and dive into gated content within your portal:
- How easy or complex is the onboarding process?
- How many clicks does it take to key pages, including your:
- Deal registration
- Learning management system (LMS)
- Business plan
- Is info up-to-date?
- Are page content, recommendations, and notifications personalized?
- Are there clear next steps and CTAs where appropriate?
Tip #3: Optimize your PRM
Already have a partner relationship management (PRM) system? You're on the way to providing a great experience for your partners. (Learn more about why this is important in our channel automation Channel Chat!) We recommend taking steps to ensure you are taking advantage of the full tool’s functionality.
First, review your vendor contract to confirm you’re utilizing the modules you’ve licensed such as partner applications, training, customer relationship management (CRM) sync/integration, and deal registration. Next, log into your PRM with test credentials to:
- Ensure page content is up to date and relevant to your partners’ wants and needs
- Remove outdated enablement assets and update with current documentation
A best-in-class PRM provides journeys for your partners that clearly communicate major revenue triggers. You should also assign your portal a specific admin to maintain and manage activity. Lastly, your partner application and deal registration forms should be 1) simple and easy to use and 2) designed to collect all relevant information in a proficient manner.
Tip #4: Adopt a lifecycle mindset
Have you considered what the PX is like at each step of the partner lifecycle? Is every stage of your partner lifecycle clearly defined? Your lifecycle can act as a powerful tool to systematically evaluate whether you're helping or hindering your partners' engagement.
To define your partner lifecycle, start by creating a framework of stages spanning from recruitment and onboarding through scaling and deepening their practice(s) with you. Every company’s go-to-market (GTM) approach is unique, and therefore so is every partner lifecycle. Note that what partners need at each stage of the lifecycle differs depending on their value motion or how they uniquely provide value to end customers (e.g., through build, sell, service, etc.).
Once you have an established partner lifecycle framework, map your current touchpoints and resources to drive each stage. If you have multiple partner types or value motions in your ecosystem, conduct this exercise for each main type.
As a final step, create a heatmap to indicate places in your lifecycle that have resource gaps. Additionally, pinpoint where automation is in place to help partners move through the lifecycle so they are not left to find the next milestone themselves. This heatmap can guide your next steps for PX optimization — and if you need to make a business case for your organization, you can correlate data points to indicate where a lack of resources may be hindering partner performance.
Tip #5: Reevaluate your partner segmentation
When was the last time you revisited your partner segmentation? It might be time to improve the levels of engagement from high-propensity partners.
Partner segmentation helps drive what you as a vendor measure and reward as key behaviors in your partner ecosystem. Segmentation can also play a key role in offering partners a more personalized digital experience. As partners diversify their business models and adapt to more dynamic environments, many are adding increased and differentiated value.
Consider revisiting the metrics you use to drive segmentation within your ecosystem, for example:
- If you're an independent software vendor (ISV) pivoting your portfolio to SaaS solutions, integrate customer success-related metrics like retention rate and churn or customer satisfaction
- If you've struggled to translate a ‘cool product' to a 'solution for a business need,’ capture vertical or customer segment focus and expertise
- If you're reliant on resellers but results are lagging, consider not just revenue volume but also revenue growth and momentum
These are just a handful of areas to consider. The power of segmentation done right is the visibility it can provide to the right partners to invest in. Want to learn more? Check out our blog post on partner scoring.
Even without incremental budget or resources, it's still possible to improve partner experience and engagement.
This blog was written by Kate Caday and Ryan Hasson, leaders of ecosystem strategy and automation at Spur Reply. Curious about partners' top care-abouts, recommendations for boosting engagement, or bringing your PX to the next level? Contact us to continue the conversation.