By Erich Flynn, CEO, TreeHouse Interactive
Now that the new year is in full swing, it’s a good time to look at your partner program and make adjustments. Whether you do it now or later, you should review your program at least once per year. Here are some review items to get you started.
Which partners are delivering the best return on investment and why? Are all your partners living up to their commitments? For example, if you have a tiered program where top tier partners (Platinum, Preferred, etc.) are required to deliver a certain amount of revenue or maintain a level of technical competence, review their performance to ensure commitments are being met. This is also a good chance to find those up and coming partners gaining traction and increasing your revenue.
Out of date terms and conditions or incorrect partner information can lead to issues both today and down the road. Review your partner agreements and have your legal department or counsel update them with any new terms and conditions. Having partners update their contact data at this time is also a good idea, since most agreements require correct business names and addresses. Today, this can be done in a few days. Most high-end partner relationship management (PRM) systems have the capability to force partner contact data updates and present new partner agreements for digital signature.
It’s a shame when a company has invested the time, effort and dollars to develop a world-class partner program, then fail to keep their partner portal up to date with relevant content. Partners will stop using your portal when it stops being useful. If your portal has the same content it did three months ago, you are in danger of losing partner mindshare. Check your content, including training curriculum, current product information, promotions, success stories, programs and even items like graphics. It will take some time, but it is worth the effort.
The criteria you had for program elements like deal registration or MDF/co-op funds last year may need to be changed. These terms and conditions should be reviewed once a year to determine if they need to be adjusted. For example, are benefits like MDF and automated demand generation being used too much or too little? If you have any of the following, it is time to see which partners qualify and if current guidelines still apply.
Some PRM systems come complete with outbound email and survey capabilities. If not, you likely have them in other systems. You should reach out to your partners regularly to see how you are doing. What do they like with respect to your program? Also, what components of your program cause partners frustration? If this is your first year reaching out, use it as a base for comparison moving forward.
Is your PRM system giving you and your partners what is needed? Do you have what you need to report up the chain of command, to monitor partner performance and to monitor your performance. Take the time to do a needs assessment. See if there are reports or features you, your company or your partners need. Partners are free agents. You should be adding new features to stay ahead of competitor programs and to demonstrate your commitment to partners. Determine if you can get the new features and/or reports you need out of current systems. If you can’t, see if your vendor or IT group can get them for you.
If you review these items at least once per year, you will ensure your partner program operates efficiently, stays top of mind with your partners and is ultimately successful in garnering both incremental revenue and partner loyalty.
Erich Flynn is the CEO of leading PRM provider TreeHouse Interactive. His company’s SaaS based Reseller View PRM enables successful channel programs for 100’s of thousands of partners across the globe. Erich also has experience managing large partner networks directly having held high level sales and marketing positions for companies like Iomega, Fujitsu, and Quantum.