By Gary Sabin, Vice President of Product Management at Impartner
We’ve been saying it for two years now. These are unprecedented times. And it seems like each day or week gets more and more unprecedented. Because companies have focused so much on remote work over these past two years, the digital transformation has leaped forward an additional two years. Digitally—it’s not 2022; it’s 2024.
It’s clear that you can’t manage your partner programs with spreadsheets. Even for companies with automated processes, you can’t manage your programs with the same technology you used even two years ago.
Automation is necessary to scale, meet new challenges and capture revenue that is so critical to survival in this new environment. It covers the operational basics, so you can have strategic conversations with your partners that will develop better relationships and make a significant difference in your business.
Automation will also enable you to amplify the power of your existing team. According to Forrester, for every dollar spent in automating your partner program, you’ll save $10 in labor. Based on our studies of channel technology and companies, you’ll see a 29% reduction in administrative costs.
Here are seven strategic areas where automation should be considered to accelerate channel growth and maximize team efficiency.
Scale Recruiting And Onboarding
Signing on new partners can be a time consuming task. If there is any handcrafted, non-automated ETSY project element in your processes to bring your partners on, get them approved, contracts signed and ramped and ready to go, you’re not going to capture any initial momentum and start producing revenue.
Automation gives onboarding partners a world-class partner journey from the beginning and guides them toward effectiveness and profitability by serving up the next steps in the partner journey and providing content to help them build their business. In our studies, those who automate recruiting and onboarding see an average 45% increase in onboarding and recruiting throughput.
Provide Training And Enablement
There is a simple reason direct sales teams regularly outsell indirect sales teams—they have better access to the training and materials they need to hit the ground running. Our studies show automation increases channel revenue by 35% due to better-trained partners.
Reduce Channel Conflict Through Deal Registration
Isn’t there enough conflict in the world right now without adding channel conflict? All it takes is to have a valued partner have another competitor swoop in and steal a deal, and you’ve lost their loyalty forever. Automation makes it easy for partners to register deals, protect their business and build their loyalty to you. Our data shows that automation reduces channel conflict by as much as 80%.
You don’t run your direct sales force without looking at the numbers—all the time. That same visibility is critical to managing your channel partners. CAMs need an efficient, automated, non-spreadsheet way to see which partners are driving the most revenue, which partners are having success and especially those that are profitably closing the deals you give them.
You can also reward partners’ best behaviors by showing them next-level benefits and how to get there. A CompTIA study said that 61% of partners find that vendors have insufficient reporting on approvals and payout status. Automation solutions give you visibility and reward those partners achieving the most success. Our data shows a 50% increase in a CAM’s ability to meet quota and a 25% increase in the number of partners improving their performance.
Communicate At The Right Time, In The Right Place
Many of your partners are small and very few have sophisticated marketing tools. Automation technology can deliver sophisticated marketing tools to your partners, helping even the smallest partners market like pros and taking your products that conceptual last mile.
Contemporary automated channel management tools make it easy for even the smallest teams to send messages out on the fly, in format, in language, to the right people, with the right content, in minutes. Our data shows that targeted, regular, nimble communications increase open rates by up to 50% more and production times are reduced by 50%—critical when working with reduced resources.
Engage Your Partners
Engagement is probably the most overused word these days after “unprecedented.” But it’s critical. Your partner portal is your digital front door. If you have a dated, dirty, threadbare doormat of a portal with multiple sign-ons into multiple technology solutions to get information, it’s clue No. 1 that a dated, hard to use, friction-filled experience lies ahead.
Your partners won’t tolerate a poor partner experience. Studies from The Channel Company’s research arm, IPED, say that 86% of partners judge whether they want to do business with you based on your partner portal. Contemporary automation solutions can be up and running in a few weeks, driving efficiency, managing your processes and creating a world-class customer experience that helps make you a vendor of choice. Our data shows a 41% increase in partner engagement in the first year of use alone.
Capture And Drive Revenue From The Shadow Channel
IT is no longer in the driver’s seat; business unit buyers, who make 72% of purchasing decisions, are increasingly turning to disparate groups to make decisions and implement technology. Influencers, trusted advisors, or in other words, the shadow channel of non-traditional partners, have emerged, and they are heavily driving purchasing decisions.
To capitalize on this new partnership segment, automation comes to play. Referral automation replaces the seemingly unmanageable aspect of ad-hoc, non-traditional partnership to deliver organized and on-going revenue growth. When used right, automation can drive as much as 30% from referral partners, bringing traditional and transactional partners into the entire partner revenue ecosystem.
When used strategically, automation can help channel teams and programs of all sizes thrive, providing leaders with more time for strategic initiatives. Now is the time to automate and make more of you. Now is the time to focus on developing a compelling partner business proposition. You need the best partners now more than ever. You need your partners to extend your business and your reach. If you’re like most companies, 75% of your revenue goes through the channel. Make sure you invest in the capillary system essential to drive revenue. The personal, human, strategic touch is critical with partners – but make sure you have the automation you need to give you time to do that.