Steps Needed to Implement a Successful Channel Partner Program

by: Nichole Gunn May 27, 2011

Creating an effective channel partner platform is essential for successful channel programs. Unfortunately, suppliers usually provide demand creation portals before analyzing whether they have the necessary infrastructure, platform, and know-how to utilize the tools effectively.  Jumping the gun in this area not only defeats the purpose of enhancing the partner program, it is a waste of time, effort, and money for all involved.

Designing partner tools takes careful consideration; not all partners or suppliers will be knowledgeable enough to take effective advantage of what’s being offered. It’s important to keep tools and operation as simple as possible to ensure enhanced engagement levels. Along with being simple to use, guidelines that are comprehensive, yet understandable need to be available and easily accessible. Development and execution instructions should also be readily available to guarantee correct usage of the tools. Taking these steps will ensure “full partner understanding,” thereby producing the greatest demand and revenue.

Prior to sign-up, partners should know about the program’s objectives and expected results. It’d be a good idea for the vendor’s representatives to have discussions with potential partners to ensure informed enrollment into the program, and avoid misunderstanding that may arise in the future.

An example of what the reps might include in their discussion is the way in which specific sales tools are geared toward different stages in the buying cycle. Providing clear-cut and concise information about the offer and the program’s expectations will help create an attractive package.

After the partner accepts, the next essential step is the delivery phase; partners must be fully engaged if the channel program is to accomplish its goal: maximum efficiency. Providing partners with required instructions for creating portals and accessing tools, along with their proper usage is a key step for success. But, again, simple is best; an easy to use system will ensure its effective usage and help keep partners engaged.

Once the program is fully implemented, regular partner communications is crucial while the program is running. One of the main causes of channel program failure is improper execution, in large part due to the lack of effective communication. Suppliers must keep tabs on partner progress, as well as be readily available to provide help with the usage of tools that partners purchase.

While it’s easy to contact partners to offer new products, that should not be the end of the relationship. The partners will need help in order to use those products effectively. If they don’t receive this help and are unable to get effective use from the tools, they will be much less likely to purchase from the supplier again.


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.