We ran across a super article by ChannelEyes (www.channeleyes.com) Marketing Department, it really touches on the things that any vendor and credit union alike can run into.
On-boarding a new partner is a lot more than filling out some paperwork and filing it.
On a technical level, partner on-boarding is when a vendor brings on a partner and trains them on everything: the vendor’s technology, operations, sales pitch, and go-to-market plans. Vendors should realize that this is not something that happens after one training session, or even two. This is an on-going process throughout the time of the partnership. This keeps training fresh in partners minds, which leads to stronger relationships that can produce larger ROI’s over a longer period of time. Spending a little more time and effort on on-boarding ensures that partners pick up product information faster, increases market share, and shortens the sales cycle.
Ever hear the saying, “Build it and they will come”? That is not true for partner on-boarding.
There are some vendors out there with the idea that if they have a Partner Portal and a bunch of resources and training information in it, partners will gravitate toward it and just start consuming it all, leading to sales and happiness.
No. No, no, no.
It almost never works that way. Ever. The thing to remember here is that vendors need to really push this onboarding process if they want their partners to be successful additions to their channel. Don’t wait for them to ask or expect them to go to the resources themselves, because obstacles do exist in the on-boarding process that should not be ignored.
Nothing worth having comes easy. This is true of partner on-boarding as well.
Any problem during this process can usually be traced back to lack of resources, lack of commitment, or lack of focus. This could be on the partners behalf or the vendor. Both parties need to be fully “in” when they begin this. Some issues to keep in mind are:
There are only so many training materials for a partner to look at. Resources seem to be few and far between. And now that things are being stored in the cloud, it makes locating them even more difficult if not properly organized.
It’s often seen that the vendor is more committed than the partner. They might think, “Oh well this is nice. Just a small piece of my business so I don’t need to commit too much time to it.” This means that they’ll only commit a portion of the time or energy that a vendor would like into the training and on-boarding process.
Like a brand new puppy, it’s hard to get partner’s attention when it comes to on-boarding. The first thing they want to do is sell/deliver the products/services that the vendor is trying to train them in. They want to attain whatever profit can come from that, so actually being on-boarded and trained falls low on their priority list.
There are exceptions to everything. Some partners might come on with high energy towards training and completely dodge the obstacles mentioned, but more often than you think, you’ll need to formulate solutions to these problems.
Tools to Aid in On-Boarding
Yes, solutions! Thankfully there are ways to combat all these obstacles involved to bring about a successful partnership.
The best of the best combine access to training resources with a program that guides the partner through the whole on-boarding process. Having a tool like that ensures that the partner learns everything they need to know about the vendor, the methods by which they sell their product, training about that product, and building their pipeline. A work engine like this holds partners accountable for each step in the on-boarding process.
These steps in the on-boarding process can be simplified down into “missions”. Missions are goals or tasks that vendors want the partner to accomplish before they’re fully on-boarded. The best execution of missions involves “gamifying” them.
The word gamification can be kind of intimidating because it’s new, but it is the solution to many on-boarding obstacles. The first step is to create a great User Experience by making this tool with the missions aesthetically pleasing to the eye. People are sold by feature before function so make sure the tool is something that your partners want to use.
Second step is to set the goals and tasks to accomplish. This could be something that they check off when finished or they might need to earn points by completing each task that will result in a badge that says they’re done being on-boarded. This keeps partners focused on what tasks need to be done.
But what will motivate them to complete these missions? Look at your partners and those before them. What would motivate them? Would competition between partners be motivating enough? Then you just need to award them visible “badges”. Or maybe, like most people, they’d be more motivated by a physical reward, like a gift card to Starbucks. Whatever a vendor chooses, an increase in partner engagement in the on-boarding process will be evident.
Not all partners are going to be as committed and focused as a vendor would like. Obstacles will come no matter what. The best way to combat them is to find the right tools. These tools will need to have missions capabilities if vendors want to see a more motivated and educated partner, a partner that will ultimately represent and sell their product exactly as they would like.