Partner Onboarding - Make it Fun - Not Work

Posted: 9/5/2016 by Norma Watenpaugh

You’ve recruited partners and now you need to get them ready to sell your products and solutions. Systematic and deliberate onboarding can have long term impact on partner loyalty and productivity. By one company's experience, 50% greater first year revenue was realized by those partners onboarded through a carefully planned partner experience vs those left to own initiative.

Make it a Game - Not Work

 Here’s the issue: we come across many channel onboarding sites, manuals and processes. What is striking is how much information is delivered to the channel all at once. It’s complicated, overwhelming, and filled with details...all focused on what the company needs from their channel but not so much on what the channel needs from the company. Not surprisingly, during recruitment, companies make sure to listen to prospective channel partners, understand their value proposition, their abilities, and their goals, and make sure they are a fit. They feel important and special. Companies talk about long-term relationships. But once signed up, they are sent to a portal and expected to get onboard all on their own. And the demands made…train here, certify there, here’s your quota, make this financial commitment here….and no mention of what the channel will receive and what it needs. They were told they were wanted, needed and now it’s, “Do all this work yourselves; you are no longer that important.” As in any relationship, move too fast and overwhelm them; stop working the relationship, and you chance losing them.

 During recruitment, companies make sure to listen to prospective channel partners and make sure they feel important and special. Companies talk about long-term relationships. But once signed up, they are sent to a portal and expected to get onboard all on their own. And the demands made…train here, certify there, here’s your quota, make this financial commitment here….and no mention of what the channel will receive and what it needs. They were told they were wanted, needed and now it’s, “Do all this work yourselves; you are no longer that important.” As in any relationship, move too fast and overwhelm them; stop working the relationship, and you chance losing them.

 There's a better way.

Our suggestion: make sure the onboarding process continues to show channel partners that they are important to your company. Don’t ask for too much commitment or investment upfront. Just as a lead nurture campaign provides a set of small steps that prospects are asked to take, make your onboarding a way for partners to get onboard - easy step by easy step. Make it more of a game than work. Make your onboarding process worthwhile and useful. Make the portal easy to use, and provide small amounts of information at a time, in video or document format, interspersed with opportunities for your channel to provide information back to you---ask their goals, have them ask questions—then provide the next step in the journey. Like Pokémon Go, create an enjoyable journey where they discover new treasures (Pokémon) along the way, and don’t get overwhelmed with hundreds of details (all the Pokémon) at a time. Think about it, would Pokémon Go be the phenomenon it is if all the Pokémons were at the first stop? The pleasure in the game is searching, finding and searching again, one win at a time.

Could you benefit from a better partner on-boarding experience? 

 Download a gamification infographic that can show you how to make onboarding engaging, fun, and ultimately productive.


Phoenix Consulting Group and Highland Team have assembled thought pieces from our research, our library, and our associates to bring you a series of twelve bi-weekly missives on the future of the channel and what savvy channel chiefs are already implementing to not only survive the future but to thrive.  

Need an ear to listen to YOUR concerns…we are offering one hour, complementary assessments of your channel challenges. To schedule a call, please send us a note by clicking here:  Channel Assessment

Stay Tuned as We Bring the Future to You. 


Norma and Deborah

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