Well done: you’ve attracted, vetted, and recruited a group of exciting partners and channel resellers who you feel are a great fit for your organization. Your team has put a ton of effort into onboarding and training each partner; now, you can just sit back and wait for the sales to start rolling in, right? Wrong. In reality, when it comes to maintaining a productive and lucrative partnership, there’s never a good time to rest on your laurels.
Don’t let your partners’ engagement wane after the initial onboarding phase.
Making sure that your partners’ engagement level stays high is key to creating a consistent revenue stream that won’t dry up a few months down the line. This begs the question: how do you keep your partners’ engagement buzzing throughout a long-term business relationship? We suggest trying these four tactics:
1. First off, make sure that you’ve chosen the correct partner relationship structure.
The first step to making sure that your partners remain engaged over the long term is choosing the right relationship structure to benefit both you and your ideal partners. An important aspect of this is choosing the correct monetization strategy. This article from The Spur Group explores three different monetization strategies that can help to motivate modern partners and channel resellers:
- Resell: Your partners simply take a referral fee for each sale.
- Sell-thru: Your partners keep control of all client communications, deals, and payments.
- Upsell: Your partners sell professional services or complementary products alongside your product.
The ‘upsell’ monetization model is particularly relevant and beneficial for SaaS partnerships today. That’s because while your software generates more business for your partners, your partners’ services provide great benefits to your customers, thereby increasing both their satisfaction and lifetime value.
2. Encourage partners to ‘compete’ with each other through gamification.
Larry Walsh recommends embracing the concept of gamification to encourage partners’ engagement by using a points system to reward partners and resellers based on their attributes, investments, and performance. The idea is that competition (read: engagement) is spurred when these partner scores are made available, thereby encouraging partners to compete with their peers. The more points a partner earns, the more marketing resources or tech support they’re able to unlock, while also allowing them to catch the eye of the Channel Account Manager and enjoy access to limited resources. Walsh stresses that “the trick to this type of gamification is applying points based on attributes that truly make a difference in partner performance and return value to vendors”.
3. Motivate partners to sell more by introducing partner incentive programs.
We’ve written previously on which incentive programs we’ve found to work particularly well for modern ecosystems in the tech industry. We recommend four main strategies for keeping your partners’ engagement up through incentive programs:
· Sales campaign funds (where your own team devises a sales campaign on behalf of your partners and resellers and leaves the execution to them).
· Solution development funds (where you sponsor or co-invest in demos, resources, or launches to help your partners attract leads and close deals).
· Partner rebate programs (where you encourage your partners to push your product because every time they close a deal, they receive a percentage of the sale price back, based on which rebate model you use).
· Lifecycle funds (where you offer incentives to your partners based on value delivered throughout the customer’s lifecycle).
4. Promote your partners’ services through your own eCommerce marketplace.
Another way to keep partners engaged is to offer them a brand new revenue stream by promoting and selling their services via your own eCommerce-enabled marketplace. There are two excellent upshots of taking this approach. Firstly, your partners enjoy greater visibility through having their services available for purchase on your marketplace. Secondly, you’re able to offer more services to your end customers by seamlessly connecting them with your accredited partners. Yet another great aspect of this tactic is that while your partners take on more of the customer support and services load, your own resources are freed up to focus on your core business focus (like development).
Keep your partners engaged while solving for your end customer by launching your own eCommerce-enabled services marketplace.