10 Best Practices for Onboarding & Enabling Industry-Specialized Channel Partners

Partnering with industry-specific focused companies is evolving as a pathway different to traditional solution providers. Compared to the days when the channel came to the vendor to participate in the company’s program, vendors today must go where the partners and customers are if they want to earn the business. Industry specific companies like law firms, accounting firms, and consulting firms are increasingly adding new revenue streams like XaaS practices, security or automation practices.

Here are 10 considerations for onboarding and enabling and industry specific focused company.

  1. Training–it must be business outcome focused – technology for an ROI or a purpose. When asked “How do you Influence Senior leaders? SMB Worldwide Sales at Microsoft stated, “Don’t pollute them with technology. Instead offer the decision makers answers to the WHY question.”
  2. Sales Enablement – it’s about business value and positioning outcomes. Leverage use cases, buyer personas, and customer success stories with ROI and key metric outcomes.   Adults all learn differently so vary your mediums; strike a balance between video, audio podcasts, blogs social media, Utube, peer groups, or webinars.
  3. Employees – as a vendor or company building your channel of these types of companies, consider hiring employees with strong industry specific background and past XaaS. For example, hire a past CFO who will lead your engagements with new accounting firms as partners. Organize them into a SWOT team and charter them with onboarding and getting the partners to revenue. Then turn it back over to field teams to manage once success is proven.
  4. Profile – Understand that industry specific verticals have a vertical and then many micro verticals. For example, a  Micro verticals could include marketing agencies, social media marketers, and social demand generation companies. Attend or sponsor events that are in the partners’ targeted worlds. Events matter. Dawn Lindsay at Lenovo Software says, ‘go where the companies hang out.’
  5. Characteristics – partners want to maintain trusted advisor and influence status in addition to high customer loyalty and stickiness. It’s not all about compensation. Leverage incentive that help partners maintain customer loyalty, stickiness, and the services and profit wrap around a product are critical.
  6. The Two-Tier Model – Leverage progressive distributors, cloud marketplaces, SaaS and Services distributors and master agents and build innovative new business development models. Consider two-tier models to find countries, develop and manage different partner types and get access to the specific industries you want.
  7. Personalization – Rethink the personalization of the partners experience. Show up with them in the way they think and buy versus how we as vendors consume. Partners self-identify and self-select an engagement model targeted to their needs and product. Sandra Cheek, Channel Chief at Ciena just launched a new program with the tagline that all ‘partnering is personal.’
  8. Simple Agreements – gone are the days of 10 page contracts and laborious business practices. Key ingredients should include ethics, enterprise service requirements, branding and associated disclaimers.  AchieveUnite recently completed research quantifying partner lifetime value PLTV ®. The research uncovered that easy and simple agreements are a factor in simplifying the partner experience.   Visit here to learn more:  https://www.achieveunite.com/strategy-and-trends/examining-partner-lifetime-value-as-a-crucial-aspect-of-success/
  9. Social Proof Concept – The customer referral network is one of the most powerful ways to drive new business. Success stories, social network promotion, and use cases of people we trust will drive your new business significantly. Referrals are up to 50% more likely to close than a marketing generated lead according to research.
  10. Partners to Partners Learning– this is increasingly important with industry specific partners ramping software and/or IT and technology practices. Foster forums, roundtables, virtual and/or face to face meet ups, and other opportunities for partners to tell their own stories and collaborate with one another.

Partnering with industry specific partners in their world is vital. Speaking their language is a must. For example, agent is not preferred; instead use referral, influence, or affiliate. Change your language from franchise to licensing, and non-traditional or specialized to industry specific. To get to the partners and customer verticals in their world you must go ‘native’.  To learn more about this topic or about our upcoming CAB: Channel Acceleration Bootcamp Program, just fill out the form below.




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