- December 12, 2018
- Posted by: Jessica Baker
- Category: Channel Programs
It’s an easy trap to fall into: give your program so many bells and whistles that you end up needing an instruction guide for partners to understand how to work within your program. Sometimes your best intentions get the best of you (and your program). Sometimes you don’t provide the partner experience you set out to provide. Sometimes Less is More.
Take a lesson from Steve Jobs. If you’ve ever owned an Apple product, you know they are designed to be intuitive. If you need instructions on how to use it, you’ve over complicated it. Partners don’t want to spend 2 minutes, never mind 5 or 20, to figure out how to navigate your benefits or resources. The trend these days is super simple. Your program should be as intuitive as opening up a new iPhone. Your experience in opening that iPhone box is both exciting and predictable. Which is not easy to achieve. Think about it. How do you become excited about something that you already know you know? It’s because you’ve come to trust that opening that box will not require a huge manual to use it, and that it will work when you turn it on, and that it will act exactly as you think it will. It’s time to have your program provide that same experience. So, here are 6 tips and tricks to help you trim down the complexity in your program and return some value to your partners.
1: Power of 3 Big Ideas
Studies show that most people can remember 3-4 things at any time. Any more than that and you’re pressing your memory luck. When designing your program, think about your 3 big ideas and how they will work within your program. Your 3 ideas could be something around training, or marketing, or a new product launch, or portfolio expansion, or seller initiatives or, or, or…. There are nearly limitless things you could want to do with your program. But if you keep it to 3, chances are your partners will remember your 3 Big Ideas.
2: Take The 2-Click Test On Your Portal
When partners access your portal, they are there for a reason. And that reason should be no more than 2 clicks away. Want to register an opportunity? File an MDF claim? Find some literature? Access training? All those actions should be super, super simple to navigate to on your portal. Why do partners come onto your portal? Figure that out the top 3 reasons and provide one-click access to those activities or resources right on the home screen or landing page. Make big, easy to navigate buttons. Just like your program, your portal should be intuitive to navigate.
3: Clear the Noise
It’s very easy to become a “repeater” of company information out to your partners. When actually you need to be very deliberate on what and how you share information with partners. Partners are not your customers. They don’t need to be hit with every tweet, press release and marketing campaign that your company sends out. Instead of a repeater, act as a filter, and clear the noise. Make the information available to your partners if they want it. Instead of sending them every little thing, digest the most important communications of the week and send short updates with links for more information and let partners self-serve if they want more.
4: Make Communications Relevant
Getting your communications to the point where you can provide relevant information to the relevant audience is really a must-have today. Systems are such that you should be able to track an individual’s role within a partner account and messaging platforms are sophisticated enough to know to send marketing material to marketing teams, sales materials to sales team. Yes, it takes discipline to capture the correct data, and organization to find the right content for the right audience. But your partners will be thankful in the long run.
5: Plan Your Communications
Almost nothing should be a surprise for your partners. If you’ve taken the time to organize and filter content to the right people, your partners should be informed and primed for the next big thing. Of course, there are strategic or confidential things you don’t share with anyone until they are public knowledge, but in the general course of business, partners should not be caught off-guard. Any event, change, request, enhancement, or update should be shared with partners in plenty of time for them to digest the information and adjust if necessary. Another power of 3: Tell them what you are going to do, tell them as you do it, tell them you did it. Keep the surprise to birthday parties.
6: Make MDF Open and Easy to Access
I pick on MDF a lot. It’s because the most complicated tool that most of us have in programs has to do with MDF. Market(ing) Development Funds are great, but they also generally require a PhD in business process to navigate. Here’s where your critical eye can really help. How hard is it for partners to request funds? Claim funds? Provide Proof of Performance? How many steps, fields, uploads, clicks, and check boxes do your partners need to complete to go from start to finish? In one program I counted over 100 different things that were needed to complete – from “first name” to “final ROI”. (As an extra tip, 100 is too many!) Your number will vary but over-complicating the process doesn’t help the incentive become more effective. You just complicate the partner experience, and probably leave MDF dollars on the table quarter over quarter. Like your portal, follow the process from end to end with a critical eye and ease up on the hoops to jump thru on MDF. It’s a valuable tool that doesn’t have to be as complicated as most of us have made it.
It’s very easy to overstuff our programs with great stuff that unintentionally crams too much stuff on our partner’s plate. It’s a lot of stuff! For your new program resolution, pledge to know that less is more, and your partner experience will be better off for it.
If you need help streamlining your program, AchieveUnite offers program assessments to help you identify where you have opportunities to improve partner experience. Check out our Accelerate offering and contact us to learn more.