The channel is more complex and accelerating at a faster rate than ever before. To address and learn the critical challenges, opportunities, and top trends impacting the Channel of Tomorrow, AchieveUnite and Channel Mechanics invited an intimate group of senior channel executive leaders to discuss partner program optimization in a virtual roundtable series, The Channel of Tomorrow. In our virtual session, we listened, learned, and uncovered how to optimize your global and regional partner programs to drive maximum joint value for you and your partners.

#1 – Critical Programmatic Design Elements

1. Simplicity on the Frontend – The front-end of your program needs to be simple for your partners and internal account managers. This can be challenging since partner programs are often complex. To help drive simplicity, Channel Mechanics often sees vendors utilizing the concept of ‘zones.’ For example, your partner in a small country, say Ireland, has a goal of 50K where a partner in the U.S. might have a 500K goal. Your program can cater to these regional differences by using the concept of zones. Internally, you’ll place Ireland in Zone D and America in Zone A and then have a list of rules and complexities for each zone. Externally, your partner in Ireland will only see their 50K goal and will not know that zones exist, keeping it simple for your partners while maintaining regional nuances.

2. Balance the Past, Present, and Future – Technology, process, and programs are rapidly advancing. When revamping or changing your programs – do you look to the future, to Microsoft and Amazon, and mimic the programs they are building? Do you look to the past and mimic the programs that have already proven to be successful? Or do you look to what is happening now and find ways to manage the present? Balancing the evolution and demands of your program is challenging. As your revenue and business model changes and advancement is possible for your program, keep in mind that most partners detest change and need you to simplify and guide them through the change going on around them.

3. Achieve Alignment – Your business strategy and partner program must align. If these things are not in alignment internally and externally as you change and expand, then your program will eventually fail.

4. Win Partner Mindshare – Partners work with a lot of vendors. How do you outshine your competitors and win the mindshare of the partner? Vendors often make the mistake of only showing their partners the end prize. In most circumstances, the end prize is typically similar across vendors. Instead, walk your partners through your program and reveal the total value you are giving them from the get-go.

5. The Art of Business Planning – When designing a business plan, you should know and understand your partner’s top priorities and find ways to dovetail your programs into their initiatives. If you do not align with their top three to five initiatives, it may be more beneficial for you to work with a different type of partner. Along with this, the business plan you present to your partner needs to be concise. The business plan should be valuable to your partner while also fitting on no more than two slides or one page. Otherwise, this plan will eventually fail.

#2: Measuring Your Program

1. Don’t – Rely solely on revenue, a lagging indicator, to measure the success of your program. Or spend a significant amount of time tracking the number of deal registrations, marketing events, and portal logins – these things don’t really matter.

2. DO – Measure the leading indicators including, training and development frameworks that enable your partner to successfully deliver your solutions to the marketplace. To do this, you should focus on partner competencies by providing and measuring training that leads to employee retention and development of their professional services and customer success initiatives. The goal is to grow your partner’s business so they can help grow your business as well.


Topic #3: Prioritize Customer Success

1. Walk a Mile in Your Partner’s Shoes Partners work with an average of five top vendors. As you build out your program, consider the perspective and challenges of your partner as they work to integrate multiple solution offerings for their end customer. Ask – how can we help our partner integrate and deliver our solutions to the end customer?

2. Slice and Dice by Persona Not all data and training are relevant to everyone – a marketing executive, vendor manager, and CEO should have the same goal but will be working on different initiatives. Try slicing and dicing your business plan, data, and training by these personas to help streamline initiatives and optimize the experience.

3. Build Before You Land (BLAER) We all know the LAER model – Land, Adopt, Expand, Renew- but did you know partners need to build their practice first before you can successfully land, adopt, expand, and renew? As the model shifts away from partners making money off your platform and toward professional services and the development of unique IP, a strategic conversation around the customer journey needs to happen. You need to support and enable your partner to build practices around your platform before they can go and win business. We call this BLAER!

4. Maximize Joint Value – Partner LifeTime Value® (PLTV) is the long-term value to both vendors and partners from a business relationship that is self-sustaining, scalable and mutually beneficial. There are six domains of PLTV one of which includes training. This training is not just around your product and solution. It’s also around helping a partner understand how they can grow and transform their business. This type of training helps your partners become stickier and more loyal to your organization.

5. Program Clarity – At AchieveUnite, we offer an assessment known as the Value Measurement Index (VMi) that delivers clarity into your partner programs. VMi is a comprehensive assessment that examines your program through 11 research-based program categories and the perspective of both partners and internal teams. The results pinpoint the high-impact areas for improvement and analyze at a deep level why these areas need improvement. You walk away with the clarity you need to build an actionable strategy around your program. If you are interested in learning more about VMi, please reach out to Jessica Baker, Chief Program Officer at AchieveUnite.


A Glimpse into the Future – What’s the Future of Partner Programs?

“This isn’t your grandma’s partner program.” Partner programs are rapidly stepping into the future. As you redesign your partner program, examine the successful programs of your competitors, of the large tech companies with unlimited budgets, and of emerging players in the SaaS world who are doing progressive and innovative things. If you triangulate these three different pictures, you will gain a broader perspective and a better understanding of what works and does not work to build out an effective yet simple program for your partners.

A huge thank you to Channel Mechanics for co-hosting this event with us and to the senior channel executives who we sat down with to discuss how to optimize your global and regional partner programs.