By J.P. Dundas, Director of North America Channel Sales, Fuze
Happy partners are vital to the success of a channel program. With so much competition for channel business, it’s important to differentiate your program from the outset to attract and retain new partners. Creating a network that prioritizes your partners’ best interests will help you secure their loyalty and devotion.
Here are some tips to build fans internally and externally to support a successful channel program.
Set Up a Channel Program that Works for Your Partners
Partners engage in channel programs because of the clear value it brings to their business, including increased revenue and new working relationships. However, having a channel program that’s clunky or difficult to manage is an easy way to frustrate your partners and may have them rethink their partnership. Think about how to make their channel experience as seamless as possible. Offer programs that provide brief, clear messaging, are easy to navigate and encourage participation and registration.
Show They’re Valued
Sometimes the simplest things are the easiest to overlook. Everyone gets busy, but you should make it a priority to show partners your appreciation and how they are valued. I will never forget the time I sponsored an event and felt burned after never receiving a “thank you” from the event organizer. It may not seem like a grand gesture, but a little kindness and thoughtfulness go a long way. Take this one step further by sending a handwritten note to show you appreciate their partnership and want to invest in it. Whether it’s to thank them for a new account or to invite them to a networking happy hour, they’ll be pleasantly surprised with the gesture and appreciate the extra effort.
Remember the Small Stuff
Build meaningful relationships with your partners. Find common ground or take an interest in their personal lives. Ask them about their upcoming weekend or vacation plans. If they mention a birthday or anniversary, write it down, and make it a point to ask about it afterwards. Building strong relationships is the key to aligning and driving toward the same goal together.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
A partnership is built on mutual respect, trust and effort. If your partner is feeling like the relationship is one-sided, chances are they won’t stick around. Make a conscious effort to consistently ask what you can do to support them. Partners are often bombarded with competitors reaching out in hopes to steal their business away from you. While that’s a nerve-racking thought, partners will only buy from the companies they like and trust. As long as you make their needs a priority, show value and treat them how you’d like to be treated, they won’t go anywhere. Plain and simple: be someone that you could see yourself working with.
To solidify a strong channel program, you need to be willing to invest in your partners. Creating a successful channel program takes time and effort, but in the end, it’s built on strong partner relationships. Consider these tips to foster the partner relationships you already have and use them to build even more fans in the future.
J.P. Dundas is the director of North America Channel at Fuze. He works with partners strategically to help them build new business and strategy. J.P. knows that the key to success is building strong relationships with partners, customers and co-workers. In 2012, J.P. was named as “Readers’ Choice” as a Top 15 channel manager in the telecom indirect channel by the readers of Channel Partners magazine and has also been invited to numerous President’s Club’s throughout his career. Follow him on LinkedIn.