2024 Partner Journey: Best Ways to Keep Your Partners Engaged
This article is part of a compelling series crafted by Linkon Axon, Founder and CEO of Arys Consultants. The articles give you practical tips on how not to fail your 2024 Partnership Journey Strategy and elevate your partnership program. By leveraging the key factors proposed by Linkon, you will learn how to effectively create, structure, and build a partner program that scales revenue seamlessly.
The Engage stage of the Partner Journey represents the exhilarating point where collaboration takes flight and partnerships begin to flourish. After the foundational work of recruitment and the essential onboarding process, this stage is the launchpad for mutual growth and achievement. It's the stage where partnerships transition from mere potential into dynamic, active relationships that drive collective success.
The Engage stage is marked by a deepening of understanding, trust, and shared objectives, where partners become integral to your business, working in harmony to unlock new opportunities, expand horizons, and create lasting value. It's a journey into the heart of collaboration, where the true potential of your partnerships comes to life.
But what are the most crucial strategies you need to apply in order to keep your partners fully engaged in 2024? We discuss them in detail below.
Foster a Thriving Partner Community
Creating a vibrant and engaged partner community is a powerful strategy that should not be underestimated. It's a concept that extends beyond your internal company dynamics to encompass the broader partner ecosystem you've cultivated. The advantages are multifaceted, as a thriving partner community can transform into an ecosystem in its own right, offering benefits that are instrumental to your partnership program's success.
By turning your partners into an interconnected community, you create an environment that nurtures buy-in, ideation, and the potential for lead generation. One effective way to foster this sense of community is to host quarterly or semi-annual partner events, where partners can interact, share their experiences, and expand their networks. These events serve as catalysts for increased engagement, reinforcing the camaraderie and shared vision among your partners.
The choice of whether to maintain a closed or open community hinges on your target audience and the specific goals you wish to achieve. Closed communities tend to have a higher engagement rate, with the advice and knowledge shared within them being more genuine and exclusive. In contrast, open communities tend to have a broader participant base, offering wider coverage and serving as a potent marketing tool. The decision should align with your strategic intent — whether you aim for a tight-knit, focused group or a more expansive, inclusive network.
Moreover, these partner communities serve as connectors, unifying your partner ecosystem. Hosting in-person partner events, in particular, can yield a substantial return on investment in terms of community connectors. These face-to-face interactions solidify trust and influence, fostering stronger relationships and partnerships. As it turns out, people still value and are profoundly influenced by the connections they forge through personal interactions, making these events a backbone in nurturing a thriving and connected partner ecosystem.
Elevate Post-Adoption Engagement
Post-adoption engagement is the crucial phase that extends beyond partner onboarding. It's the stage where you need to ensure that partner teams don't just use your systems for lead submission but also actively engage with your platform. However, it's important to recognize that there's no one-size-fits-all solution to this challenge. Effective post-adoption engagement strategies must be dynamic, adaptable, and personalized to cater to the unique needs and preferences of different partners.
The key to success here lies in letting the customer dictate what works best for them. Partners have diverse motivations and preferences, so a flexible approach is essential. Some partners may respond positively to gamification strategies, such as point systems, leaderboards, and badges, to keep them active and engaged.
For others, the path to higher engagement might involve streamlining the lead submission process, making it more straightforward and user-friendly. Incentivized tiered onboarding and activation systems, along with reward and recognition programs, can also be effective tools to boost engagement.
To navigate this complexity, conducting partner surveys and interviews can help identify trends and patterns, enabling you to tailor strategies accordingly. Personalized communications, enhanced collaboration opportunities, and one-on-one support further contribute to fostering engagement.
The consequences of effective post-adoption engagement strategies ripple through your partnership programs and even impact the future. Take PRM systems as an example. A stellar product with little post-adoption engagement by end-users can adversely affect the likelihood of future investments and harm the brand's reputation. Therefore, it's paramount to review and enhance this aspect of partner engagement regularly.
The partnership landscape is a dynamic ecosystem that requires ongoing adaptation to align with changes in the marketplace and the evolving needs of your partners. By prioritizing post-adoption engagement, you not only ensure the present success of your programs but also secure a foundation for their continued growth and relevance in the ever-shifting landscape of collaboration.
The Five Pillars of Partnerships Concept
The framework of the Five Pillars of Partnerships provides a holistic approach to onboard, engage, and maintain converted partner leads, underpinning the success of your partner program. These primary elements are not only the building blocks but also the driving forces behind a thriving partnership ecosystem.
The Customer - A North Star for Partnerships: Partnerships are not merely about joining forces with other organizations; they are about delivering exceptional value to your customers. Identifying how a potential partnership can add value to the customer's experience is the first and foremost pillar. When this value proposition is clear and compelling, it's time to embark on the partnership journey.
The Partner - An Extension of Your Team: Partners are the lifeblood of your partner program. They extend your reach, enhance lead generation, facilitate market penetration, boost revenue, increase brand exposure, and contribute to your knowledge base. The absence of strong partnerships equates to the absence of the partner program and all the associated benefits. Partners become integral to your team, driving your collective success.
The Internal Partnership Team - Powering the Program: The internal partnership team serves as the engine room of your partnership program. They orchestrate the program's operations, ensuring clarity in enablement and expectations and allowing partners to focus on nurturing relationships. This team lays the groundwork for seamless collaboration and keeps the partnership ecosystem in motion.
The Internal AE Team (Client Relations) - The Revenue Generators: The ultimate goal of any partner program is to add discernible value that translates into increased revenue. This is where the internal AE team comes into play. They act as the primary point of contact for converted partner leads, forging, developing, and sustaining long-lasting relationships with customers. It's through these relationships that revenue growth is realized.
The CX Team (Customer Experience) - The Insights Catalysts: The CX team is dedicated to monitoring and analyzing customer feedback and data generated through partner interactions at every stage of the buyer's journey. Their invaluable insights inform the business on how best to engage with converted partner leads and guide the optimization of the flow to sustain and grow the program. Their data-driven approach enhances the customer experience, ensuring that it aligns seamlessly with the goals and expectations of your partnership program.
The Five Pillars of Partnerships provide the necessary structure and strategic clarity for your partner program. Together, they create a well-balanced foundation that ensures customer-centric, high-impact partnerships, underpinning the growth and success of your organization in the collaborative landscape.
As we've explored, it is in the Engage stage that partnerships are set in motion, and collaboration takes center stage. Recognizing the significance of post-adoption engagement and its profound impact on partnerships, we've dissected strategies for nurturing active, motivated, and loyal partners who drive mutual growth.
In the next article, we will journey into the "Track" stage of the Partner Journey, where we will delve into the essential steps and strategies for successful results in 2024. Tracking is the compass that guides us through the evolving landscape of partnership management, helping us gauge the effectiveness of our strategies, measure results, and adjust our course accordingly.