7 Reasons Why Companies Need a Partner Onboarding Program
In the bustling world of business, first impressions can make or break a partnership. That's where the magic of a well-crafted partner onboarding program comes into play.
Having a robust partner onboarding program is the key to unlocking the full potential of collaborations. Whether you're a seasoned business owner or a budding entrepreneur, understanding the importance of a well-structured partner onboarding program is essential for driving growth, fostering strong alliances, and achieving mutual success.
Prepare to be captivated as we unveil the seven compelling reasons why every company needs a partner onboarding program. Let's dive in!
What is a B2B Partner Onboarding Program?
A partner onboarding program is a combination of activities that involves signing new partnering members into your company. It is a series of processes targeted towards training and retraining your partners, including the resellers, referrals, and affiliate marketers, with the right skills that enable them to be successful at marketing and selling your products.
A well-organized partner onboarding program is crucial to any successful partnership because it offers you an opportunity to expressly state the dos and don’ts to your new partners. It is imperative to acquaint your partners with your business and brand to achieve mutually beneficial results.
A new channel partner’s life cycle begins with excitement. Your company is prepared to expand its reach, while your partner anticipates the potential for increased sales as a result of collaborating with you.
However, the initial happiness may only take a relationship so far. Complications and miscommunications can get in the way of your business if you don’t do a good job onboarding your partners.
A well-thought-out partner onboarding speeds the process, makes data collection easier, and helps your company align with its agencies, partners, and service providers. More significantly, it instills in your partner a sense of trust and teamwork, encouraging them to get working for mutual success.
An effective onboarding program includes a VIP access program, which is usually an elaborate process because partners need to be trained and re-trained for more productive performance. VIP access programs typically include educating your partners, maintaining strong ties, and conducting performance reviews, among other things.
7 Reasons to Have a Partner Onboarding Program
It is important for you to put well-designed partner onboarding training in place before and after building a partner relationship program. Below are the top seven reasons why business owners should have partner onboarding programs:
1. Encouraging Productivity in New Channel Partners
New partners coming on board know little or nothing about your business. The onboarding process gives you the chance to define fundamental expectations, address ambiguities, and respond to important inquiries before they become safety concerns or productivity killers.
The onboarding process encompasses everything from ensuring that the partners have access to the resources and equipment they require to establishing the foundation for a long-term relationship with management and leadership.
As partners go through the partner onboarding training, they quickly catch up with those who have been with the organization for a long time. This allows them to achieve higher levels of productivity faster than they could if they had to figure it out themselves.
New partners conventionally take 8 to 12 months to reach their full productivity levels if they are not properly onboarded. CSO insights revealed that 63.5% of companies that appropriately executed partner onboarding experienced revenue boost.
Partner onboarding training often runs anything from six months to a year because partners decide whether or not to stay with a company within the first six months of engagement.
Partners feel more at home in the company if they receive continuous training and involvement during this time. They must demonstrate that they made the proper selection after the crucial six-month period. After this period, onboarding moves from a training strategy to one that encourages continuous development.
2. Nurturing Strong Relationships and Teamwork
A lasting relationship cannot be achieved unless you acquaint your new partners with the right organizational values at the initial stage. This often leads to the birth of a productive team.
During the onboarding process, you can adopt a variety of real steps to build strong, long-lasting relationships with your partners. Effective onboarding employs the human element to connect both new and existing partners on an emotional and personal level.
This is an important tool to grow your partnerships, pass on institutional knowledge, and sow the seeds for unending future collaboration. Partners will be inspired to promote your company’s products rather than look for a different partnership offer with another company.
3. Building an Amiable Environment for New Partners
One of the first official encounters a new partner has with your company is during the onboarding process. This is also the period during which inquiries and difficulties are likely to arise.
If the process itself is hassling, it can be difficult to overcome the partner's concerns. However, if everything goes well, the seller will have more faith in your partnership.
Providing an amiable environment is one of the easiest means of familiarizing your partners with all the resources they require to get started. Begin your onboarding process by familiarizing your partners with every detail.
Partners are more likely to deliver what your company expects of them, as well as the metrics to be met when the environment is amiable.
4. Making Your Brand Easily Stand Out
You might not be your partner’s sole client, which means you’ll be fighting for attention. The onboarding process is a great way to stand out from the crowd and keep your partners’ attention.
When a new partner joins your company, your sales process doesn’t end there. Onboarding is a great way to show intending partners what your company has to offer.
Provide partners with specialized training sessions and materials that will enable your business to thrive. The sessions should be timely, bite-size chunks of content that partners can absorb whenever they choose.
Use your partner onboarding training as an opportunity to educate partners about your company’s cultures and values, in addition to teaching them about your goods and services. Give your partners the resources, training, and messages they need to accurately promote your brand to larger audiences.
5. Calming Your Partners' Anxieties
It’s something we’ve all gone through, both as a vendor and a partner. Eliminating your new partners’ anxieties lies in equipping them with the right skills and knowledge.
Partners that have gone through good partner onboarding training feel more confident and comfortable. It assists them in getting to know one another and learning good communication techniques.
Partners learn how their values can be used to advance your business goals during onboarding. It makes it easier to form relationships, which leads to friendships—a vital part of a pleasant work environment.
You should strategize your VIP access program from the outset of your onboarding process. Orientation days provide new partners their first impressions of the organization and a sense of what to expect while working there. These days must be festive, friendly, and educational.
6. Reaching Success Together
The more a partner knows your company’s programs and services, the better they can serve you and help you achieve meaningful business objectives. That’s why a successful partner program relies on high-quality and effective partner onboarding training.
However, quality onboarding is not a one-way relationship. Vendors should share leads and helpful metrics that will drive business to your partners.
By including training in your onboarding process, you can reduce the time it takes for suppliers to become familiar with your platform, which can help shorten the sales cycle during those crucial early transactions. Your partners will see faster returns if they feel more confident and knowledgeable about your products from the start.
Partners will be more eager to continue working with your company if they believe you have invested in their training and success. Partner churn is expensive, but an effective onboarding process can heighten loyalty and retention.
When partners see early success, they feel at ease dealing with your brand and will be confident in their ability to sell your products.
7. Elevating Partners' Happiness
A straightforward and clear onboarding program naturally lightens your partners and makes them happy. This is because they find it easy to understand, internalize your goals and visions, and quickly see the value they will get from the partnership.
Interestingly, this provides a template for long-term partnership success. Making your process as easy, stress-free, and helpful to your partners as possible is the key to not only building a solid working relationship but also improving that relationship as it grows over time.
Once you have completed the major phases of the onboarding process, don’t lose track of your partners. Regular training and retraining help you build on the foundation you've built in onboarding.
Why Should You Invest in Partner Onboarding?
Partner onboarding training is the foundation of any would-be successful channel partnership. This is because the performance of any partner is anchored on the quality of training being received.
There is no way you can achieve optimal results without training, molding, and retraining your partners in line with the goal of your business.
More importantly, partner onboarding gives you insight into identifying quality partners that need to be retained. Retention is such a powerful metric in business because of the ridiculously high cost of turnover.
Retained partners represent a great return on many investments you make. And onboarding is a solid yet often overlooked aspect of those investments.
Other reasons why you should consider investing in partner onboarding include, but not limited to, the following:
- Increased revenue: Onboarding the right partner naturally boosts your revenue base because it gives your product wider coverage;
- Reduced strain of one-on-one assistance: When partners are sufficiently equipped with the right information on your goods and services, they can act as an extension to your support team, reducing the need for any additional investment;
- Quicker activation: The new changes or improvements can be easily communicated to a wider audience when your partners are well-onboarded;
- Similar results: There is no better way to ensure all your partners deliver according to expectations than integrating a similar training template to your onboarding program.
Partner Onboarding Process: Setting the Foundation for Successful Collaborations
When it comes to building a thriving partner ecosystem, an effective onboarding process is the key to success. Partner onboarding sets the stage for strong relationships, seamless collaborations, and accelerated growth. In this section, we'll delve into the essential elements of a comprehensive partner onboarding process and explore how it can be optimized for success.
Understanding the Partner Journey
Before diving into the details of partner onboarding, it's crucial to understand the partner journey. Each partner goes through a unique experience, from the initial introduction to becoming a fully engaged collaborator. Mapping out this journey helps identify the necessary touchpoints and enables businesses to provide tailored support at every stage.
The Key Elements of Partner Onboarding
- Value Propositions: Clearly communicate the value of the partnership, highlighting how both parties can benefit and achieve their goals;
- Market Development Funds (MDF): Offer financial incentives or resources to support partners in marketing and promoting joint solutions;
- Creative Assets: Provide partners with a range of creative assets, such as marketing materials, templates, and guides, to effectively promote products and services;
- Content Templates: Offer content templates that align with the partner's target audience and facilitate content creation and distribution;
- Guides and Case Studies: Supply comprehensive guides and case studies to help partners understand successful use cases and best practices;
- Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): Clearly define the target audience to ensure alignment and focus in sales and marketing efforts;
- Market Development Funds (MDF): Offer financial incentives or resources to support partners in marketing and promoting joint solutions;
- Partner Journey: Mapping the partner journey outlines the path from onboarding to growth and long-term partnership success;
- People: Introducing partners to key stakeholders within the organization fosters effective communication and relationship-building.
Channel Partner Onboarding Checklist: Laying the Foundation for Success
The channel partner onboarding process is a critical phase in establishing strong, productive partnerships. A well-structured onboarding checklist ensures that no essential steps are missed, setting the stage for seamless collaborations and accelerated growth. Let's dive into the key components that should be included in a comprehensive channel partner onboarding checklist:
1. Initial Partner Orientation and Introduction
The onboarding journey begins with a warm welcome and a thorough introduction to the partnership's vision and mission. This initial orientation lays the groundwork for a shared understanding of goals and sets the tone for a fruitful collaboration.
2. Legal Agreements and Documentation
A crucial step in any partnership is clarity in terms and conditions. Providing partners with clear legal agreements and documentation ensures transparency and avoids misunderstandings. This step fosters trust and builds a solid foundation for the partnership.
3. Product and Service Training
Empowering partners with in-depth knowledge of your products and services is paramount to their success as representatives of your brand. Comprehensive training sessions enable them to effectively position and sell your offerings, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
4. Access to Necessary Tools and Resources
To enable partners to hit the ground running, it's essential to provide them with access to the right tools and resources. These may include marketing materials, product demos, sales collateral, and technical support documentation. Easy access to these resources enhances partner readiness and ensures a smooth customer experience.
5. Partner Onboarding Portal
An effective partner onboarding portal serves as a centralized platform where partners can access all the information, training materials, and resources they need. This user-friendly portal streamlines the onboarding process and becomes a valuable hub for ongoing collaboration and support.
6. Collaboration with Cross-Functional Teams
Effective communication and collaboration are essential for a successful partnership. Encourage cross-functional teams, including sales, marketing, product, and support, to engage with partners. This collaboration fosters a seamless flow of information, quick issue resolution, and the sharing of best practices.
7. Defining Clear Performance Metrics
Setting clear performance metrics and goals provides partners with a roadmap for success. Work together to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business objectives. Regularly track and review progress against these metrics to ensure alignment and drive continuous improvement.
8. Establishing a Support System
Partners need to know that they have a support system in place should they encounter challenges. Offer ongoing support through designated points of contact, such as a partner success manager or a dedicated support team. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions strengthen the partnership and demonstrate your commitment to mutual success.
9. Continuous Training and Enablement
The learning process doesn't end with onboarding; it's an ongoing journey. Provide partners with continuous training and enablement opportunities to keep them up-to-date with product updates, market trends, and sales techniques. Empowered partners are more confident and successful brand ambassadors.
10. Recognizing and Rewarding Success
Celebrating partner achievements and recognizing their efforts is a powerful motivator. Implement a partner reward and recognition program to acknowledge milestones, outstanding performances, and collaborative wins. This encourages a positive and competitive spirit among partners, fueling their commitment to driving mutual growth.
Examples of Companies with Great Onboarding Programs
Hubspot stands out for its comprehensive partner onboarding program. It provides partners with extensive training, certification opportunities, and access to a wide range of resources. The company's partner portal serves as a one-stop hub for all the information and tools partners need to succeed.
Here's what makes HubSpot's program stand out:
Comprehensive Training: HubSpot offers in-depth training sessions that equip partners with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively promote and sell their products.
Certification Opportunities: Partners can take advantage of certification programs that enhance their expertise and credibility, giving them a competitive edge in the market.
Resourceful Partner Portal: HubSpot's partner portal is a treasure trove of valuable resources, ranging from marketing materials to sales enablement tools. Partners can access everything they need to drive their success in one centralized location.
Alliance has gained recognition for its automated partner onboarding process. The company streamlines the onboarding journey with user-friendly software that enables partners to complete essential tasks efficiently.
This is how this technology-driven approach ensures a smooth and efficient onboarding experience:
User-Friendly Software: Alliance's user-friendly partner onboarding software simplifies the entire onboarding journey. Partners can easily navigate through essential tasks and requirements, saving time and effort.
Accelerated Time-to-Market: With automated workflows, partners can swiftly complete onboarding steps, enabling them to start collaborating and selling products faster.
Microsoft's partner onboarding program is a testament to its commitment to nurturing long-lasting partnerships. Here's what Microsoft offers its partners:
Access to Tools and Resources: Microsoft provides partners with a wealth of tools, resources, and marketing materials to promote and sell their products effectively.
Ongoing Enablement: Microsoft's onboarding program goes beyond initial training. They offer continuous enablement through webinars, workshops, and updated resources to keep partners informed and engaged.
Optimizing Onboarding with Partner Onboarding Portal and Software
Partner Onboarding Portal
A partner onboarding portal serves as a centralized hub, offering partners easy access to training materials, creative assets, and communication channels. This portal enhances partner engagement and provides a seamless onboarding experience.
Partner Onboarding Software
Automated partner onboarding software simplifies the onboarding process by automating tasks and workflows. This technology optimizes efficiency, reducing manual efforts and accelerating partner readiness.
Automated Partner Onboarding:
Automated partner onboarding streamlines administrative tasks, freeing up resources to focus on building relationships and fostering collaboration. This approach expedites time-to-market and strengthens partner engagement.
In general, executing an onboarding program requires not only your time but also deploying quality tools that will actualize your target.
As much as this is important, equally important is signing agreements with regard to what occurs next with your partners—which many business owners forget. Don’t undermine the important task of training and supporting your partners since they can have a significant impact on your business.
Thus, you should endeavor to adopt the best technology to achieve the goal. Using a reliable Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform is the best way to onboard your partners without any hitch.
Any relevant PRM software often contains state-of-the-art functionalities such as onboarding, incentive programs, partner management, and a lot more.
The Kiflo PRM software offers partner onboarding best practices through its self-service and automated training features. It is equally ideal for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to be on board with full coverage of affiliate, referral, and reseller partners.