Partner Enablement in 2023
This section explains how to enable a partner, including the approval, onboarding, and enablement stages. Many resellers (retail is different) will call or email with questions about your partner program. Some may need to see the product before they decide. Once a reseller decides to come on board, they complete the reseller application, you approve it with an approval email, and you start the onboarding and partner enablement process.
Following is a bonus video that is one of the actual lessons from the Certified Channel Manager course on enabling partners. It may refer to templates (including those shown in the video) and additional instructions with the program files–available within the full course.
When the partner completes the detailed application (it is a job application, not a lead form–so it can contain a LOT of information which helps you to qualify and later profile your resellers). That’s the trigger. You would then do the following:
- Review their website. Confirm he is a reseller (sometimes prospects will apply to try to find out the reseller margin (it is taught in price negotiation classes)) and that he meets your criteria.
- Prep the approval email. Add the reseller to your portal (they should not be able to add themselves since you have to approve first) and put their login credentials into your letter, provide a link to your Not-For-Resale (NFR software or sometime NFR discounted hardware). You may have to add a code to the approval email (often they get a free sample then you convert it to an NFR), any other customization to the template.
- Send the approval email. Here is a sample Reseller – Approval e-mail.
- Call the reseller immediately. The review and approval process should only take minutes. Once you send the approval, then IMMEDIATELY call the reseller. It typically takes 7 phone calls to catch a reseller at their desk (they are installing, selling, prospecting and are not always at their desk). If they applied you know they are at their desks so call quick. Welcome them on board and commit them to attend the orientation meeting.
Orientation Meeting – Partner Enablement
Part of enabling a partner includes basic orientation. The orientation meeting would typically take one hour and you would cover the following:
- Portal Demo. You would start with a demo of your portal, the critical policies and allow them to download the Price List, Demo Script and Competitive matrix. It should take about 7 minutes. Here is a Sample Demo Script that corresponds to the Chanimal portal.
- Product Demo. You would then give a model of how you would demo the product. It should take about 17 minutes–the ultimate time before a prospect starts losing attention (longer demos are typically “training” demos–not selling demos). Demos that follow this format have typically increased the close-ratio over 20%. We won’t cover why or all the reasoning here, but attached is a sample product demo script
- Promotions. You would reiterate your special promotions.
- How to Order. Make sure the reseller knows how to place an order.
After the orientation meeting, you would schedule a meeting “to get the product on their website.” It is actually a marketing plan of action meeting, but getting the product on their website is the first deliverable.
RULE: Never leave a meeting without setting up the NEXT meeting (remember, it takes an average of 7 calls to catch them and email can delay the process).
Marketing Meeting – Business Partner Planning
Another way to enable a reseller is sometimes referred to as Business Partner Planning. However, I refer to it as a marketing meeting where I get to know the reseller, find out what has worked and hasn’t worked for them, and set up the next 90 days of promotions. Before I cover the points, I’ll address the topic of “Business Partner Planning.
Many companies require a “business plan” from their resellers. The problem, most plans are about marketing, but re-“sellers” (as their name implies) are sales and tech folks (most have very few if any marketing folks on staff), so they don’t know how to write them, vendors don’t like to read them, and most partners don’t follow them.
The exception is the resellers that are large enough to have a marketing person or department—in which case the vendor and partner can meet and create a very detailed plan with ads, events, direct mail, direct email, special webinars, etc. It depends on your product type. But about 80% of most partners for SaaS companies don’t have these resources, so it is wasted effort (don’t have anyone to execute that many activities).
Instead, for most partners, I recommend quarterly “Plan of Action” meetings (like this first one), followed up by monthly meetings to help partners to execute. Certainly to begin with. In these cases, the Channel Marketing Manager (see Roles of the Channel Team) will act as a regional marketing manager with them. Attached is a sample plan of action meeting agenda (Agenda for Partner Marketing Meeting – Sample Plan of Action) that shows how a typical 20-minute marketing meeting would go. This one includes sample data.
I usually recommend the same three initial promotions with each new partner:
- Get the product on their website (using an SEO landing page that the vendor provides). One of my vendors with over 4,000 partners only had the product on 13% of their partner’s websites—that’s a travesty. The bait: you can’t send them leads until this is done and you will add them to your reseller locator when completed. Type “Anti Phishing Software Mumbai” and the first listing (has been for the last year) is a reseller for IronScales. It shows the landing page squeeze copy and it obviously works. This way the resellers can generate their own leads immediately.
- Send an email to existing clients. It explains that you now carry the new product (see sample).
- Set up a lunch and learn. It is usually a virtual lunch (send them Pizza) and a webinar. The vendor gives the product demo remotely (many partners may not know the product well enough to demo initially), you give the dog and pony show, then send them a quote template and help them close the deals. Then the reseller sees how the process works. Once the plan is done with dates, I follow up on the dates, we download the templates from the portal (I never send them anything—so they always know the content is in the portal 24/7 and I don’t become their secretary), and then I help them to execute (again, acting as their regional marketing manager).
At the end of each quarter, I schedule another 20-minute meeting to rinse and repeat (using other promotions that work). Using this approach, I reverse the 80 (not selling) / 20% selling rule and get over 80% of my partners selling.
Ongoing Partner Enablement
The Partner Follow-up Worksheet (Partner Follow-up Worksheet – SAMPLE) shows the process to enable a reseller partner—which includes onboarding, initial setup and then monthly promotions. I turn it into a strict process and it always works. The setup includes the approval email (Reseller – Approval e-mail), set up in the portal (sample portal links: Portal Clone (no password needed—has a LOT of sample content), and the clone portal (can clone in 10 minutes and contains every policy (agreement, lead, MDF, deal reg, NFR, and training policy), all the systems (LMS for certification, forum for inter-partner collaboration, partner locator, forms,) and instructions in the admin section with a TON of samples) at Sample Portal
Then there is the product demo (described above), the portal demo (details above), then it goes to the marketing meeting, ongoing newsletters, monthly promotions, and promotions.
Incentives help enable a reseller to sell more. They include rewards (get product on website—get leads and added to the reseller locator), jump start margin (extra 10% for the first 90 days—one of the few that goes to the owner (and he can decide if it goes to sales) since it cost him to pick up new products (learning means not selling), then SPIFFs—for sales. These usually follow the rules for motivation (opens in own window) found within Chanimal.
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