In 2017, there’s one feature above all others that every company needs in order to thrive.
It doesn’t matter what line of business you’re operating in or what need your solution fills. It doesn’t matter where in the country or world you’re located. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a five-person SMB startup or a 5,000-employee global operation. If you want to succeed, you can’t exist in a bubble. To win in today’s economy, you need communication. Effective communication is what all businesses have in common—and it’s what, quite literally, ties them all together.
Tens or even hundreds of emails a day, answered from laptops and desktops in traditional offices—or from tablets and smartphones on trains, in the backs of taxis, and even on planes. Conference calls with some participants in conference rooms, others on couches at home, and some in other countries. Globe-spanning video chats with back channels of online chatter, privately and on Twitter, offering a constant stream of real-time commentary as a meeting or event unfolds.
These constitute only a few of the varied types of communication we use in the course of our workdays. When we look at how many forms of communication we use to conduct business, it’s easy to see how communication is the connective tissue that drives the wired world.
As important as being constantly connected and communicating effectively are to business in general, they’re even more important to that incredibly profitable but complex subsect of the business world: channel partnering.
Let’s find out why communication is the secret ingredient to successfully engaging channel partners and how you can meet the advanced communication needs of the space to establish, manage, and maintain a partner program that never stops growing.
Communicating Clearly (When Complexity Is a Necessity)
There’s that old adage about too many cooks spoils the pot, but when it comes to channel partnering, the emerging wisdom is quite the opposite.
For instance, if you’re a vendor that has developed a new SaaS solution, creating relationships with solution providers that can get their clients to subscribe to your service is an important revenue-expanding step. But these relationships with solution providers are going to demand more than just touching base once and expecting the relationship to manage itself. Quite the opposite. A truly successful channel program demands:
- Special campaigns, promotions, and co-branding initiatives
- Ongoing training to make sure your solution is positioned correctly in the eyes of the client
- Onboarding and training of any support staff on the solution-provider end who will be providing support
- Bundled services and white-labeled solutions implemented under a client’s own brand
- Feedback from the solution provider and the client on bugs and potential new features
Those are only a few of the types of things that need to be managed as a team effort between all the parties involved. And that’s just for a single relationship. Expand that to a channel program with tens or hundreds of partners. Then consider the other partners that each solution provider has that may be able to add value to your product by engaging with you. And consider partners that you can bring on to fill gaps in a given solution provider’s expertise.
The number of companies—and the number of individuals—multiplies dramatically. And at each stage of the game, clear and effective communication is critical to keeping partners engaged. With so many players involved in so many different areas, simple errors spiral out of control quite quickly. A single missed email due to a full inbox can’t be cleared up with a trip across the hall. Rather, it can set off a chaotic chain of events that costs all parties involved time and money.
The more people involved, the greater the opportunity for profit, but the greater the chance of error—thus the need for the right communication solution to keep discussions heading in the right direction with the revenue following it.
Effective Partner Communication (and the Tools to Do It)
Because of its uniquely complex communication needs, successful channel partnering requires having a solution in place that can automatically keep track of all the tasks that the various players in a channel would otherwise have to manage manually. This means features like:
- The ability to log and archive discussions between all parties involved
- Easy methods of deploying and grading partner training and disseminating marketing materials
- A user-friendly interface to minimize confusion and maximize productivity
- A file system that keeps the newest, most relevant information on top and easily accessible
Communication is the secret ingredient to partnering—but there’s no reason to keep it a secret. Because every business can benefit from partnering effectively—and using the right communication tools for the job is the first step.