Channel Readiness Failures – and How to On-Board Partners Effectively
Are companies realistic about the results expected from Channel Partners in the first 90 days after signing them? I’ve seen a lot of companies who sign up Partners and then expect the sales to flow. This isn’t realistic. The expectation for what has to happen in that first 90 days is on-boarding, not sales. Those first 90 days are critical to the success of the partnership in terms of long term success, yet too many companies focus only on sales at the expense of setting the long-term success foundation with a great on-boarding program.
On-boarding = knowledge transfer. Successfully doing the knowledge transfer to a new Partner is critical to their success. I’ve seen many clients spend a ½ day with a partner doing training and then say *go* and that’s it. Then they wonder why the Partner isn’t selling. Then they blame the Partner. This is a bad cycle. What they miss is that it’s not the Partner that’s a failure – it’s the on-boarding gap in their program.
On-boarding should be whatever it takes to transfer the knowledge required to make the partner successful. This is a big deal and it doesn’t happen in ½ day. Many of my clients don’t understand that. They expect it to happen immediately. It requires a long term commitment, a defined and documented program that includes procedures and processes for sales, marketing and operational enablement. And it should start at the point of Partner recruitment.
It often takes years for Partners to acquire the skills necessary to be successful. Clients don’t like this and expect success much earlier, which often sets the relationship up for failure. However, a good on-boarding program starts in the first 90 days after the partner is signed and can last years. Channel Managers should be assigned to assist and support new Partners and the organization needs to provide those Channel Managers with the investment and support necessary to be successful.
Many clients mistakenly believe that recruitment = on-boarding. Intellectually my clients tell me that they understand the difference between recruiting a Partner and on-boarding them, and then they schedule the ½ day training session and then they start measuring success. This isn’t a roadmap for success. A good on-boarding plan establishes a competitive advantage for the Partner and can make them a real advocate for you and your company, and in the long run drives more sales. It provide a framework for the Channel Manager to build relationships across sales, marketing and operations at the Partner. The details will be different in each organization, but the essential objective shouldn’t change.
I’ve seen many clients short-change on-boarding at the expense (unfortunately) of it’s long term success.