With the influx of new channel partner types across the ecosystem, moving them quickly and efficiently from recruitment to productivity relies on automated and scalable on-boarding technology.
Channel leaders can overwhelm new channel partners with too much information that is not relevant to their role or focus. The unfortunate, and too frequent, result is a channel that doesn’t get properly trained and doesn’t engage fully in a program.
Channel on-boarding is an extension of learning management system functionality and aims to personalise education and training by partner type, user role, region, tier or domain.
Because of the growth of channel ecosystems, it must support automated workflows, self-guided user experience, scalable notifications and high degrees of customisation and flexibility.
Modern on-boarding platforms are experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, predictive and prescriptive learning paths and gamification. Users must be able to utilise searchable content that is both assigned and discovered.
Firms with the right mix, personalisation and automated level of on-boarding will:
Improve revenue and profit from channels:
Channels amplify business at lower operating costs. Measuring channel growth and attributing cause and effect are difficult. Better-educated partners will outperform less engaged ones.
Expand the breadth and depth of partner relationships:
Investing in on-boarding and extended learning initiatives aligns company values with the partner journey. This long approach means investing in partners’ skills as if they are internal employees. A study found that short approaches drove lower partner lifetime value than on-boarding.
Increase mindshare and loyalty of partners:
Managing today’s channel requires effective handoffs between recruitment, on-boarding, short- and long-term incentives, co-selling and co-marketing. Building expertise and loyalty among current partners while targeting and recruiting next-generation partners takes careful budgeting and finesse.
When looking at the technology that drives on-boarding, channel leaders must align individual vendor solutions to their organisation’s needs.
Channel leaders should evaluate vendors based on their organisation’s specific goals and needs - such as the level of personalisation, customisation and automation required.
They can then determine what kind of learning paths would be the most effective, such as mandatory or voluntary training, assessments, surveys, testing, certifications and online or offline training coordination.
Another consideration is whether the platform supports billing and e-commerce for global currency and tax systems, volume pricing, subscriptions, discounts, promotions and external payment gateways.
Does your on-boarding strategy involve support for assigned content versus discovered content (such as navigational functions, searchable catalogs, filters, tags, categories, authors, ratings, reviews and social recommendations)?
Forrester takes a deeper dive into channel on-boarding, including the top 30 vendors, in the research report: Now Tech: Channel Onboarding, Q4 2019.
Jay McBain is principal analyst of channel partnerships and alliances at Forrester