The best partner engagement strategies start with accepting some home truths around the realities of what your partners really think and how they really act.
- Your partners don’t care that much about you.
- They aren’t waking up in the morning excited about logging into your partner portal.
- They won’t download your app.
(and the very few that do definitely won’t use it vs. catching up on Facebook!)
So I hear you ask - why bother if the partner engagement outlook is so gloomy? If no-one cares why invest time and money on launching a new partner portal or program offering? Some great companies have turned their portals off having asked themselves these very same questions.
Well the truth is, if you start from a position of facing and embracing these realities there are significant competitive opportunities to be had. To realize these, you need to put yourself in the mindset of a partner user - that’s another human being like you and me. Someone who barely has barely has enough time to read their email and who won’t download an app or learn software they don’t really value.
Think like a partner
So what would you really want if you were in the shoes of one of your partners?
If you are a business partner working with your brand you still need to engage. The easier you can make this for the different types of partner users you need to serve for the bigger the advantage you will have.
Ask yourself some hard questions - if you are a partner sales rep selling a high volume of deals what do you really care about (and what is just irrelevant noise)? Or a marketing operative at an MSP who just needs access to your brand assets and content to update their website? Or if you were a brand new partner signing up to a partner program - why are you doing that? What do you need to understand and what are the next steps?
If you can start to think about what your partner users REALLY need the paradigm starts to change. Introducing portals with tons of features and functionalities that are unlikely to get used seems ridiculous. Setting up complex application processes and forms that discourage 90% of new registrants from even applying doesn't seem like a good idea. It’s not rocket science.
It may sound daunting to try and think all this out but like most things in life, a practical, common sense approach is most likely to work. You aren’t trying to work out every possible combination of who a user is and what they really need, so the best way to get started is to think about the key personas and take a ‘less is more’ approach. If you can understand that all a referral partner really cares about is a button to add a deal quickly and find the three or four key marketing assets they need to get in front of a customer then you should focus on how to provide just for that.
If you over engineering or over thinking the experience for your user they just won’t engage, simple as that. You may think the offers, features and functions you are providing are great but this is not about you, it’s about your users and the real world they live in!
Embrace best practices
You don’t need to re-invent the wheel - organizations like Sirius Decision have already given a great deal of thought to how personas and partner journeys and have some great methodologies already worked out. Our recent joint Webinar is worth a watch if you want to learn more about this.
At Webinfinity, we’ve been thinking about and working on this problem for more than 15 years. That has led us to a ‘template’ driven mindset where we can anticipate most of the variables usually involved in mapping out key personas and experiences. We start there and then tweak around your business and your program maturity - here’s more on how to understand your Channel Life and why that is so important.
“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”
I’ve always loved that saying because it is so true. When it comes to partner engagement it truly does take a genius level of understanding to achieve the goal of being ‘all things to everyone’ in a way that keeps it simple and personal for each and every user.
This is where technology comes into it’s own. In the same way it would be physically impossible for human admins to manage Facebook, the right technology approach to partner engagement can systematically and automatically engage your entire channel ecosystem based on rules you define and behavior that is learned directly from the user.
That’s been our primary focus at Webinfinity and why we are now seeing some incredible results with world class companies who are working with diverse partnerships all around the world. There is a huge opportunity out there for those who realize the future of partner engagement looks a lot more like Netflix than Oracle or SAP!!