How do you communicate with your channel partners to get maximum mindshare, productive collaboration, and engagement?
Being successful today means positioning your company to seize a share of the $100 trillion worth of value coming from partner ecosystems in the next ten years.
Communicating effectively with partners leads to:
- Growth in mindshare, collaboration, and engagement
- Successful marketing campaigns across the channel networks
- Increased indirect sales, productivity, and profitability
As an integral part of partner relationship management, effective communication that increases the value of your interaction with partners follows these three techniques:
1. Always think in terms of mutual benefits
Apart from a free flow of information, your partners want mutual trust and dedication to each others' success. Getting your mind made up to foster this kind of relationship with your partners is the first step in communicating with them effectively.
Understand that your partners work with other companies, and you're most likely in a competition for their time and energy. They will usually choose to dedicate those priceless resources to the vendor whose program is more beneficial, respectful of their needs, and easiest to work with.
Communication is a major determining factor in how easy it is to work with anyone. It has to be timely, relevant, balanced, and helpful.
Make it easy for partners to reach the information they need by only sending relevant information. Avoid the everything-for-everyone approach and segment your audiences when reaching out. You can make these segments role-based.
Then, balance timeliness with relevance to don't bear down too hard on either one.
2. Keep it simple
There's already a lot of noise, laborious processes, and cluttered information. Too much information will only complicate productivity for your partners. Anything you share with them has to be easy to understand and access.
Ask yourself: Is it easy for my partners to find what they are looking for? Or do they have to scroll through long blocks of texts or dig deep into your partner portal to find what they need for a specific purpose?
Are your enablement resources right where partners will expect to find them? Or have you changed their location or organization without prior notice and guidance?
Do you have systems to stay up-to-date with their progress with the leads you send them? Or do things go dark after you send them leads? How do you communicate progress and status reports? Is it possible to automate it to reduce workload?
Segment your messages. That way, you're only sending relevant info to the right audiences. Ensure resources are intuitively organized and use partner relationship management (PRM) software to run a tight ship.
3. Maintain a two-way communication approach
Effective channel communication is only possible if you and your partners are on the same page. When you speak, do you pause to listen?
You don't want to just dish out information to your channel partners and not hear anything back. That's almost like being a newspaper — and even newspapers listen to their readers once in a while.
So, communicate in such a way that partners can send replies and comments. That way, you can hear what they think about your messages and gauge their reception of your sharing information. It's called a closed communication loop. Listening to feedback in real-time can boost performance big time.
Unlike email blasts that tend to give off a one-way communication vibe, try using Slack, Microsoft Teams, or a Facebook Group. This gives people an easy way to share their thoughts directly with those who need them. A great PRM will have messaging features that aid collaboration.
Effective communication is the foundation of fruitful relationships with your partners.
To ensure you boost collaboration and engagement for more indirect sales and profitability, use this rule of thumb for effective communication with your channel partners:
- Start with your goals—What do you want to achieve together in your channel?
- Prepare for relevance—Who's getting this information, and what do they need to know?
- Choose your medium—What is the best way to reach your target audience?
- Decide how you will speak—What words will you choose and how well you express your thoughts accurately?
- Plan out next steps—What will your partner do with the information you shared? Tell them.
- Repeat your message—How often will you say it to get the point across?