With channel sales representing 75% of global commerce, vendors often rely on channel partners for a significant portion of their revenue. But with so many vendors fighting for their attention, getting potential partners to respond in the first place is often a major source of frustration. So when the courtship pays off and you initiate onboarding activities, you have one chance to stand out and prove to them that they made the right decision.
Channel partner onboarding is the beginning of what both parties expect—and rightly so—to be a mutually beneficial relationship. It’s an opportunity to impress the partner and generate confidence in your company’s ability to deliver everything they need—leads, resources, training, and a roadmap for the first 30-60 days.
Despite best efforts, however, surveys indicate almost 40% of enterprises take 30 days or more to onboard a new channel partner. And when it comes to channel partners, time is money, so the “honeymoon” period doesn’t last long. If they’re not selling your products or marketing them within 90 days of onboarding, they probably never will!
Failure to deliver an effective and meaningful partner onboarding experience can be catastrophic. It can drive potential partners straight into the arms of competing brands. On the other hand, effective onboarding can serve as a launchpad for attracting partners, enhancing engagement, increasing revenue, and reducing attrition.
With revenue and reputation on the line, here are three reasons why your partner onboarding may need a facelift.
Reason 1: Manual partner onboarding
Despite it being the 21st Century, many vendors are still using the same onboarding processes they developed when initially launching their channel sales program. Slow, inefficient manual procedures for extracting, validating, and standardizing partner data are bound to break when partners change or modernize their process and tools. Moreover, instead of leveraging agile principles for implementing changes, manual—or ad hoc—procedures and disjointed relationship management tools are more of a barrier than an advantage.
A complex onboarding process is one of the fastest ways to trigger partner disengagement, resulting in wasted time, money, and effort recruiting the partner. And when you’re trying to onboard and manage dozens—if not hundreds—of channel partners, delays and errors can quickly escalate into onboarding backlogs despite investments in dedicated channel management teams.
Solution: Overcoming the challenges of manual onboarding, partner relationship management (PRM) software connects and automates the data pipeline—ingestion, validation, and control—within a single tool for onboarding and managing dozens of partners in parallel.
Leveraging an integrated, end-to-end platform centralizes your partner relationship management and eliminates the excessive steps found in manual workflows. It provides businesses with an automated onboarding framework for quickly integrating new partners with minimal human intervention. Self-service onboarding capabilities also make partners feel like an extension of the direct sales team, delivering faster time-to-value and generating lasting loyalty.
Reason 2: Legacy infrastructure
While many partner programs are run using email, Excel spreadsheets, and SharePoint, others use legacy systems requiring extensive coding and middleware to integrate data from disparate sources. The result is a needlessly complex environment requiring regular intervention and maintenance by the IT department to keep the information flowing, performance metrics evaluated, and partners on board.
With partner managers often complaining of a lack of visibility, vendors need a 360° view of the channel from day one. Legacy tools and cumbersome processes inhibit the flow of granular insights into operational performance and the ability to conduct risk assessments, minimize disruption, and safeguard your brand image.
Solution: A state-of-the-art PRM portal offers a holistic view of your channel and provides the basis for proactive channel management with self-service onboarding, on-demand product training, and automated activation— under your control and adhering to your designated approval process. Eliminating manual processes and legacy tools, PRM software automates the partner onboarding process, expediting alignment and enablement. It also provides a 360° view of key channel performance metrics for creating new incentives and SPIFFs to boost engagement, accelerate sales, and drive revenue.
Reason 3: Onboarding bottlenecks
With partner contracts, contact info, access rights and roles, and connectivity requirements, trying to manually connect each partner to multiple applications using inefficient, redundant processes are a constant source of frustration for partner managers. Having to call or email IT creates an onboarding bottleneck, disrupts the exchange of information, and leads to delays and a subpar partner experience.
With new, partner-reliant business models on the rise, the need for efficient partner onboarding is increasing exponentially. If you’re wrangling with authorizations, data compatibility issues, and an IT department fighting one fire after another while your competitors are utilizing the latest tools and processes—such as self-service onboarding and advanced partner relationship management (PRM) solutions—the long-term impact on your brand can be massive.
Solution: Eliminate onboarding bottlenecks and backlogs by automating the process. PRM software does it all for you: it evaluates risk, automates contract signing with integrated e-signature apps, and automatically activates partners once they’ve agreed to your terms and signed the contract. Once on board, they’ll have full access to sales playbooks, on-demand product training and certification, deal registration, and collaboration tools via the PRM portal to help them get selling—faster. Using an enterprise-grade PRM solution also allows you to enhance your portal with fast, easy integration with other cloud applications or legacy systems, providing an unbeatable user experience for your channel.
Digital transformation is driving new partner expectations. Businesses can no longer rely on manual onboarding processes and disjointed tools to onboard partners, drive sales, and generate loyalty. With automation accelerating onboarding time by as much as 300%, a modern, cloud-based PRM solution is no longer an option—it’s essential.
To find out how Magentrix can accelerate your partner onboarding, sign up for a 15-day free trial.