- May 1, 2023
- Posted by: T.C. Doyle
- Category: Ask Channelnomics
At Channelnomics, we field questions about best practices, partner strategies, and channel programs every day. In this series, called “Ask Channelnomics,” we answer some of the questions we receive most from vendors.
Question: My company has allocated a significant sum of money for the training and education of business partners. But I’m worried. When we’ve done this in the past — based largely on the request of our most active partners — they haven’t participated at the level we expected. How can we get partners to participate in the very thing they ask for most?
Answer: We hear you. In fact, we hear this from many vendors. Our research shows that vendors’ No. 1 challenge when it comes to training and certification is none other than getting partners to participate. Right behind this, at No. 2, is measuring its impact on partner performance.
It’s ironic when you consider that partners rank hiring and retaining skilled employees as their top two staffing challenges. It’s almost as though vendors and partners are talking past one another when it comes to this issue. While partners see the value of vendor training and certification in helping them address their ongoing staffing challenges, one in five says finding time for employees to attain certifications is a challenge.
So, how can vendors address that conundrum with an eye toward improving partner participation? Channelnomics believes there are several ways.
First and foremost, vendors must look at creative ways to address the participation problem. Building a training and certification program doesn’t mean partners will come running. You must meet partners when and where it suits them given their customer demands and resource limitations. That might be online in virtual settings for individuals to complete at home. Bear in mind that passive instruction isn’t ideal. Hands-on interactions, gamification, and group discussion often yield better results. Even classroom-style instruction leads to greater knowledge-sharing and retention.
But to make in-person activities work, you’ll need to allocate funds to defray the cost of partner travel and time out of the office. That, or be prepared to pony up much larger sums to dispatch a team of training professionals, be they your own employees or third-party experts, to visit your top partners. In addition, you may consider hiring technicians that can backfill for your partners’ employees while they attend your training. (Your distributors can help in this regard.)
You should also look at creative ways that your partners’ employees can leverage accrued reward monies to use for training and education.
Then there’s the challenge of creating effective training materials and keeping them updated. If you ask partners, they’ll tell you that they can’t easily find the materials they need on your automation platform to configure a solution, create a quote in a timely manner, or position a product or service against that of one of your competitors. Worse, Channelnomics research finds that one-third of vendors know they struggle to keep their materials up to date.
To be sure, other challenges abound. Again, the problem cited second-most by vendor respondents to our latest Channel Forecast survey was an inability to measure the effect of training and certification on partner performance (44%). And more than one-third (36%) said they struggle to measure the effect that certification has on end customers’ experiences and business outcomes.
These challenges aside, job No. 1 for most vendors is getting partners to participate in their training programs. Address this problem and you’re halfway home. Only one in 10 partners, after all, believes vendor training programs don’t meet their needs.
Have more questions? Our analysts have answers. Send your inquiries to email@example.com.