• Think of your partner program as a living, breathing organism that needs to keep evolving to stay competitive
  • Follow a structured, phased approach to making changes to your partner program
  • Incorporate insight and feedback from internal and external partner stakeholders to ensure a strong partner program

Much like there is a back-to-school season (which seems to start earlier every year – why is that?), there is also a season for corporate planning. And that season for many companies is now.

Lately, I have had more than a few discussions with SiriusDecisions clients who need to make updates or changes to their partner program. There are many reasons for needing to make changes, including:

  • A recent acquisition that necessitates putting two partner programs together and the client is using the opportunity to improve its program
  • A program that worked well when the client was smaller now needs to evolve due to growth
  • A need to integrate tiers into the partner program structure to help ensure similar partners are treated alike

Even if none of the above scenarios apply to you, consider thinking of your partner program as a living, breathing organism that needs periodic updates and changes. It’s a good practice to evaluate it every year and consider refreshing it. Planning season is a great time to consider it.

But where do you begin in making your partner program changes? Start by mapping the project according to three key phases:

  • Phase one: strategy and planning. In this phase, consider your corporate goals and objectives as well as your overall channel goals and objectives. Evaluate your target routes to market or partner types (which starts with a thorough understanding of the target customer), and conduct a situational assessment of the current state of your partner program.
  • Phase two: program design. In this phase, address programmatic elements (e.g. key program considerations, program tiers, core requirements, specializations and competencies, motivation drivers, benefits and entitlements) and determine KPIs to track for partner and program performance.
  • Phase three: implementation. In this phase, develop an implementation plan, look at the program coverage model, do the rollout, execute against the plan and begin measuring key metrics.

For many of our clients, the landscape has changed greatly since they last updated their partner program. SiriusDecisions has best-practice knowledge for the above three phases that provides a great deal of guidance for our clients and can help fast-track a program refresh.

Be sure to talk to and align with the internal stakeholders in your partner program. These typically include channel marketing, channel sales and channel operations. Additionally, make a point of talking to some of your partners, both happy and less happy ones. Your partners have invested in your company by being members of your program and hopefully are willing to offer critical feedback to help you understand the challenges they face. By getting feedback from your internal and partner stakeholders, you will have valuable input to help you make this iteration of your partner program the best one yet.