Most channel programs see the 80/20 rule in effect around partner engagement. Meaning, only 20% of your partners are actively selling and promoting your products and services. So how do you increase active selling? Recruit more partners? Or find a way to capture more interest with the partners you already have?

Capturing interest and motivating partners to engage is a multi-part process. We covered various partner incentives in the last blog and certainly improving your partner’s bottom line is one of the key components.

Communications as discussed in earlier blogs can improve engagement as long as the information is targeted and personalized so partners don’t feel they are being indiscriminately blasted.

Enablement is a pretty standard component of most partner programs. Partners need to be well equipped to sell and supported through the entire process. Be sure that your enablement process is complete and relevant to your partners’ needs and delivered in the way partners’ want to consume. A complete assessment of your enablement training, processes and tools from the perspective of your partners could give you insight into how to improve partner engagement.

Lastly, how well do you collaborate with your partners? Especially those 20% who are likely driving a high percentage of your channel revenue. Do not underestimate the value of relationship!

In my work interviewing hundreds of channel partners, I have heard many times that partners often choose to work with those vendors who are paying attention to them. Many have told me that while they have to partner with big name market leaders due to customer demand, they will engage more proactively with their competitors if they can build a more collaborative relationship. Number two does try harder…if you remember the old Avis ads. I’ve also seen some of those underdog companies adopt a more high touch partner strategy to gain the loyalty of the best channel partners. This of course starts to build more sales and market share and becomes a key competitive differentiator.

Joint business planning is a great opportunity for engagement. Understanding your partners business challenges and working collaboratively to solve problems and create solutions will build trust and profitable relationships. In our last blog, we highlighted some best practices in business planning.