Top 10 Tips for Setting Up a Partner Program

Multi Ethnic Team During Meeting

We've been working with various partner programs for the last 20 years. Some very good... many NOT so good.

Today, setting up partnerships in business is a standard practice for many new companies.

It's a lot of work to do it right. Since so many companies now have partner programs, it's also very hard to compete with all the other companies pitching their programs.  So how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you get your partners to use your product over the competition?

Here are our Top 10 "Must-Have" Tips for setting up a successful partnership program:

  1. Give Partners a Free (limited, but usable) copy of your application - Establishing a "Freemium" model is very popular these days.  However, the "Puppy Dog" close is a better description of why you want to do this.  Salesforce.com used this technique to get started with partners and... well, look at Salesforce now. If you're not familiar with technique, the "puppy dog" close is a technique modeled after a parent bringing a child to a pet store to "just look" at the puppies.  The Store Owner offers to let you bring one of the puppies home for the weekend to "just see if your kid likes the puppy."  As we all know, your child will never let the puppy go back to the store on Monday... so the parent goes back to buy the dog.  It's worked for decades selling cats and dogs... and it works with selling partners as well.  Get them to start using your product or service every week.
  2. Create Marketing Automation Campaigns for your Partner Program - Establish four campaigns (over time):  prospect partners, new partners, experienced partners and one for your special top-rated partners. Include the following:
    • Monthly Partner Webinars - Build better relationships with your partners than the competition. Keep them updated and interested in your programs.
    • Monthly eNewsletters - Keep them up-to-date with your products, services, customers, industry updates and recognition.
    • Update Social Marketing Programs
    • Video Success Stories
  3. Set up a Special Phone Number and assign a Partner Specialist (even if you only have one person available).
  4. Build a Partner Dashboard / Portal including:
    • Reward and Recognize partners to win them over to you
    • Provide an easy way to share information, logos, collateral, success stories, etc.
    • Registration Forms for new partnerships
    • List the Top 10 Partners - Rank your Top 10 Partners each month, quarter and year.
  5. Make Joint Phone/Internet Sales Calls with your top ranked partners initially... and others when you have additional resources.
  6. Build a Marketing Template Library - Make it easy for your partners. Give them tools to build your sales.  Other companies are doing this.  Partners usually go to the easiest sale. If you're too difficult to work with, they will go to other easier options.
  7. Join or Set up a LinkedIn Groups - Regular groups that you actively promote and manage. The key is regular activity.
  8. Set up Your Own MeetUp Groups around the country.  Start with one Meetup Group locally and grow as your resources permit.
  9. Conduct Quarterly Partner Review Meetings with the Management Team. Keep them short initially.
  10. Plan an Annual Company Partner Meeting. Start small and let it grow as you grow.

As you know, there are many more projects and tasks needed to build a successful partner program. I hope this list starts some conversations going with your team. Feel free to add your comments or other tips below.

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