Retailers, distributors, wholesalers, resellers, systems integrators, consultants — these are just some of the channel partners that can have the first (or last) interaction with your customers. In other words, you better hope they know their stuff.
A comprehensive e-learning program is the key to giving partners the tools to do their jobs well and ultimately create ROI for your company. Training content should include everything they’ll need to know about your product and services, plus any tips and tech that will help them effectively sell or serve the channel. And since you can’t mandate this training for your partners, having a five-star e-learning program will encourage voluntary opt-ins and use it as you intended.
Here are five requirements for a best-in-class partner training program:
1. A robust and easy-to-use LMS: Use a learning management system (LMS) that enables you to deploy training to multiple partners across your channel without a logistical nightmare is a must. A cloud-based LMS like Bridge by Instructure empowers trainers to control and roll out training courses, and empowers partner trainees to easily learn on their terms (and their phones).
2. Retention tools that work: When 90 percent of knowledge is lost within a week of learning it, retention tools are necessary to keep crucial knowledge top of mind. A tool like Bridge Retain works together with your online courses to send follow-up quizzes straight to the learner’s inbox. Real-time feedback informs learners that they’re actually “getting it” while reporting tools help trainers identify who needs a little more e-learning love. Retention tools > sticky notes.
3. Video training that goes beyond YouTube: Every good training program uses a mix of text, pictures, audio and video. With a video tool like Arc built into your LMS, you can easily upload video to courses and roll out demos, role-playing scenarios, product examples and more to teach your partners in a way they’ll be more likely to remember. But video training doesn’t have to be passive. Just-in-time comments add a social learning element to your training to help keep the conversation going while promoting new ideas and collaboration.
4. Certification programs that actually apply: Developing certification programs for products and services ensure partners know what you sell (and how to be a part of it) inside and out. Though it makes sense for some companies to create custom certifications for products, you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. Consider implementing a vendor-neutral certification program to get more mileage from your training efforts.
Say you wanted to offer a cloud-security certification to your IT partners but didn’t want to limit training to one specific product, you could create a vendor-neutral certification program that would guarantee knowledge of best practices upon completion (and ultimately help them sell more of your products).
5. Metrics that align with KPIs: Metrics and reporting functions are oh-so-handy when you need to take the temperature of your partners’ progress, but make sure what you’re measuring actually counts.
For instance, if a business goal is to increase sales, the process would begin with identifying where opportunities are being lost in the sales process using your sales or lead management software. Then you’d create online courses that address those problem areas (e.g. prospecting, forecasting, closing) and have partner teams complete training on those topics. After training has been completed for a month or a quarter, you’d go back and track whether sales numbers improved. If not, rinse and repeat the process, requesting feedback from partner sales reps.
There are no guarantees of success in when it comes to channel sales. But enabling partners with anytime access to product knowledge and selling pointers is more than half the battle. Luckily, an LMS like Bridge makes implementing everything for your program a breeze.
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