Lloyd Smith, Managing Director at Wahoo Learning.
The channel sales landscape is constantly evolving and to meet the growing demands of channel partners, many organisations are turning attention to training as a method of delivering the knowledge that will stand partners in good stead when promoting and selling products. Training is proven to be an effective way to scale your organisation, driving pipeline growth, improving retention, and lowering churn rate. But, with 53% of channel partners stating that content supplied by vendors/ manufacturers is mediocre or worse, it’s clear that organisations need to work on how to deliver clear, concise, and relevant information.
So, how do you ensure partner needs are met? And what does training look like in today’s marketplace?
In this blog, we discuss the technology available to deliver training, how training will benefit your partners and internal team and how you can ensure the training you deliver is future-proofed.
Technology is key
To maximise your channel partner training for the future, now more than ever sees a focus on technology and automation. An LMS (Learning Management System) can help you do just that. A highly adaptable “online education hub”, it provides a large and indispensable set of resources to efficiently support individuals and organisations and can be tailored to suit the needs of your business, whilst being used for internal or external training.
An LMS is a valuable tool for helping you to meet your organisation’s training needs. Not only can it help your learners, but it can also significantly benefit you and your organisation. Some of the benefits include:
- Online training –brings a whole host of benefits, the users are able to go at their own pace, at a time that suits them best and from their preferred environment– whether that’s from the home office, or after the children have gone to bed.
- Saving time–having a centralised learning management system will free up time for training managers, taking the responsibility of training partners out of their hands.
- Centralising and standardising training–having a centralised platform ensures all training resources are in a shared space and ensures all partners are getting the same training, information, and expertise.Partners can also access the training at a time that is suitable for them and fits with their schedules, which is particularly important if learners are in different time zones.It also means the training programme won’t differ from person to person.If someone new comes intoamanagement role, they will receive the same content in the same way.
- Reducing costs–traditional learning not only takes up considerabletime, but it also costs money. Instructors, training days, travel costs, training materials androom hire are all things to consider. A learning management systemon the other hand reduces these costs for your organisation.Once it has been developed and established, it can be used 365 days a year whenever training is required.
- Wider choice of training methods–everyone learns in different ways and the same can be said for your partners. With an LMS, you can choose from several training methodsincluding assessments, webinars, on-demand content, and documents.
- Maximising ROI–having a centralised online system, will provide plenty of data and reports, enabling you to monitor the return on investment and pivot when necessary.
Remote working as standard
Since the pandemic, remote working kicked into force and has now become the norm. Gone are the times when businesses expect employees to be in an office five days a week. As such, channel partner training also needs to adapt. What was previously traditionally a very face-to-face-basedactivitynow has a mode of delivery that meets the change in demand.
Many partners will now be comfortable with digital platforms and virtual human interactions, which comes with their considerations when thinking about channel partner training. Location is now another factor to consider, working from home now enables partners to work from wherever they choose. Make sure you know where in the world they are working from to help with scheduling and regional differences, as well as any language or communication barriers to overcome.
Lastly, partner communications. We now need to focus more heavily on tools such as email, partner portals and instant messaging platforms, to offer multiple touchpoints and ensure seamless communication.
Making internal resources work smarter
Consistency is key with any kind of training. When you have many partners all around the world, there is a lot of training responsibility on one or two individuals, namely Channel Managers. Consider one of these employees leaving or there is a period of change, it is imperative that a high level of service and training can still be offered to your partners.
An LMS gives these individuals back their time to focus on their goals – such as sales targets–and removes the training responsibility solely on them. The level of consistency when using an LMS is also guaranteed – the content and resources are delivered in the same format, ensuring everyone receives the same high-quality learning.
Are your channel partner training systems equipped to go global? Expanding your reachhas never been easier. If you want your business to engage withinternational markets,ensurethe training materials and messages are available in various languages. Some points to consider are:
- Ensure you use reliable translation tools and that your content is localised to the target.
- Aim to select partners that have an established marketpresence and customer base.
- Provide the correct level of multilingual support to enable learners to keep learning and users to feel supported – leading to brand trust and loyalty.
Channel training is here to stay
Channel partnerships are a low-cost way to drive revenue, reach global markets, and increase brand awareness. When utilizing LMS to deliver training, you can scale your partner efforts with ease and with minimal input, as it allows you to take on more individuals without compromising on performance, it can adapt to large amounts of data and enables you to expand your course resources to better serve your partners.
Delivering training online enables your business to expand into other markets with ease. It also reduces the need to travel to training meaning partners can complete it within a quicker timeframe and won’t be waiting for updated information.
There is no getting away from the fact that we are on the precipice of difficult times and a potential recession in many regions globally. Uncertainty has put the markets on edge and made investment decisions more difficult and companies are looking to reduce exposure and risk. That said, many companies have built up significant cash reserves throughout COVID-19 and are looking at safe routes for investment and growth. Trust is an asset in your channel sales strategy at any time, but right now, it is even more crucial. Building trust relationships with your partners by sharing knowledge, empowering your partners, and becoming the standout leaders in your field is key to giving confidence to investment decisions. The pandemic also meant companies focused on their existing customers, securing the base, and upgrading where possible. While conditions might still be tough, the time is right to start chasing new business. The pandemic mentality of survive or die will give way to growth strategies, and as a result, we’ll likely see significant mergers and acquisitions.
Throughout 2023, the global staff and talent shortage in every sector will continue, therefore training your staff and partners to upskill your workforce and increase productivity will be key to any growth strategy.
Hybrid and remote working is here to stay and while the full realisation of the Metaverse might be a little way off, there are opportunities now to think outside to box, utilising new technologies and VR to showcase your products, bring partners together and provide training in new and engaging ways.
The future of channel partner training looks bright, and 2023 is set to be an exciting year for the industry.