A better partner onboarding experience will:

  •         Create an immediate positive experience for partners
  •         Turn your partner reps into champions quicker
  •         Keep partners on track to being ramped
  •         Break the 80/20 rule
  •         Give visibility into partner training status
  •        Let Channel Account Managers focus on building partner relationships


Let’s start this off with a scenario: it’s your first day at a new sales job and you’re excited to get started. You’re greeted in the lobby of the office building, and your employer leads you to your desk. They hand you a couple pieces of paper and walk away. On the paper is all the information you’ll receive – a welcome letter, company overview, and simple checklist of to-dos to review before you’re expected to start meeting and exceeding your quota.

You’re immediately in over your head with no real training, knowledge transfer, or guidance on the best methods to sell and be successful in your new role. That sounds like nightmare fuel for most people, and an understandable reason to walk right out the door.

Now replace yourself in this scenario with your partners and their employees. Sound familiar?

This experience for partner organizations is all too common with vendors. They’re your partners by technicality alone. Many times, 90 days later, partners have not and likely will never contribute to your pipeline. Can you blame them?

Given that kind of welcome mat, most partners choose to continue selling what they’re comfortable selling: not your products, where there is uncertainty and room for failure.

The trick is to get a partner and their reps more comfortable with selling your products over a competitor’s, and quickly. You only have one shot to make a good first impression. The onboarding needs to be guided, engaging, valuable, and on-demand. Easy… right?

Many times, channel organizations are stretched thin, so onboarding processes take a back seat or are manual with zero visibility. The burden of administrative tasks, training, education, and onboarding falls on your team of Channel Account Managers, which frustrates and distracts them from their core responsibility of building partner relationships and selling.

The reality is there is no sustainable way to onboard every new partner and new partner hire without guided, collaborative, automated onboarding.

No matter how automated, collaboration is still a requirement in onboarding to form strong partner relationships. Channel Account Managers should be part of the automated onboarding process, just not the mindless box-checking and record-keeping aspects of it. That’s best left to automation.

Zift can help you with the technology, best practices, and creative services required in successful channel partner onboarding. We believe strongly in process before technology, and recommend taking time to think about what partners need to do in the first week, two weeks, month, etc. to become ramped (i.e. time to first deal and time to quota). A great place to start is looking at your own internal processes, but we also have industry best practices backing our approach.

Creating interactive content partners will find easy to engage with is key to successful automation implementation. This is a great way to integrate partners into the platform and to pass on knowledge to sales teams in a way that holds their attention. Our Creative Services team, for example, uses quick whiteboard videos for training or information purposes to great effect.

I can’t overstate the importance of on-demand training options for partners. Training modules with a prescribed path that partners can work through on their own time give them that extra edge in the field. Partners need that know-how to best frame your solutions for selling. If you don’t give them that, they won’t be able to sell as effectively, and may choose not to try selling your products at all.


Here’s the main takeaway:

Make it easy for partners to sell your products and they will.

If you aren’t helping them get comfortable quickly, you’re ultimately pushing back or eliminating their potential to produce revenue and contribute to your pipeline.

What are you doing today to onboard your partners? What’s working and what’s not?