Worried you will perish if you can't capture attention?
Hope is not lost!
In a previous article, I detailed how attention is worth more than gold and that your partner team, partners, and engagement in the ecosystem is your path to capturing attention.
But how do you make sure your partners aren’t just a 'partner' because they signed a piece of paper? How do you ensure they are paying attention and helping you capitalize on attention?
the action of giving someone the authority or means to do something.
No, not a one-pager.
And not that 90-slide deck you have that you might make partners sit through.
That’s like trying to teach a horse to fish.
True, proper, enablement. This isn’t a traditional success function, nor is it a traditional implementation/onboarding function. Instead, it’s a blend of the two, with a focus on taking action.
It’s teaching the person to fish so they can do it themselves when you’re not there. Empowering them to take action on their own. This isn’t university or college where we can throw information at our partners and they then have to figure out how to apply it. It is transferring the understanding of not just the information, but the importance of implementing into their entire business model.
Businesses may not like the sound of this because it requires a lot of thinking, expertise, and time - especially upfront. If the success of your business hinges on how well you capture attention (and your partners are the medium for that), then the success of your partner program will hinge on how well you provide success through the partnership.
Success through your partner program requires action. Action requires attention.
Why are attention and action so important? The answer is that there are more than enough partner programs out there and your partners are going to spend their own valuable attention and time on the ones that are the easiest to engage with.
Not the ones that give the most referral commissions or MDF funds, (don’t get me wrong, those are great) but the ones that provide a true partnership. Those who can genuinely say, “Joining our program will make your business more successful”. That’s how your partners make business decisions. Will it enrich their core business, or be a side add-on that they may eventually action?
In marketing, they call it opening the loop and closing the loop - you click on the link, the page is easy to read and you know the next step. No distractions. Only empowerment to make the next step as clearly as possible.
This same basic principle applies to engagements with your partners. What is the value of them engaging? Core business growth and success. Why should they give attention? Your program content is engaging and easy to understand. Why should they spend the time to work with you? You are able to enable them to execute on what initially captured their attention.
What happens if you don't do this?
Sure, you’ll have some partners on paper. You may even have some partners performing. But what you’ll definitely have over time is more and more partners that simply aren’t activating.
We talk about the 80/20 rule - where 20% of your partners will generate 80% of your program revenue… but I believe that’s an old way of thinking about it. If 80% of your partners are generating NO revenue (on either side), it is not a partnership. Plain and simple.
Focusing on quality over quantity will almost always win in partnerships.
And as an ecosystem continues to grow with considerably more and more partner programs appearing, as there are hundreds of new technology companies, your partners are going to want - demand! - quality too.
An example we can look to is Hubspot. They have a whole academy dedicated to building a business around their solution. Although it’s a bit closer to traditional education, it still allows for the application of the knowledge (and even prompts users to do so). Not only that, but they have a whole wing of the business dedicated to enablement. Akin to a customer success position, but more closely partnering on building the business with them.
No doubt will we have some partners that naturally fall to attrition. But in order to put our best foot forward as a partner organization, we need to at least open the door, give opportunity to our partners to show that they will invest as much as we do - which means we must invest.
Without that open door, nobody is going to come a-knockin. So it’s best to set it up from the outset and not put the burden of the first move (in YOUR program) on the partner.