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You may have lined up a roster of partners for your channel incentives program, and your program may even be up and running. But do you have a formal strategy in place for keeping your team motivated for long-term success?

If you haven’t thought through how to keep your program sustainable, you may be a step behind. It’s important to establish a formal, written plan to ensure your partners get the resources, training and tools they need and everyone adequately understands how the program will progress. U.S. companies are increasingly recognizing that, which is why 59 percent already have a dedicated sales enablement function in place.

The best enablement strategies empower your partners with knowledge about your brand, a clear understanding of your business goals and a strong sense of support so they know you’re behind them every step of the way.

“At the end of the day, sales enablement tools arm your sales team with the content, guidance and training they need to effectively communicate and close buying customers,” explains George Deeb in Entrepreneur. “This includes tools for salesperson training, coaching, content development, communications and customer engagement, coupled with performance analytics reporting designed to best optimize the sales process.”

What should you include in your overall channel enablement strategy?

  • Identification of a program manager within your company as well as facilitators among individual partners.
  • Background information to share with partners regarding your company, your products and your sales playbook. The better participants understand your sales targets and what you’re trying to accomplish, the better equipped they will be to approach prospects. This overview should include both short- and long-term sales forecasts and benchmarks.
  • A roadmap delineating exactly how your program will work, its revenue potential, an explanation of your tier structure and how outcomes can be a win-win for all.
  • A plan for training partners in best practices for marketing and selling your product. Consider staging an event featuring presentations, demonstrations, workshops and other immersive experiences. “Sales reps need to be trained in selling skills, of course, but they also need to adopt skills in marketing, product and industry to be well-rounded and able to manage in a sales enablement environment,” notes Michael Caccavale in Forbes. “This is definitely not a ‘set it and forget it’ proposition.”
  • Details on how your marketing department will support partner efforts, including content such as data sheets, decks, graphs, videos, templates, e-books, whitepapers and information about competitors that can be shared with customers. “Be a trusted partner with your marketing team,” advises Caccavale. “Make suggestions on content topics and tools.”
  • An overview of how automated digital tools will be used to manage and track accounts and communicate updates—and how partners will be trained on those tools. Ideally, the tools will provide visibility and insights around everything from sales team activities to demos to customers’ engagement with content. A study by Aberdeen found companies optimizing such sales enablement tools are more than twice as effective at linking sales actions to revenue, with 32 percent higher sales team quota attainment, 24 percent higher individual salesman quota attainment and 23 percent higher conversion rates. You should note, however, that the success of your plan may rely on whether you choose intuitive tools that reps are willing to use on a regular basis.
  • Plans for how you’ll regularly receive feedback from partners, which may include one-on-one meetings or online surveys.

With today’s technology, there’s no reason to leave your channel program to guesswork or intuition. Every step of your program should be carefully mapped out and strategized for success, both in the long term and the short term.