A partner education and enablement program can help you equip your partners with the resources that they need to effectively market, extend, and service your offering. The partners you train may include Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), Value Added Resellers (VARs), Large Account Resellers (LARs), franchise owners, consultants, and agents, among others.
In this blog post, we’ll identify the key components and benefits of a partner education program and delineate how partner training differs from customer education.
Comparing Customer and Partner Education Programs
External training efforts typically focus on two audiences: customers and partners. Getting a sense for the similarities and differences between these two audiences can help you build effective, targeted programs for each.
In our experience, customer training programs are focused on driving product adoption, customer health, and a reduction in support costs. Partner education programs, on the other hand, are all about enabling your partners to successfully market, service, and support your offerings on your organization’s behalf. It’s important to keep these goals in mind as you design your program. That said, similar to Customer Education, partner training can consist of instructor-led training, on-demand training, or a combination of both.
Types of Content
When it comes down to the resources required for an effective partner education program, there are often three main categories of content: product, branding & compliance, and certification. Let’s delve deeper into each of these themes.
The first component of product-related content is often focused on initial onboarding resources which will likely be quite similar to the resources you have prepared for new customers. The second component, which should be more tailored to your partners’ needs, is content that keeps them apprised of new product developments, feature updates, and key differentiators. For some partners, you may also need to create content that helps them build upon and service your product, if, for example, your partner is a developer or IT manager. Microlearning or short, easily digestible, pieces of content work well for this category of content. This might include brief video walk-throughs, a document of “quick tips” based on frequently asked questions, or one-pagers outlining the most pertinent information for your audience.
2. Branding & Compliance
If you’re extending the reach of your company through partner relationships, it’s critical that your partners are living up to the expectations you’re setting for your customers. Since partners generally do not sit in your office, they may not have ready access to the latest and most-up-to-date branding and compliance guidelines for your organization.
One of the benefits of having a formal partner education program is in your ability to automatically push the latest versions of documentation, imagery, and other content to third parties, ensuring that partners’ efforts accurately reflect the current state of your company and product. Organizations can also restrict which content can be personalized or modified by partners when they are selling and marketing to reduce the risk of non-compliant or off-brand content.
Partner education contains an element of reputation management, particularly among sales teams, that is unique to this type of training. If the messaging and/or branding, used by VARs, for example, does not mirror the messaging and branding used by your internal sales team, this disconnect can easily lead to misunderstanding about your product/company. An on-demand training program will help you maintain consistency and keep your partners up-to-date.
This content may include:
- Branded templates for email, presentations, and other communications outreach
- Customer-facing eBooks that require little or no modification from your partner
- Brand Guidelines outlining proper logo usage and copy policies
Partner certification serves to assess the readiness and capabilities of your network so you can have confidence that your partners have the requisite knowledge and standards to represent your company and serve your end customers. Course series, quizzes, proctored exams, or other knowledge checks that lead to certification ensure that your partners understand your offering, branding & compliance requirements. A certification program also creates a standardized set of requirements that all partners must adhere to in order to maintain their partnership. Additionally, certification among your partners increases customer trust by providing prospects with the confidence that your partner is a legitimate reseller of your product or service.
With the right training, your partners will be armed with expert-level product knowledge, enabling them to sell more effectively. By offering a formal education program, you can increase their loyalty, demonstrate that you’re invested in partner success, and foster a stronger partner ecosystem.
Interested in learning more about how Skilljar can help you build a successful customer and partner education program? Check out our comprehensive online guide to Customer Education and schedule a demo now!