Many software vendors rely on channel partners for growth, expansion into new markets, and to provide essential implementation services to guarantee deployment success with end-user customers.  Supporting your channel to help them sell is essential.  But how well do you actually know your channel?   

Channel partners can take on many different shapes and forms and are often comprised of a highly diverse group of SI’s, VAR’s, MSPs, and ISV’s.  Each type of partner has distinct needs and may have specific goals that they are looking to achieve through their partnership with you.   

While many channel partner programs have integrated marketing support as part of the deal, not all partners take advantage of such initiatives.  Many either do not have marketers internally, or they have no real experience with marketing and can easily get lost if they are not guided towards the support you are offering them.   

Running a partner satisfaction survey by partner type can be a great way to pinpoint areas of improvement for your channel program and will help you stay on top of changing needs (and business environments) over time. 

Here are some tips to get you started. 

Tip #1: Keep it Short and Sweet 

No survey campaign should take more than 5 to 10 minutes time to complete.  The longer your survey is, the more likely your respondents will drop out before the end.  You may think that your partners will complete it because it’s in their interest to do so, but that is simply not true.  Limit the number of questions you ask to get to the heart of what you want to learn from your partners and cut the rest out.  We recommend no more than 10 to 12 questions total, using a mix of multiple choice answers and free text.  Be sure that if a partner drops off the survey before completion that someone is able to easily reach out to them to engage in a one-on-one discussion, and can encourage them to finish it over the phone.   

 

Tip #2: Run the Survey Regularly 

Surveys are most interesting when you can track progress over time.  Running the survey twice a year using the same questions each time will not only help you stay in touch with your partners, it will also enable you to concretely see how your efforts are paying off.  By doing this you can monitor the changes in responses over time and focus on improvement areas as you continue onwards.  

 

Tip #3: Create an Infographic and Share It 

By creating an infographic out of the survey results, you can share that information with your partners, and leverage it when reaching out to potential new partners.  Prospective partners want to understand the benefits of your program, and there’s nothing like having your partners explain that themselves.  Not only will you build rapport with your current partners (because they will feel heard), but prospective partners will also be happy to learn that you take your partner’s requests seriously.   

 

Tip #4: Thank Your Partners with Goodies 

Everybody loves gifts, and sending your partners a goodie bag as a thank you for their support is a nice way to compensate them for having participated in a survey.  This can include mugs, water bottles, pens, t-shirts, post-it notes, key chains, or other swag.  Make sure you have the best mailing address from each partner so that your goodies actually reach the person they are intended for (and don’t end up sitting in an empty office space for months).  Encourage your partners to take a photo of their swag box and post it on your social media channels with appropriate hashtags to spread the word that you take care of your channel. 

 

Tip #5: Listen and Act 

When analyzing the survey results, that’s when the gold comes in.  You shouldn’t only be looking for praise, but the areas you need to focus on in order to improve the partner experience.  When you can listen without judgment and set out an action plan accordingly to fix what needs fixing, you will be on the right path to improving your channel program to suit the exact needs of your partners. 

 

 

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