As the internet expands its reach every day, and increasing numbers of people opt for a self-propelled business model, channel partnerships are growing in popularity. The ability to work with an established company while simultaneously “being your boss” appeals to many for obvious reasons.
Channel partnering is one of the most critical and common sales models today, but if the relationship between company and sales partner is to be effective, sufficient partner training is required in the beginning. Partner Training does not include just channel partners, but also retailers/suppliers/manufacturers/distributors that need to be communicated with regards to training. Training may be delivered via a variety of models, including in-person classroom training, workshops at the company’s place of business or – more and more frequently – in a virtual space. As per the current scenario and trends, companies are adopting partner training software to teach and train their partners.
The challenge is of identifying the main difficulties usually experienced by a company in training its partners, and by partners when ramping up to work with an organization or even just maintaining a steady level of product knowledge over time.
As it turns out, online training can solve many, if not most, of these issues.
What is Partner Training?
Partner training is an in-person or online learning process in which a parent company educates its channel partners, salespersons, retailers, distributors, suppliers, and manufacturers to sell or distribute its products for a share of the profits.
For obvious reasons, companies cannot just trust their channel partners to head out into the world and start selling/manufacturing/distributing expensive merchandise – or perhaps more dangerously, using their brand – without first whetting their knowledge levels carefully. Also, training helps in setting the channel partners for success, arming them with product and process knowledge.
Training may consist of a series of smaller classes, an intensive session or modular trainings occurring over time. It may happen in person or online, with physical or digital materials. Trainings may be conducted by external instructors or internal company experts. Whatever the case, the goal for the company is to build a low-cost marketing and distribution strategy, while the partner has the potential to create a real, lasting and meaningful business on mostly individualized terms.
Why is Partner Training Important?
Training ensures that each partner has sufficient familiarity with the products they will be selling/manufacturing/distributing, understands how to use the catalog, can access ongoing products and training over time, and has the right resources needed for long-term success.
Without proper training, companies have little hope of building stable relationships with reputable partners, and partners will face a fierce uphill battle when it comes to a) pleasing customers and getting them what they need, and b) creating a profitable, long-lasting relationship with the company. Training also ensures:
- Ongoing dialogue between the parent company and the partners
- Strengthening trust between organization and partners
- Increasing product knowledge
- Identifying key performance indicators
- Updating the partners with up-to-date sales/manufacturing practices
- Emphasizing on two-way accountability
Top Challenges in Partner Training Setups
Today, partner training has become a time-honored tradition in many companies that use partners to establish their brands. That does not mean, however, that the challenges have disappeared. Each of the following is a potential challenge of partner training that may be eliminated relatively easily by merely switching training to an online environment.
Channel partners do not tend to be hired in batches, but instead, when they show interest and when spots are available. As such, companies need a training method that works all the time, and online holds the answer.
If the course materials are not updated in time to reflect new products or standards, the channel partners are left with misinformation that may be potentially disastrous. Online materials offer the ability to upgrade in real-time and reflect those changes the very next time a partner logs on.
Not everyone learns at the same rate or in the same way. A difference in the pace of learning has historically been a major Achilles heel for all types of training, because those who are not good audio-visual learners or unable to take in a significant amount of information within the space of a single hour or day, often get left behind. As a result, they may fail to sell/implement projects or even misrepresent the company.
Online training helps address that. It is so much easier to differentiate learning in a digital sphere because course creators can preload content to meet a variety of different learning needs. When learners do not understand a concept or get something wrong, they may choose to stay on that topic for as long as necessary.
Globally Located Workforce
The logistical challenges of training partners around the world – an assumption on which many partner-based business models are predicated – are difficult to address if you try to deliver training in person. Going online is a great way to continually bring new partners onboard, offer them quality training and see them succeed.
Additional Perks of Bringing Partner Training Online
In addition to addressing the above challenges, continuously available and easy-to-update online training offers perks such as:
- Wider reach
- Cost saving
- Infinite scalability
- 24/7 access of online courses through mobile learning
- Accredited training programs
- Local, national and global perspectives, modified for each region
- Shared values and vision
- Flexibility and engagement
Choosing the best Partner Training Software for Conducting Online Partner Training
There a quite a few LMS in the educational technology industry which may help you deliver online partner training modules. Your research may lead you to think that you need a system that allows you to imitate a physical learning environment, online.
Therefore, the LMS you select for partner training should have the following features:
- Virtual Classroom – Used to facilitate face-to-face virtual interaction.
- Course Builder – Content is organized with the help of templates while building coursework which makes the instructor’s job simple. The course builder must be supported by a cloud-based content library which helps you to store unlimited content.
- Mobile Learning – Some LMSs can also be used on other devices through mobile applications, which enable the learner to access modules 24×7.
- Test and Assessments – Within the LMS, there are templates/formats for creating tests.
- Analytics and Reports – To best judge for yourself how the class is doing, you should be able to access attendance, course completion rates, and other markers through the LMS.
- ECommerce – An integrated eCommerce portal makes paying and keeping track of transactions, simple. A proper LMS should provide this support to you.
A learning management system (LMS) is an online platform that is designed to support delivery of learning material and be a conduit to engage the online learners. The instructor is responsible for the back-end operations, while learners participate in the live class, chats and discussion boards, and consume the online courses. The organization should get the option to create self-paced courses (with no end-date) and scheduled courses (with an end-date), include live classes in their courses, through the LMS.
Through the LMS you will be able to share technical modules and will as soft skills courses which can benefit your partner to imbibe knowledge that you feel are essential in doing their jobs well.
Looking Toward the Future
It is clear, with the increasingly global nature of many organizations and the escalation of digital connectedness worldwide, that companies will look to digital solutions more and more. At this point, online partner training is more than a trend – it may just be the digital solution that transforms your company from doing well to being an industry leader.