Partnership Marketing
October 18, 2022

Partner Onboarding Process: An Essential Guide to Integrating Partners to Your Digital Programme

Partner Onboarding Process

The onboarding process is your partner’s first direct impression of your organisation. It can set the tone for the rest of the relationship. Poor preparation or execution of partner onboarding can even affect the performance of future partnership opportunities.

Optimising the process for speed and efficiency should be your top priority.



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A partnership marketing ecosystem that includes alliances with relevant brands that can offer added value to your audience is crucial for increasing competitiveness and driving customer loyalty and retention.  These brand partners facilitate access to markets where internal logistics alone would have difficulty establishing a firm footprint. This makes effective brand partner collaboration and a seamless partner onboarding process more crucial than ever.

Effective brand partnerships can provide real business benefits such as improvements to your service quality, increased capability when marketing your products to new audiences, cost reduction, and a boost to your sales and marketing ROI. By establishing meaningful alliances with your partners, you can increase the value of your business network. Effective partner onboarding (also called vendor onboarding and channel partner onboarding) should be the foundation upon which this partnership ecosystem is built, and a crucial element in your partner marketing strategy.

The issue is that the partnership onboarding process can be very time-consuming. If your business has a sizeable number of partners, manually developing individual procedures might be difficult.

Adopting a solid partner onboarding strategy, however, can help you reduce complexity and onboard your partners faster, which will have a significant influence on your partnership marketing campaigns.

Before the campaign launch, you must successfully onboard your partners to your programme.

Signing up your partners is the first step on your partnership journey. Partners usually become vital contributors to your business growth and must be handled with care.

This careful attention to detail is what makes your partnership valuable.

A detailed plan is crucial to ease the transition phase for new partners. There are other partnership options in the market, so your onboarding strategy has to be robust and welcoming.

What Does it Mean to Onboard Partners?

To introduce a new player into your current corporate data ecosystem and establish a commercial connection with them as a brand partner, you must first acquire, validate, and consolidate the data and documentation that is required for such an alliance to function. This process is known as "partner onboarding."

When applied properly, it can assist you in streamlining partner management and successfully conducting business activities with that organisation. To ensure timely cooperation and efficient management of the co-related activities and projects, both parties must develop an efficient communication strategy.

The ideal B2B partner onboarding strategy helps prevent unproductive alliances by ensuring that your partners meet your quality requirements. Establishing data governance, validation, and compliance processes helps to reduce the risks and challenges associated with partnership marketing programmes.

Onboarding starts immediately when your partners sign up with your brand. The process is an educational experience for your partners. It introduces them to your organisation and partner programme policies.

It covers a series of steps aimed at training partners, as well as referrals, resellers, and affiliate marketers, giving them the tools and skills to successfully promote your products.

This first impression should be a memorable one for all parties involved. If partners have a difficult time accessing your partner portal or find it difficult to understand your offerings, they might lose interest in the relationship.

Using automation via a robust digital platform like Propello can help smoothen the onboarding process for your partners. It can also help you scale your programme quickly and effectively. Automation makes it easier to share resources and necessary information with your partners and manage your programme successfully.

Successful partner onboarding includes the following outcomes:

  • Ability to scale the volume of partners and rewards into partner programmes
  • Fast go-to-market partner programmes
  • Engaged partners
  • Longer partner duration 

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Why Should You Invest in Partner Onboarding?

Channel partners have a significant influence on customer buying power. Regardless of the distribution channel you currently use, your partners can directly influence sales based on their knowledge of your products.

If your partner onboarding and training are lacking, you might lose valuable revenue from untapped markets. Still having doubts? Here are some more reasons to develop a strategy for partner onboarding.

It sets your partner up for success

Arming your partners with the right tools and product information can enhance their customer communications and increase the chances of programme success.

It ensures compliance and governance

Partner onboarding makes sure that your partners are aware of all internal and external procedures and that they follow them. Using a digital platform eliminates the need for endless paperwork when onboarding new partners. You can run automated scans against external databases to easily confirm the partner's existence and legitimacy.

It helps you to set operational standards

Partnership programme challenges are usually a result of poorly aligned brand guidelines and compliance issues. An effective partner onboarding strategy helps you to create brand consistency and keep up with compliance throughout your relationship.

It helps you scale effectively

Properly onboarding channel partners can help you boost sales and drive growth for your business. The onboarding strategy speeds up the process of getting your products to the customer, offers real-time support, and highlights your UVP (unique value proposition).

It helps you form stronger relationships

Making a profit isn’t good for your bottom line alone; it also often translates to satisfied channel partners and satisfied customers. A winning strategy helps you form meaningful relationships with your partners by keeping them engaged, ultimately making them loyal to your brand.

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How Does the Partner Onboarding Process Work?

Partnership marketing takes a significant amount of time and resources to be successful. Putting a productive strategy in place is one extra step toward improving your chances of success.
Here are some tips to get you started with creating your onboarding strategy.

The welcome phase: welcoming your partners to the programme

As soon as a new partner joins your programme, follow up with them to maintain their initial motivation and encourage them to make their first sale or referral.

Inform your partners about the rewards system. Reiterating this information after enrolment is an effective strategy for keeping partners engaged, especially if you have higher reward levels they can work toward.

The discovery phase

You and your partners work together on your existing processes and procedures during the discovery phase. You get a better understanding of the partner's assets, liabilities, and how onboarding might improve their ability to market your goods.

The documentation phase

During the documentation phase, you provide your partner with the products they need to promote to customers. Best practices, sell sheets, support data, and marketing assets are a few examples of these crucial documents.

The enablement phase

At this stage, you start the enablement training, which involves introducing your channel partners to your business, offerings, brand, and ultimately your customers. Additionally, the training strengthens your value proposition and communications strategies, giving your partner the confidence to recommend your product over a rival's.

The feedback phase

Finally, gathering feedback is a crucial step that will help you constantly improve your onboarding programme. It is the glue that holds together all the good work you put into making the programme a successful venture.

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Monitor Partner Engagement for the Best Results

Even if you meticulously set them up for success, it doesn't guarantee that your partners will perform perfectly every time. Monitoring new partners' engagement levels is a crucial step in any channel onboarding strategy.

Are some partners avoiding the training activities? Then the effort to raise them might not be a worthwhile investment. Are they reading the materials attentively yet failing the corresponding tests? Then, even though they show willingness, they could use some more guidance.

Your regular reviews will be more effective if you have specific knowledge of the areas where your onboarding partners are excelling and failing, since you'll know the right questions to ask.

Monitoring engagement KPIs on a larger scale allows you to correctly estimate your partner activation rate. The components of your onboarding approach that are the strongest and the weakest are also shown by these data patterns.


How to evaluate the performance of your partner onboarding process

Once you've laid the groundwork for onboarding partners, it's critical to determine whether the provided information and activities are being received well by the partners. The strengths and limitations of your programme can be highlighted by several KPIs, including those below.

Rate of partner activation

Despite the fact that there isn't a single benchmark that can be used to define "activation," this KPI represents the number of partners that will survive the onboarding process. Establish a clear definition of partner activation for your partnership programme, such as the first deal registration, the first sale, or the achievement of a specific income threshold. A low activation rate may indicate that your onboarding is proving to be a barrier for new partners, which will directly affect this KPI.

Deal registration and closure rate

The effectiveness of your partner onboarding process is just one of several variables that affect the deal registration and closure rate for your programme. Partners may not be well-suited to promote your offerings and brand if they are unable to locate and convert prospects.



Partner Marketing Playbook: Streamline your partner onboarding process and scale your brand partnerships for business growth

Download our Partnership Marketing Playbook to learn how to onboard partners seamlessly, create a partnership marketing strategy, overcome barriers to launching a digital brand partnership programme to use the channel as platform for growth.

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