Questions to ask your top performing channel partners

In a few articles I've mentioned the importance of speaking with your top performing partners to create your ideal partner persona profile. This process lets you narrow down and improve your partner recruitment and retention strategies. Now I'd like to dig into this process a little more to share some helpful questions you can ask your Partners. These questions are designed to help --

1. Create a baseline assessment of your top performers
2. Find any strategic strengths or weaknesses you can plug program benefits into
3. Support better relationship building with partners at future program development stages

Demographic Questions
These should be simple and to the point. You should have most answers in your CRM (customer resource manager) however--it doesn't hurt to confirm details! Ask about company name, size, such as number of employees, location, number of offices, and other locational details.

Identifying what makes your top performers stand out - Sales and Marketing Resources
By asking questions about your partner's sales and marketing resources, you can start building a solid profile of your partners. These are questions that you can layout across a grid and use to make judgements about the average stats of each partner in your program.
  • What is your most successful target market when prospecting?
  • How many sales reps do you have?
  • Do you have a dedicated in-house marketing staff or rep? Or do you work with a marketing agency?
  • How large is your current customer base? (This affects referrals)
  • How large is your current lead pool? (This can give you an idea of how strong their sales funnel may be)

Current Marketing or Sales Strategies
Very often, companies have marketing or sales plans but no strategies.
If you are having trouble identifying the difference, think of plans as a fuzzy image of where you would like to be, and strategies as carefully plotted goals with testable outcomes.
You can ask your top performers about their marketing or sales strategies to get a better idea of whether or not your product line forms a key part or is just happening to "pick up steam". You can also ask them about their strategy to find out if they've taken on selling your product as a part of their overall business plan in a real, tangible way.
  • Do you have a marketing calendar you can share with us? (If you have resources to review it)
  • Have you planned out any assets to support a campaign for our product line?
  • Do you have a marketing or sales plan? (There's nothing wrong with being direct!)
  • What role do you see our product playing in your current plans?

What they think makes them stand out
It never hurts to get their opinion about what they think makes them stand out from the competition. Your partners are likely to be a part of the same market space. Find out what they think means the most to them and their customers.
  • What do you think makes your business stand out?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What do your customers think of you and why do they pick you?
  • Why did you choose to take on selling our products?

Find out what they think of you--and share some free advice.
No survey is complete without feedback.Your partners will feel better about answering your questions if they feel like they can gain some useful input in return. Don't be afraid to:
  • Accept criticism. 
  • Talk candidly about where your partner program has succeeded or failed to enable your partners.
  • Ask followup questions about situations that frustrated your partners.
  • Ask for input or advice on how they would improve any shortcomings.
Finally, thank your partners for their participation and offer something tangible in return for their advice and time.Remember that good partner relationships start with strong communication and responsiveness.Take feedback seriously and let your partners know that you plan to use it to improve your program and offering.

About Mindmatrix
Mindmatrix is the only single, fully integrated platform offering complete marketing and sales enablement for direct and indirect sales. Mindmatrix offers Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software, Channel Marketing Automation, Asset Management software, Sales Enablement software and Marketing Automation software for the complete enablement of your sales and marketing teams.

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