An LMS for partner training is essential if you’re one of the 80% of businesses that use channel partners as a revenue source. Like the majority of these businesses, you’ve probably faced some of the same common challenges that stall revenue growth (yikes). We’re not talking simple onboarding here for an extended enterprise – this is where the pulse of partnerships is maintained by providing ongoing and timely training to the businesses that help you stay successful.
In order for your channel partners to be successful and drive share of wallet (SOW), you need to deliver engaging and relevant e-learning and training materials to channel partners and resellers, or they won’t find value in your partnership. If your LMS is depleting resources like time, money, and administrative support but doesn’t bring about some sort of cost advantage, you can go ahead and queue the breakup songs. 🎶
The biggest hurdle here is getting salespeople on board. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink (or take sales training). Now, rarely do we find a salesperson that doesn’t enjoy a drink – of their own company’s Kool-aid, we mean 😜- but when it comes to an LMS, you can’t force them to use it. Getting their buy-in can be difficult, but it’s their participation that will make these programs a success. Think about LinkedIn: sales people use LinkedIn as instinctively as they breathe, and that’s the relationship you want them to have with their learning program and training process.
So how do we get them and other team members to take the bait? 🎣 The bit below suggests the LMS features and functionality you’ll want to look for in a partner channel LMS to get those untapped revenue streams pouring in, and ensure your partners feel confident in your offering for the long haul.
- Analytics – all of them
- Epic integrations
- Mobile learning
- User friendly
- Personalized learning experiences
- Differentiated learning solutions
- Authoring tools for content creation and curation
- Remote content
- Social learning tools
- Delegated administration
- Audience grouping
- Virtual learning functionality
- On the job training verification
- Sophisticated automation
- Rules of engagement
Unfortunately, organizations can’t simply deliver one-time training and expect the partnership to move smoothly or for your partner networks to sustain trust in your organization (bummer, we know).
Channel partners not only need marketing material and product training, but they also need incentives to be motivated to move your products. Constant sources of engagement like certifications help them to maintain their motivation to keep on keepin’ on.
Analytics – all of them
The best sales training programs can deliver analytical data that is critical to the channel’s success, but sales data is only part of the equation.
Sales data can only show how a partner channel is performing, but it doesn’t show the weaknesses within the partner program. You can tie training data to sales data to paint a clearer picture of your relationship and the return on investment (ROI) of partner training, but a really solid LMS will provide this data across all training modalities, not just formal online learning environments. That’s the goal.
Channel training is a big effort, and it requires an inclusive business strategy where you leverage other systems to provide better accessibility, data, support, and information to partners. Pro tip: integrating with partner portals creates even more personalization for different audiences (say it with me: oooh, ahhh). Some other big integrations include Salesforce, Hubspot, authoring tools, eCommerce, and HR systems. Ensuring you’re able to make single sign-on happen for your organization with integrations is another helpful tip as well, and makes it as easy as possible for your sales teams to sign in. Integrations help things move simply and sustainably for your partners, and that’s what they like to see.
If there’s anyone who understands what it means to be on-the-go constantly, it’s a sales rep and, and because of that, they need product information that meets them where they are (literally).
Mobily learning (m-learning), or content that is accessible on a mobile device, keeps your salespeople on a role and, most importantly, doesn’t slow them down. When your partner education is easy to access for salespeople, that’s when it becomes a sustainable competitive advantage so that salespeople can learn offline, grab product training content quickly, or stay in the loop with notifications and text messages from an app.
We feel most comfortable with our own branding, look and feel. Use white-labeling on all communication, marketing, and training material to maintain those oh-so familiar brand elements that build trust with your partners. Choose an LMS that offers customization features and give each partner their own portal that they can configure and personalize to suit their needs.
This one is no mystery. If people don’t like to use it, they just won’t (at least not willingly). Period. Sales teams are busy, so they like simple, easy, and quick. Anything that requires more effort than they feel its worth is going to make them avoid this software that you’re devoting a ton of resources too (and that’s not a good look).
Personalized learning experiences
One size fits all is a lie! We hate to break it to you, but it’s almost always true. People learn differently, require different resources, and have different media preferences. A partner enablement experience that is tailored by company, role, title, and department all create a user experience that feels relevant and tailored to the learner. Ensure all of your partners have personalized training channels to make sure all of their people have specifically what they need. Going so far as to find a solution with AI (wink wink) helps even further by providing content suggestions based on user behavior and interests. Sexy, we know.
An LMS can deliver knowledge in a variety of ways to ensure every learner is supported. A differentiation strategy allows you to backup instructor-led classroom training with online and mobile learning materials that can be accessed on the job and in the flow of work. Formal training solutions alone has a low retention rate when it’s not paired with on-the-job training (yuck), so make sure your partner channels get some good ole’ fashioned (but very modern) hands-on experiences as well.
Gamification and rewards in your learning programs can be a powerful tool to encourage partner channel engagement. A partner training LMS with gamification and automatic reward rules can simplify the task of incentivizing partner channels. Channel administrators can set up automatic rewards based on performance and use an LMS to monitor progress and distribute rewards. Pretty cool, eh?
Authoring tools for content creation and curation
Bottom line: find a channel partner that makes content curation and creation easy. No one should have to be a tech wiz to get the job done. Authoring tools that allow you to import content and create it within your LMS are necessary, and they will allow you to bring your training to life with different media types, storylines, assessments, and animations to further cement your channel partner training.
In-app embedding allows you to integrate with other systems with HTML embed codes instead of setting up entire custom integrations manually (phew – nightmare avoided). There’s no reason for the learning management system to be a silo of confusion when you can make it simple to pull course descriptions, functionality, content, and courses with in-app embeds. Sound easy? It should.
If there’s anything we’ve heard over and over again, it’s that trying to use more than one LMS can be a huge pain in the you know what.
This is where your partner training program gets tricky because each organization has its own LMS preference. With content packages like SCORM and xAPI, remote content can be stored in a central repository source so that the LMS doesn’t inhibit content access. Admins can refresh and manage content in one instance and then the updates are reflected for different channel partners in their respective systems. This is the best domino effect that ever was.
Social learning tools
Social learning tools can be used to unlock siloed expert knowledge within a parent organization for channel partners and drive customer success. Channel partners can use message boards within an LMS to pose questions for industry experts to further enhance these online training programs. Peers can also answer questions and rate these answers to ensure only the best information is used. The good news? Enablement programs that leverage social learning tools spark engagement and cement product knowledge retention.
This is where top-notch reporting, admin tools, and dashboards come into play. When selling content packages to channel partners with employees, you need delegated admins to oversee the operation. This means making sure they are able to manage their company’s users, content, and LMS reports.
Reports should not be time-sucks or inhibit admins from making the most of the LMS at large. The ability to pull reports based on users in similar grouping structures (departments, roles, titles, etc.) allows admins to send relevant communications, suggest content, and compare assessment outcomes without a hassle. It also enables your LMS to automatically update user profiles as necessary when different assignments and courses are completed. Winner winner!
Channel learning is a target market to charge partners for content, training, or certifications (cha-ching 🤑). It’s a great way to drive your bottom line but requires a learning platform that has e-commerce functionality living in the LMS. This means ensuring globalization, proper security protections, and the ability to take different payment types/gateways.
Virtual learning functionality
Traveling for training has got to be the least efficient mode of training, considering the cost and lack of knowledge retention. In addition, creating new pieces of learning content for each new piece of information that people need to learn can also take up too many resources and cost a pretty penny. Virtual learning in an LMS enables you to host webinars or record training so that learners can access these materials easily and on-demand.
Huge time and cost savings can be made through live online training, delivered via virtual classroom capabilities. Do note that this often requires a 3rd party integration, but they’ll help you rock the house (virtually).
On the job training verification
To validate that assignments and supervised training have been completed in the right way, on-the-job-training checklists are here to save the day. They allow learners to perform tasks while an assigned supervisor checks off a series of questions or statements as related to the learner’s task completion. This helps in step-by-step training scenarios so that we know learners are equipped to do the job at hand as the process adheres to company guidelines and training. These checklists can include different media types like videos, photos, or completed documentation.
Sophisticated automation (pinky’s out)
An LMS can deliver training material to channel partners faster with automatic enrollment rules and certificates. Enrollment rules can be configured to ensure the right members receive the training they need, without the need for manual assignment. This way, your partners get the certificates they need to prove they’re ready to represent your brand, and your LMS administrators don’t have to lift a finger. Simply put: don’t wait, automate!
Rules of engagement
We’ve got to keep our people in check sometimes. Required courses within the LMS can be used to enforce rules of engagement in the system. To ensure they know the rules, partner registration systems can be explained with a course that has a required certification.
These strategies and tools are proven to be effective and have positive outcomes, such as:
- Better partner education to increase product knowledge and partner performance
- A more personalized and engaging customer experience
- Learning material that strengthens partner enablement and sales efforts
- Creating a bigger SOW with better channel partner training
- Competitive advantage to partners for better value-added services (VAS) and after-sale enablement
- Faster training and enablement with easy integrations with partner portals
That’s all for now, folks! If you have further questions, we’ll be here all week 😉