Onboarding and Enablement: Better Together

There’s a saying, “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.” With anything new comes excitement around possibilities and eagerness to get started. However, making sure that a supplier relationship gets off on the right foot means starting strong with onboarding and enablement. These are often lumped together as one process, but they’re two distinct activities, with separate outcomes.

And, both are equally critical.

Of course, success with a new technology provider rests on many factors, from the solution itself to market opportunity. However, regardless of the quality of a product or its business potential, without a sound onboarding and enablement, an engagement can fall flat. I’ve found that the best relationships are rooted in a sense of mutual ownership and teamwork around a joint offering. Over the course of my career, in the most beneficial programs, all sides collaborate to build co-marketing and co-selling motions — the goal is for each party to feel like an extension of the other’s team.

Of course, that doesn’t happen on its own, just as generating revenue and being profitable don’t just happen by equipping people with marketing and sales content. The key is to teach them when and how to use the resources and provide tools to help along the way.

As a partner, if you question the level of commitment and investment from a vendor, it’s difficult to have confidence that the elements are in place for success. How do you recognize a supplier that’s dedicated to working together? Best practices to watch for include:

  • Regularly generated high-value content;
  • Instructional videos and guides focused on when and how to use the resources;
  • Tools to help build business plans, execute marketing campaigns and improve close rates; and
  • Accessibility via an on-demand system.

It’s important that you have easy access to the right set of activities and content to keep positive momentum going. Now, let’s look at both sides of the onboarding and enablement coin.

Onboarding Broken Down
During onboarding, it’s essential to work closely with a channel manager to develop three critical components for going to market. You can’t expect to see adoption of partnership, execution and revenue growth goals without spending the time during onboarding to build the following:

  • A business plan: Make sure there is a level set of priorities and expectations, and that corresponding goals are understood. “Why are we going to market together?” and “What are we trying to achieve together?” are key to ensuring that there will be clarity on the joint value, objectives and alignment of stakeholders, teams and their roles in making the partnership a success.
  • A marketing plan: Agreement on the strategy for growing revenue together, along with the necessary cobranded sales and marketing content, will be critical in communicating the overall value proposition.
  • A training plan: Identify how to integrate into existing marketing and sales rhythm. This content is needed to ensure everyone knows how to market, sell and support the products and joint solutions.

Look for access to a variety of sales and marketing content, internal systems and billing processes, and a scheduled cadence of activities to monitor the success of the partnership during the onboarding process. All of this is necessary before training begins for marketing, sales and technical teams.

Enabling Partners
An enablement program should have plug-and-play content that fits into a larger framework that fulfills what is needed to deliver on the business and marketing plan. The enablement phase is the time to learn how to market, sell and support products as well as the brand. It is also a transition from onboarding state to effectively and profitably becoming an extension of a solution provider’s brand and team.

I recommend looking for three enablement tracks to get the most out of a partnership: marketing, sales and technical. Each track maps to the buyer’s journey, supplies the resources needed to support activities that happen during each phase and recommends tools for advancing the opportunity. Training should be designed to naturally progress through the cycle, perhaps in “mini” 10-minute sessions comprised of educational videos, instructional guides and tools to help effectively market, sell or support products and joint solution offerings.

It’s Go Time
The onboarding and enablement experience sets the tone and raises the energy for an initial launch in significant ways. It is essential to feel confident in the process and be sure the salesforce feels adequately prepared to achieve both organizations’ goals and objectives. That synergy goes a long way and allows for continued learning and combined growth of your businesses.

This content originally ran in Channel Partners Online, www.channelpartnersonline.com/blog/onboarding-and-enablement-better-together

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