Putting together a mutually beneficial partner program means creating a cycle of benefits that extends to both the VARs and the customers–and then back up the chain. Anything that a seller can do that ultimately encourages the customer to use a VAR, therefore, will pay off for them in the form of increased sales.
It stands to reason, then, that partner program policies and services should all be extremely benefit-focused. If it benefits the VAR, and if it benefits the customer, it benefits the manufacturer as well. There are tried-and-true ways to achieve this.
Six Ways to Add More Value for VARs
1 – Dedicated Sales Account Managers
The larger a company grows, the more they will need dedicated managers. These are intermediaries who work directly with VARs to best understand their needs as well as those of their customers. They also maintain the flow of communication, ensuring all updates, product literature, and other materials are conveyed in a timely manner.
2 – Free Training
The more educated VARs are on the products, the more effective they’ll be at both sales and post-sale support. Options here include the following:
- Online webinars or conference calls.
- Self-guided online study and testing materials.
- Periodic in-person conferences.
- “Boot Camp”– a weekend gathering with intensive all-day training sessions.
- USB thumb drives pre-loaded with videos, manuals, or other materials.
When possible, training materials can also be designed to be equally applicable to the VAR and the end customer. In that case, they can be passed directly from hand-to-hand, adding value to your investments.
3 – Marketing Materials
There are two direct benefits to providing templates for marketing materials to VARs. Besides easing the burden on them to create new marketing materials, it also ensures that the manufacturer’s brand and messaging remain constant throughout the reseller chain.
Otherwise, there’s a risk of fragmented messaging or even contradictory claims about the product.
4 – Cultivate Leads
Any company working through channel partners should have avenues in place where interested customers can be put in touch with local VARs. A manufacturer who keeps up a steady stream of leads to their VARs is also likely to see much more loyal VARs in the long run.
5 – Online Portals
Whatever materials a manufacturer has for their VARs, those materials should be stored on a central web portal that offers easy access to everything. This can be a lifesaver for retailers who need old reference materials for a legacy customer or in situations where software updates come often.
If applicable, adding a knowledge base or technical support discussion area is extremely useful, especially for complex products. The web portal can become the central hub for product discussion and ideas.
A well-maintained partner portal is a tool that may see daily use from VARs looking to enhance their services.
6 – Awards Programs
An award system is a good way to “give back” to retailers, while encouraging them to excel at the same time. The best VARs deserve recognition, and that’s exactly what a set of awards provides. When backed up by reasonable rewards, these can drive a lot of sales.
Plus, those VARs who have a string of “Best in Region” awards to their name get extra advertising buzz based on that alone.
Keep the Benefits Coming
A manufacturer that is too hands off with its VARs is in danger of sabotaging sales or driving retailers towards more giving manufacturers. Keeping a steady flow of materials aimed at helping VARs do their job will ultimately drive sales and help keep the customers coming back for more–year after year.