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Looking at the future of Partner Training?

How do you rate your channel partner training?

Across all markets, one of the largest unaddressed challenges companies face is handing over the responsibility to partners to sell their product or services, especially where there’s a whole suite of technical products.

It can be an extremely resource intensive task, in terms of delivery of the training, internal management and budget. And even after launching partner training, audiences can become disengaged with the content and don’t receive the correct level of support, according to one training specialist we spoke to last week.

In fact, one of the most common pitfalls in implementing a partner training scheme is a lack of resources — be that time, people on the ground to run the training or budget — claims Lloyd Smith, Managing director of Wahoo Learning, a managed learning services provider, specialising in delivering customer and channel partner training programmes.

“Setting up and running a training programme is a huge investment of admin resources and cost, both of which are essential. Training also takes valuable time out of both the partner’s and company’s working days, so committing to training, especially during time-sensitive deadlines, can cause disruption if not managed carefully,” he says.

“No matter the size of your partner network, implementing and managing a learning management system takes a wide skill set across training delivery, e-commerce, analytics and reporting. If the training needs to be developed across different markets, distributing it to team members worldwide will need to be translated and localised to the relevant markets, rather than simply being copied and pasted.”

Lloyd also says that, when it comes to the content itself, it must be engaging with a clear learner pathway. If this isn’t prioritised, course uptake and completion will remain low, and participants will become frustrated rather than feel supported. In contrast, using interactive, rich media and incentives for completing milestones can help motivate and even encourage competitiveness between learners.

Another often overlooked challenge is how to launch your training programme.

“You may have built a beautifully designed course, with gamification and certification schemes to keep students engaged, but no one knows about it,” says Lloyd. “This is where you need to bring together the managers at your partner organisations to sell-in the training to their teams. Work with your marketing team to create an outreach strategy and accompanying campaigns that create a buzz for the training launch, while continuing to communicate the benefits of your courses into the future.”

It’s also important to remember that partner training is not a one-time process, he adds:

“If the training is infrequent and there is no certification to ensure students’ knowledge is refreshed, a skills gap will form, which is only widened when trained individuals leave their organisation. Without any promotion or updating of the programme, the volume of learners will drop off and the training will go stale. A consistent and considered approach to training ensures a steady inflow of new learners while keeping students who have gone through some level of training engaged and coming back for more. This adds a degree of resiliency to the ups and downs your company will face.”

Lloyd says data-driven IT solutions help combat a number of these challenges. He notes that, rather than starting from scratch, the company tailors a pre-existing model to a business and its training requirements.

“From the beginning, key training performance indicators are set to ensure the highest standards, including metrics of programme compliance that can be automatically reported on. By having this instant feedback on engagement, businesses can understand the areas of the training which are being engaged with, and those which might need to be altered. The flexible set-up of an IT solution means training can be changed much more easily and updates can be pushed out to your partners rather than overhauling the whole programme.”

Today, much of the training process can be automated through a SaaS solution. Interestingly, the programmes can be revenue-generating and, in some cases, even self-funding to maximise the ROI.

“The in-depth analysis of the various courses provided by a data-driven solution, such as engagement rates or revenue gained, allows you to adapt your training strategy to match the statistics that matter most to a business,” Lloyd explains.

It appears that, in training, alongside an increasing number of other areas in the channel, automation is set to play a greater role in the vendor-partner relationship. And yet, as with anything, automation will only succeed where human intervention enables it to. So the automation economy continues to expand it reach through the channel, led by the decisions and interactions of the humans that support and benefit from it. 

Author: Christine Horton

Publish Date: 23/09/2022 15:19

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