Certifications are acknowledgements granted to partners for achieving certain milestones. Usually, they acknowledge that a partner has completed product training and is now qualified to represent the company as a partner. They are most often earned as a part of the onboarding process, wherein the partner must learn about the vendor's product to a degree that allows them to comfortably sell/market/share it. Certifications are usually earned early on in the partner journey, but they can also be earned again after product updates or new releases that require subsequent training.
Example: Luke had received his initial product certification on behalf of his partner program shortly after joining Vento's referral program, but a significant update to the main product offering meant he'd be earning an updated certification to make sure he still knew his stuff.
A channel partner works with another organization to market and sell their products or services through indirect channels. Channel partners may be vendors, affiliates, resellers, value-added resellers, agencies, retailers, managed service providers, systems integrators, or other such entities. Channel partners normally undertake co-marketing efforts together.
Channel partners work together as part of a channel partner program, which help companies sell more product to a wider audience through indirect channels. A company can work with different kinds of channel partners simultaneously.
Example: Lana worked with two kinds of channel partners, affiliates and referral partners, to sell and market her company's software.