The partner journey describes each step a partner goes through when learning about, joining, and earning value through a partner program. It can be likened to the buyer journey. The steps of the partner journey can be defined differently depending on the business, as can the order of certain steps. However, most partner journeys generally follow this structure:
Interest > Recruitment > Activation > Investment > Devotion
The interest stage is where a vendor gains the interest of potential partners. Recruitment involves informing potential partners of your product and offering a partnership. Activation represents the first value earned by the partner. Investment is when the partner recognizes vendor value and invests further time and capital in the relationship. Devotion occurs when partners are ready to scale with you.
Example: Jenn found that only a small percentage of partner were making it to the investment phase of her partner journey, so she decided to spend more time and energy ensuring partners hit their activation targets within their first two months of joining the program.
Partner onboarding is the process of educating and training a new partner in your partnership program to be able to perform the duties required of their participation. Partner onboarding occurs after the partner has formally agreed to join the program and the terms of the partnership have been defined and agreed upon. It can be run differently from program to program, but generally incudes education on the vendor's product and the partnership platform and technology.
The goal of onboarding is to prepare a partner for activation. Onboarding should provide a partner with all required knowledge to fulfill their end of the agreement, which may include (but isn't limited to) marketing the vendor's product, referring leads, selling the vendor's product, or advertising affiliate links. Onboarding may include certification courses so the partner can prove their knowledge of the product and platform is sufficient before proceeding with marketing or sales activities.
Example: ItelCo agreed to a referral partnership with Panner. The first step after signing the referral agreement was to be onboarded. ItelCo took courses and completed certifications, learning about Panner and their referral process as they went. By the time they finished, they were ready to start sending leads!