online training

How to make the case for a digital Partners Academy

4 min read Joana Fonseca, Head of Marketing & Inbound Sales

When your partners know how to represent your brand according to your standards, how to sell your product correctly, how to be more efficient in its delivery, and being better at doing what your partners do for your company, it will increase their overall efficiency and performance. This means training your partners is key for better results.

How to make the case for a Partners Academy

1. Have a plan in place

Have you ever heard that “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”? Well, Benjamin Franklin was right. That’s why creating a bullet-proof plan should be your very first priority. Gather information and data on your challenges and issues. Clearly state what needs to be fixed and improved, and the importance of having a partners academy as a solution.
Follow a format that starts with defining the problem(s) and then presents a solution. A training needs analysis can be as simple or as complex as you wish, but surveying managers, employees and partners, and reading operational reports will surely give you the valuable insights you need.

Make sure to present the problem in measurable terms. Saying that 40% of sales are not being closed because your channel partners fail to explain your product’s benefits or are not effectively following up on pending leads is much stronger than saying that your partners need to be taught sales best practices.

As you write down your plan, be realistic about the resources you’ll need, and make sure to measure your baseline as you’ll need to use that to define your goals – and afterwards to compare and measure success.

2. Define SMART goals for your partners academy

When defining the goals, make sure they are SAMRT: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Present achievable and relevant metrics that will be impacted by your partners academy, such as reduce partners’ onboarding time and cost, increase performance, improve operational efficiency, and so on.
Doing the math is key. You need to demonstrate with figures that a partners academy is something worth doing.

3. Do the math

There are plenty of qualitative and quantitative benefits of including online training in your strategy.
Showing quantitative benefits alongside qualitative ones will help you and your decision-makers understand how budget efficient an online academy solution can be.

Yet, as you know, there’s nothing like doing the math and showing the numbers. So, go ahead and calculate the costs and the ROI of an online partners academy. This Online Partners Academy ROI calculator will help you do that.

4. Offer a shared vision of success

It is also important to offer a shared vision of success: your partners academy will have a direct impact on your company’s growth, and its effects will ripple across the entire organisation – in a good way.

Write down all possible benefits of your partners academy. Look for a “what’s in it for me” for each department as surely you’ll find at least one for each. For example, sales can leverage the partners' academy because many of the product and sales skills courses will match their own, so the courses can be used for internal sales training as well. If you do this right, you’ll be surprised with how much backup you’ll get and you may even find other departments that are willing to split costs.

Moreover, by choosing an online solution to deliver training, you will be able to leverage both content and platform to serve other teams and their objectives.

5. Include a roadmap

It’s important to include a course of action in your plan. This includes a choosing the training platform, defining a training content creation pipeline and creating a communication plan.

Opting for an online video-based training platform will give you plenty of benefits to highlight in your business case: flexibility and ease of access, availability, easy maintenance, community features, better retention, lower costs, higher ROI, and more. Here are 12 Tips to choose the right Training Platform.

When defining the pipeline for your training content creation, there are 4 main criteria to prioritize your course production: impact, reach, need, and resources availability. This course production pipeline planning template will help you organize your course creation calendar in an efficient way.

As for the communication plan, it’s important to make sure your partners know about academy and keep coming back for more training. You may find this part of the plan a bit daunting if you don’t work in marketing, but here’s an easy step by step guide for non-marketing folks on how to create a Communication Plan for your Academy.

You can find all the information you need for your roadmap and your overall plan in the bugle blog and our resources page.

6. Be upfront about the resources you’ll need

It’s important to be realistic about the resources you’ll need, and that includes budget, people and tools.
The training platform cost should straight forward. You decide on the training platform that best suits your needs and get a quote.

As for the training content, it may be a bit trickier, as there are many variables to account for. Depending on your budget and on whether you have internal resources that can create the content, you can choose to create the courses in-house, hire an external team, like bugle’s Digital Learning Experiences team, or have a combination of the two.

There are plenty of free or low-cost tools that can be used with professional results, and if you decide to also record your courses in-house you can setup a studio with less than 1.500€.

7. Be prepared for objections

You should be prepared to face some objections, the most common of which is cost. That’s why having a bulletproof ROI calculation and additional improvements to core business metrics is so important.

It is also helpful to clarify other common misconceptions, for example, about video training and show that there are a lot of free or low-cost tools that can be used with professional results.

Also, consider asking for help from the team of the training platform you choose. They are used to handling these situations and should be able to help you.

8. Find advocates

Get key stakeholders to join your cause and give you an early sign-off. Fighting for a partners academy will be easier if you can count on the help of other key stakeholders, such as: Marketing that usually has privileged access to content creation and production, and Sales that will very likely share the need for some of the same training content, and other key departments that have some weight on your company’s decision making (especially when it comes to budgeting).

At bugle, we have plenty of experience with this type of processes and we are happy to share templates, content, tools and demos and help you build a solid case for your Partners Academy. Remember we are only a few clicks away and would love to help!

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Here is some additional knowledge you can dive into:

6 steps to set up Partners training (guide)
Building a great Partners Training Programme (article)
Key Success Factors for channel sales partners training (guide)
How to increase partners' engagement with your training (article)
How to prove online training impact (guide)
How educational content helps your business grow (article)
12 tips to choose the right training platform (article)


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Tags: online training, partners academy, partners training, partners, partners success, team management


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