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The Business Case for Certifying Your Channel

October 31 2014 | By John Leh

It’s no longer enough just to provide support to your channel. To achieve competitive separation manufacturers and software providers have taken to training and certifying their sales and distribution channel. What’s the difference between training and certification?  Certification takes training to the next level by providing prescriptive learning paths for different types of users, definitive confirmation of learner’s knowledge level and then measures corresponding impact on the business. 

Why Should You Train and Certify Your Channel?

Is training your channel worth it? You bet. Organizations train and certify channels not only because it provides a significant and measurable return on their investment but because they can use it as a competitive differentiator. Here are the top 10 measurable business metrics that certifying your channel can impact:

  1. Increase sales and revenue from each channel partner or distributor
  2. Create a new revenue stream from sale of content        
  3. Decrease time to market with new products
  4. Decrease time to proficiency of new channel partners
  5. Decrease cost to penetrate into new markets
  6. Increase end customer satisfaction
  7. Increase brand and product awareness with channel
  8. Decrease technical support calls
  9. Decrease traditional training costs
  10. Increase channel’s ability to cross sell and up sell

In every industry best-in-class organizations are achieving the above results. They view training and certification as a strategic vehicle to corporate growth and profitability. Is your company among this group? Proving the worth of channel certification to executives is easy when you are using the above metrics that they already care about. 

If you want to read further about real-life manufacturers and their channel partners achieving the above, you can read these great case studies on Chance, Wright Tools, Broan NuTone, Affiliated Distributors and Coleman Cable.

 

How Do You Measure the Impact of Channel Training?

Unlike internal employee training, it is easy to measure the business impact of channel training especially if you have a learning management system (LMS). An LMS will allow you to report on channel partners and what content they have consumed and certifications they have earned. Comparing trained vs. untrained channel partners’ performance in sales, number of support calls or any of the above metrics will show you the measurable impact of your training efforts. It can be huge.

For many organizations the channel certification programs are treated as mission-critical. Each piece of content developed and deployed on a LMS is designed to drive certain channel partner behavior. At the time of content design the measurable success criteria of the content is defined and used as a baseline to measure actual change in behavior. 

With each new training initiative you can predict the results, measure the reality and revise as necessary to achieve ever increasing ROI standards. If you know the impact of training on a partner basis then getting more of your channel partners to participate increases the return of your efforts. It also becomes a tool to attract new partners and facilitate global growth. 

 

What Do You Need to Get Started?

You don’t need to buy and implement a complicated and expensive system to train and certify your channel. Channel certification is a process and not an event. You can start small, prove your results and grow from there. You really only need three things to get started:

  • Learning Management System (LMS) to house and manage all your content, partners and their employees and the relationship between the three.
  • Product and Sales Content of any medium including instructor led, virtual classroom, eLearning, video, audio, infographics, how-to guides, documents, games and more. Some of the content you develop for your sales team can be repurposed, sometimes without revision, for your external channels.
  • Measurable Success Criteria to prove the business impact of training, certifying or doing nothing at all.

 

Conclusion

Certifying your channel is a competitive advantage. It can be as simple as a piece of content and a test or you could have programs that have multiple levels and take months or years to complete. Regardless, having the proof that users consumed content and passed a test is the baseline you need to prove that the content improved the business in some way. More importantly, it allows you to provide your channel with tools to make them more successful and isn’t that why they are in your channel in the first place?  

Stay tuned for our next post in this series where we highlight the Top 10 Features you need in a channel LMS.

 

What to Learn More About Channel Certification?  Free Webinar           

Do you want to learn more about launching a channel certification program? Join myself and BlueVolt’s Sales Director Kelley Shirazi on November 19th @ 1pm EST as we present “How to Build a Certified Channel Program” webinar. 

Training your channel requires a different set of considerations than training only your employees. The channel can be fickle and they want a super easy, fast experience packed with value or they won’t come back. If you are a product manufacturer or a software provider, this is an absolute must webinar. This engaging and interactive webinar will outline: 

  • Differences between training and certifying
  • Measuring the impact of channel certification
  • Elements needed to support channel certification
  • Channel certification case studies
  • Recommended next steps and resources

Register now for How to Build a Channel Certification Program

 

About the Author           

 John Leh, CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning, LLC, is an LMS selection consultant and training industry blogger focused on helping organizations plan and implement technology strategies that support extended enterprise learning. He has 18 years of experience in the eLearning and LMS industry having served as a trusted advisor to more than 100 learning organizations with a total technology spend of $50 million. John helps organizations define their learning technology business case and requirements, manage the RFP process and select technology partners.