A Unique Way to Create Value and Success with Partner Enablement

By Ali Condah

Sales enablement is a vital part of any sales organization, but partner enablement is an emerging trend with many technology organizations.

At my former organization, Gemalto, I was brought in to help the organization build a channel enablement program. I worked in the enterprise and cybersecurity division, which had recently gone through a merger with a rival organization. Gemalto had moved the division from a direct B2B model to a third-party resellers model in which partners (ranging from technology integration partners like Dell, to IT partners like CDW, to IT resellers like Persido) would resell Gemalto products and services. At the time, Gemalto had thousands of partners – and limited opportunities to train partners.

Through my previous sales enablement experience, I have learned that identifying the customer journey and buyer personas is key to an effective sales enablement strategy. While the customer should be at the center of any strategy, building relationships with the stakeholders within the organization – and understanding how sellers (direct or partners) make money – is key to success in sales enablement.

In my role as the channel enablement sales training program manager, I needed to gain internal mind share with sales, marketing, and product teams. As part of my development process, I conducted interviews with all the stakeholders within the enterprise and cybersecurity division.

My first step was to meet with the sales leaders – to understand the objectives of the new business model and the objectives of my role. After these meetings, I worked directly with the partner sales team, uncovering their goals, and conducting ride-alongs in the field to understand the partners. With each interview, my goal was to understand how each team impacted the customer journey, and understand the business objectives of each team. I identified areas in which I could help stakeholders overcome challenges, and gain mind share with the partner team. We then conducted a content and training audit that identified the gaps where content was not customized for the target audience.

When I spoke with product leaders, I would identify their goals. When I met with the marketing team, I would learn about their outreach efforts. As a member of the sales team, I worked with sellers across the globe to understand their goals and challenges – learning about our internal processes and gaining mind share with each team. This process allowed me to create an impact map whose goal was to align departmental business goals with training goals. By mapping each team’s goals to the broader channel enablement goals, each leader had a vested interested in ensuring the training was successful. The knowledge and day-to-day activities would be mapped to each business objective, with training and resources aligned to ensure partners have the knowledge and tools they need to articulate the Gemalto value proposition.

From this impact map, I was able to build a project plan, in which we developed content (sales tools, eLearning, and instructor-led training). We utilized partner relationship management tools to house content and create a certification process in which partners could complete training and obtain their certification. We recorded a monthly webinar series and used GoToTraining to measure knowledge retention after live sessions. As an added value, each week we offered strategic partners custom training and coaching if they were willing to invest time with Gemalto.

When selling through partners, mind share is just as important as training. For this reason, we launched “road shows” in which we would go to our partners and offer training – rather than requiring the partners to travel to us. This approach led to Gemalto certifying hundreds of partner sales reps over an eight-month period, while providing them with the knowledge, tools, and resources they needed to provide revenue to their organizations and value to their customers.

Ali Condah is a sales enablement advisor with a background in coaching and global development of demand generation, inside, government, and enterprise sellers. He also designs role-based enablement programs at Amazon Web Services.