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Partner Experience and Journey Mapping

Partner Experience and Journey Mapping

According to Salesforce, 80% of customers now consider their customer experience with a company to be as important as its products.

The customer journey used to be simple. You offered a product and the customer bought it. Nowadays there are multiple touch points, using multiple communication channels, leading the customer from awareness, through consideration to decision making.

In “Five Ways the Future of B2B Buying Will Rewrite the Rules of Effective Selling” Gartner identify four key steps in the customer journey: problem identification, solution exploration, requirements building, and supplier selection. They also illustrate how each individual customer journey is a complex path, back and forward, through what Gartner has described as the ‘spaghetti bowl’ of contact options.

A Customer Journey Map is a visual representation of the buyer journey. More and more marketers are using Customer Journey Maps to optimize customer experience and to increase sales. A typical Customer Journey Map will feature:

  • A complete list of all the possible customer touchpoints – sales, customer support, website, social channels - with a ‘journey’ plotted through these for a particular customer.
  • A precise definition of the customer being mapped. Is the customer a knowledgeable buyer, or a first-time contact? Is the customer used to social channels, or do they prefer phone?
  • An evaluation of the customer experience at each stage in the journey. What’s likely to work well and not so well, and why?

Smart companies use Customer Journey Maps to focus marketing activities on the right customers at the right stage in the journey. This maximises mindshare and increases the likelihood of turning the buyer into a customer. There are templates available to help you get started, for instance from Qualtrix and Hubspot.

Partner Journey Mapping

Experience matters a lot to channel partners too. Channel partners are also customers. And remember that 80% of customers now consider their customer experience with a company to be as important as its products.

At bChannels we refer to how vendors think of channel partners as customers as their ‘to-partner’ relationship. In to-partner, we talk a lot about mindshare. How to find partners where there is mutual interest to invest, then how to create mindshare to drive sales. Partner experience is one part of the mindshare equation.

Customer Journey Mapping, pivoted towards partners, is a great way to understand how your marketing engagement with partners is creating, or inhibiting, mindshare. Let’s call it Partner Journey Mapping. How might this look?

An effective Partner Journey Map must:

  • Take account of all the possible partner touchpoints: the partner program and portal, pre- and post-sales support, order management and finance.
  • Track the experience of each type of partner stakeholder: the Sales Lead, the Technical Lead, the Marketing Lead.
  • Evaluate partner experience at each stage in the journey, what’s working and not working.

The Aggregate Partner Experience

Vendors often talk about ‘partner experience’ as a general term. But in fact partner experience is the aggregate of the experiences of the various stakeholders around the partner’s business. Does the vendor work well with marketing to run lead generation campaigns? Is it easy for sales to work with the vendor to price and close customer deals? How responsive is the vendor when technical support is required?

For each partner stakeholder – sales, marketing, technical – there is a partner journey, and the aggregate experience across all these journeys is what defines the overall partner experience.

Poor partner experience can be a barrier to building partner mindshare. Excellent partner experience establishes trust, increases commitment and leads to growth.

A good starting point to all this is to put effort into identifying which partners are worth investing the time and effort first. Poor experience can result as much from misalignment even before a first conversation takes place as from difficulties further down the line. Understanding partners’ technology and brand focus using products like our own Growth CapabilityTM can offer insights into whether partners and vendors are mutually aligned.

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