The ultimate guide to channel and partner training for 2024

Ly Nguyen

29/4/2024 How-to Channel management

Your company has invested in great products. Perhaps you excel in a particular niche, or you’re dominant across a whole category, or maybe you compete on value, having made smart trade-offs. 

But whatever your strengths are, they’re all for nothing if the people selling your products don’t know them well, and can't articulate what’s so good about them to your customers. 

The fix? Educating your channel partners about your products, and giving them the tools and confidence they need to get sales of your products.

Investing in this sort of training programme has multiple benefits. By improving your channel partners’ product knowledge and customer service skills, you're empowering those staff to become experts in your brand. You’re also transforming the relationship dynamic, moving from mere supplier to valuable ally, and a source of professional development for the store's employees. 

It’s about moving from a transactional relationship to an arguably more powerful knowledge-based relationship.

So where to begin? 

Dealer portals

To effectively train your channel partners, you’ll need to provide a partner web portal for them to log in and get all your training in one place.

A portal provides many benefits, letting you facilitate, monitor and measure training initiatives, provide incentives, communicate important information about your products, and connect with your dealer network. 

Find out more about how to build a parter portal here

How to use incentives

In the world of channel and partner training, incentives are the fuel that drives partner engagement. They motivate channel partners to dedicate time and effort to understanding your products and services as well as encouraging participation, knowledge retention and sales staff that are well-equipped to represent your brand on the shop floor.

A common practice in channel and partner training is to link training completion with sales incentives. For example, partners may need to complete specific training modules on a certain category of products before becoming eligible for Sales Performance Incentive Funds (SPIFs). This creates a direct connection between knowledge acquisition and financial rewards, and encourages partners to invest time in staff training.

To qualify for an incentive programme, partners should need to complete training modules that cover essential product information, sales techniques, and brand messaging. By structuring training in this way, you ensure that partners have a comprehensive understanding of the products they are selling - making them more likely to recommend those products to customers and making them more effective when they do.

You probably don't need to provide incentives for every single training module. Instead, just focus on key lessons that most align with your strategic objectives - usually in-depth product training, brand knowledge, and customer relationship management.

It’s a good idea to make your partner training program a mix of branded and generic modules: branded modules will focus specifically on your company's products, features, and benefits and are essential for partners to become experts in your brand, while generic modules cover broader industry topics or skills that are applicable across different brands. This latter approach is usually popular among managers, who recognise the benefits of the broader category training that you’re providing.

While both forms of training are valuable, it’s generally a good idea to only incentivise staff for completing modules specific to your brand. This approach encourages partners to prioritise training around your products and services, ensuring that product knowledge on the shop floor drives sales for you.

Find out more about the power of incentives in the ultimate guide to dealer incentives. 

What type of training content should I include?

Here's a quick how-to video showing how to create partner training content in Kademi

Video Content

Video training is relatively easy to produce, and an excellent, engaging way to get your message across.

It does have its downsides, however - video is difficult to search for specific answers in the moment, so is best used as part of a wider training programme. 

Text Content

Text-based training complements video well. It’s a great medium for communicating key points, it’s easily searchable, and makes for useful reference material in the future. 

Image Content

Image-based content is a great way to drive the message home. Use infographics and illustrations to emphasise key points in a memorable, visual way. AI technology now makes it easier than ever to produce great training images, even if you don’t have access to a designer.

Live Sessions

Consider including live sessions as part of the course. This is a more laborious avenue than the above methods, however, skillfully executed live sessions have the potential to massively increase engagement and are a great way to get your brand message across.

Each approach has its benefits, so your best bet will always be a mix of video, text, images, and live sessions to create a well-rounded and memorable training programme. Using multiple formats helps cater to different learning styles and is the best approach to maximise partner engagement.

How to assess

So how do you gauge how well your partners are absorbing the information you're providing?

Multiple choice assessment is nearly always the best approach. Multiple choice questions provide a time-efficient and convenient method to confirm knowledge and are a surefire way to ensure that your partners and their staff have a good grasp of the ideas you’ve been attempting to communicate.

Staff receive immediate feedback on their competency, and multiple-choice quizzes can easily be tied to training-based incentives.

For particularly complex products, like software platforms for example, instructor-led assessments can be a better approach. Instructors can provide nuanced evaluations and address specific questions or concerns partners may have. They also provide an opportunity to meaningfully connect with partners, using communication tools to facilitate interactive discussions and demonstrations, ensuring partners are well-versed in the product's intricacies.

The importance of including generic/un-branded modules

Including generic modules in your training programme is crucial for several reasons.

Modules which focus on broader industry knowledge (rather than just your products) help establish your domain authority and build trust within your dealer network.

By offering training that helps dealers educate their staff, you’re making their staff more effective salespeople (essential in industries with high staff churn rates) and improving overall customer service. It follows that dealer principals will be more likely to endorse and encourage staff to participate in your training programme when it directly supports their wider business operations.

In some cases, there will be industry bodies with accredited training programmes. If you can align your modules with their standards and gain accreditation this will significantly add credibility and prestige to your programme and demonstrate credibility within the wider industry. This can often be far more valuable to your partners than incentives, and a lower cost to your organisation, so is a great strategy where possible.


Users will often start, but not complete, modules. The solution is well-placed ‘nudges’.

These nudges should highlight the benefits users will gain from completing the modules, whether it's the incentives they'll receive or the valuable knowledge they'll acquire.

Nudges can be implemented at both module level and broader course level. For instance, sending reminders per module completion or recognising when a user reaches the halfway mark of the entire course - and encouraging them to keep going - are both effective strategies to maintain engagement and drive completion.

Make resources available

Make sure all your technical manuals and relevant documents are easily accessible within your portal and ensure there are clear links between these documents and the training content you're providing.

This ‘bidirectional linking’ allows users to seamlessly transition between learning materials and supplementary resources, enhancing their understanding of the material and helping them translate that training into the real world.

Getting answers fast with AI

What’s the best way to provide trainees with quick, effective access to crucial information?

Chatbots! communication tools

Implementing a chatbot within your portal is not as difficult as it might seem and is an easy, engaging way to integrate resources such as technical specifications, manuals, and training content into your program. Additionally, leveraging content management tools can streamline the organization and accessibility of these resources.

Your chatbot should be capable of providing immediate answers to your channel partners' inquiries and should offer links to relevant resources for further information, letting partners and their staff swiftly find the information they need to support their sales efforts.

Final thoughts

Remember, the success of your products in the market often hinges on how well your partners understand and advocate for them.

By investing in training, you're not just providing information; you're building expertise, trust, and brand loyalty where it matters most - on the shop floor.


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