Channel Conduit of the Week: Member “Initiation” events … they build immediate Loyalty.

 Just about every channel leader I talk to these days has partner recruitment as a top priority. But how do you initiate these partners once you have effectively recruited them?  Most companies have developed their own “onboarding” processes for new partners. More often than not, I’ve found that these processes are checklists and not really timelines that have checkpoints mapped out over, say, a 24-month period.  In a later blog, I will cover how to develop a partner “onboarding” timeline; but for now, I want to share with you an idea that has proven to be a great way to create immediate partner loyalty. This is the idea of an initiation.

Since the beginning of time, initiations have been an effective way to welcome new members into the fold while building immediate solidarity. Perhaps you’ve been a part of one over the years, whether it was being “welcomed” to a high school sports team by the team’s seniority, or a new sorority or fraternity, or a community or social club, etc. Chances are you still remember those initiations vividly, right? No matter how long ago or how removed you are from those organizations, don’t you still feel a sense of inclusion and loyalty to the group?
So, maybe that means something. Maybe there are ways to make sure your new channel partners understand that they are not just participating in an exciting new business, but more importantly that they are about to be welcomed into an exclusive, “members-only” club. You want your partners to feel like everyone wants to be in this club, but only a lucky few get invited. And instead of rituals or juvenile hazing, maybe you offer them a membership card that has their log-in information to their partner portal and rewards program; or a communication that welcomes them into the program and shows their projected path to Platinum Status. Finally, another terrific opportunity to initiate new partners can be had at your partner conference. At some point you could introduce all of the new partners publicly on stage and brag about your high expectations for this new brand of partner. Among other benefits, this has the potential to light a spark for your more mature partners!

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