Problem: How to Create a Successful Partnership Program for your Business
As our world enters the 2020s, we will experience massive changes in how we do business. Maintaining a solid and stable channel for sales requires a strong partnership program and strategic alliances.
Build your Partnerships Program with These 4 Steps
The first step to starting a new program is to understand why you are undertaking it. In order to successfully interact with and collaborate with these new channels, ask yourself, do you have the appropriate tools in place to increase your sales? At the end of the day, a partnership program is bringing in value for both parties engaging in the partnership.
Step #1: Assess Yourself: Are You Ready to be Parter-Centric?
The first step for any company before jumping in and deciding to create a partnership program is to make sure it will really help your potential and prospective partners succeed. Your partners do business for their own reasons and they won’t care about you unless you lay down how this program will bring its benefits and advantages.
Are you self-centered or partner-centered? If you’re not, then why on God’s earth would they bother to partner with you? Your partners are in business for their reasons, not your reasons. They don’t care about your latest product. They don’t care about your need to feed your investor’s greed. What they care about is how they can be successful. So if you’re not asking what’s in it for our partners and what are we going to do to make sure that they want to sell on our behalf and how are we going to make them wildly successful, then you’ve got no business setting up a part in the program.
Step #2: Understand Your Partners’ Customer Journey
Once you know what your partners’ goals are, understanding how your products or services can contribute to the goals of their customers will help you position yourself as a partner for success. To make sure you’re there for them when they need you, ask yourself these three questions:
- Who are my partners’ customers?
- What are the outcomes they’re trying to achieve?
- Where do you fit in, in making them successful?
Once you know the answer to all of this, it’s time to move on to understand how you and your partner can work together.
So you need to really think hard before you set up your partner program, who is my customer? What are the outcomes they’re trying to achieve? Who is my partner? What are the outcomes they are trying to achieve? What’s the journey each of them goes through and where do I fit in helping them be successful? And my job as a channel partner, or as a channel manager, is to make my partners wildly successful.
Step #3: Are You Compatible and Complementary with Your Prospective Partner?
Like any other relationship, getting to know your partner deeply and intimately is extremely important, even before you jump into anything serious like signing an agreement. It’s important to know if all the right boxes tick if you will work together. Otherwise, disaster will strike even before you start collaborating. Ask your partner these questions to get a feel of how you will work together.
- Will they allow you to add your logo to their store?
- Is there a top salesperson apart from the CEO?
- How do they get business and how do they go to the market?
- What kind of reputation do they have?
- What do their customers think about them?
- Do their salespeople ask good questions?
- Are your cultures compatible and complementary?
- Will they be open to commit and welcome your onboarding process?
If you are setting up a channel partnership, then before you put a ring on their finger, make sure that you’re compatible. So first of all, look in the mirror and make sure your management and your leadership are on your side and support this project.
Step #4: Make Sure You Have Processes in Place to Guide the Partnership
It’s very important to define the parameters on how you’re going together. Knowing who’s taking care of which parts of the partnership will help you measure the success of this partnership. It will ensure you have a productive and truly beneficial relationship. To do that make sure that this happens:
- Create a space for partners’ safety where your teams can ask questions and raise concerns about the program.
- Hire and put the best people in charge from general managers, finance people, and channel managers.
- Set up systems for accountability and be transparent enough to admit when someone dropped the ball.
- Automate when and where you can to streamline the process.
You got to review the plan on a regular basis with your partners and you got to make sure that you hold each other to account. I cannot stress that enough. There needs to be a regular cadence of accountability, there are clear outcomes that you agreed on the last time. There are clear satisfaction factors, on both sides. That each side is committed to achieving that is within your control and their control.
Resources about business and culture, which Marcus recommends:
Making Sales Channel Work: Ten Tools to Create a World-Class Third-Party Selling Program by Marcus Cauchi
Global Sales: A Practical Playbook on How to Drive Profitable Growth for International Sales and Marketing Leader by Zach Selch
Building Successful Partner Channels: Channel Development & Management in the Software Industry by Hans Peter Bech
Going Global on a Shoestring: Global Expansion in the Software Industry on a Small Budget by Hans Peter Bech
Most Important Advice When Embarking on a Partnership Program: First of all, make sure that you are really committed, your executive team is really committed to supporting the channel program because any sniff that you’re not, your partners will flee for the hills. Secondly, make sure that you have a really good selection process and due diligence process to recruit the best partners for the job.
This interview is part of the How We Solve podcast. To hear more from industry experts who are solving everyday business problems, check us out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and on our website.
About the guest
How people can people reach the guest:
Podcast: Marcus Cauchi at Podbean
LinkedIn: Marcus Cauchi