This blog is a little more “big picture” and philosophical than our others. Don’t worry—we aren’t going to contemplate our place in the universe! We’re simply looking at the company/partner relationship in a deeper way. And we’re trying to communicate how your business success and your partner’s success are like the “chicken or egg” conundrum. However, you are not figuring out “which one comes first”, but instead understanding it’s not a competition, and you need each other to survive.
Managing your partner relationship properly greatly improves the odds your business will flourish. You expand your reach with partners. They’ll allow you to find long-term clients that provide you with the bulk of your year-over-year revenue.
Don’t Ignore the Signs
While organizations make strategic errors, many times it’s about failed partner relationships as a way to build sales momentum. If you don’t build strong partner sales networks, you can never increase the reach and overall branding of the products.
Strong partner sales enable your company to hopefully avoid being a “flash in the pan” or fizzling out over time. With successful channel sales your firm can greatly expand its geographic reach and brand recognition. Success with partners can mean the difference between “middle of the pack” or becoming the true market segment leader. Assess your current channel partner program carefully to ensure you aren’t ignoring troubling signs. Ask some hard questions. Are your partners with you for the long haul?Do you setup your channel program for maximum benefit for you and the partners?Or are you restricting growth due to your lack of commitment to your partner's success? Identify, assess, and then fix your channel partner programs before your company’s window of opportunity closes.
Set the Expectations
The road to channel partner success requires initial setting of expectations. This means creating mutual and measurable goals.Understood you both have vested interests in the partnership. Consider Channel maturity, Channel positioning (Tier 1, 2, 3 partners and manufacturers) and Partner/Vendor readiness and be transparent about these interests, and then recognize reaching them is intertwined among both organizations.
As your expectations align, consider how you will define the success of the partnership. And then you look at the actions both sides must take. Avoid partnerships that are rocky from Day 1 and are destined to fade away into the night. Craft formal plans with clear objectives, market strategies, and earmarked resources.
Communicate the Right Way
As we dive into 2020, it’s a good time for revaluation. Let’s not dive into your weight-loss or nutrition resolutions, but instead focus on communication. Ask any happily married person for the secret to their success and mainly will say “open communication.” Treat each other the right way by communicating what you need and when you’re disappointed. Channel partnerships require a similar openness of communication. Here’s some tips on dialing in your communication style:
· Effective communication is timely and supportive. This doesn’t mean you overload your partners with endless messages, but instead carefully develop time-appropriate messages. Launching a new product? Offering a very attractive incentive? Communicate these to partners immediately.
· Active listening and creating opportunities for feedback.
· Avoid non-personalized communications that are simply shot out to every partner rep. People don’t like to read too much if they are not seeing immediate relevancy to their own interests. A sound partner relationship includes respecting your rep’s time and providing them with relevant role-based communication.
· It is also key to not just listen to the loudest voices in the room but the full channel as it all adds up and support our long tail /no rep left behind position.
· Encourage new partners to engage with your engineers, designers, and internal sales team. Get some dialogue going about ways you can all help each other. Each sides’ success will come in concert with the other.
· Review your customer-facing communications. You and your partners can have a great relationship, attractive incentive plans, and great collateral, but it’s all worthless if you aren’t customer-centric. Ensure you and your partners agree on customer service philosophies and tactics.
To ensure a proactive and empowered channel that delivers results, you need to ensure they are trained, incentivized and rewarded with timely programs built in a strategic engagement ecosystem. When you choose ChannelAssist’s platform, you’re making “huevos y pollo” together and providing your partners and internal team with a trusted and proven tool for mutual long-term success.