It is undeniable that technology has changed the way that humans interact with each other. Technology has infiltrated every aspect of life; personal, corporate, romantic, even how we act as consumers. The technology we currently have at hand, above all, facilitates convenience. Via mobile devices, I can now get my groceries delivered, lock my house, message my coworkers that I am going to be late because I forgot to lock my house, and find a date for Friday night in about 15 minutes if I am so inclined.
As a self-proclaimed millennial, I immediately jump on one of many dating apps as soon I’m single. However, like any person (btw I’m in Sales) I want to spend the least amount of effort and time for the best results. Which is why I took it upon myself to do some research on the current dating scene, exactly like I would for any new endeavor and came across Aziz Ansari’s "Modern Romance: An Investigation," which explores current dating methods, habits and best practices for navigating the current technology-driven romantic environment. What intrigued me most about Ansari’s research is that technology hasn’t just changed and defined new rules for how people interact with each other romantically, but has altered the way that all relationships function.
"Technology hasn't just changed and defined new rules for how people interact with each other romantically, but has altered the way that all relationships function."
In the tech industry, we are all aware of the shift in the relationship between company and consumer. We have moved to a customer-centric model, where personalization and understanding of the individual as well as their organization are all taken into account in every part of the sales cycle to provide effective and customized service. We have all realized that consumers crave convenience, so we dedicate a vast amount of resources to providing this, from custom pitches and campaigns (ABM) to the formation of customer success teams that ensure your services and products are currently up to consumer standards. The most natural extension of these efforts is further aligning them with your channel partners. Not only do partners bring in leads, but they push sales cycles and provide extra customer service to your customers.
"Partners ... push sales cycles and provide extra customer service to your customers."
You may already have a partner program, or may just be getting ready to dip your foot in the “partner scene,” but in either case you want to make sure that you are getting the best results from your efforts and resources. Look no further than this compilation of the best practices, methods and personal experiences from the top thought leaders in partner channel management.
Over the next six weeks, I bring you a how-to guide of sorts, an homage to Ansari’s Modern Romance, to help navigate your partner relationships whether you are just starting out and looking for that right partner, looking to improve on your current “relationships,” or are even looking to end them and start all over.
Do you know what kind of partner you want? Are you ready to launch a partner program?
We all know the methods for searching for potential partners; online research, referrals or even making that first move towards an introduction. We continuously focus on the search. What needs to be done to get a partner and how should we do it? We see this in direct sales as well, what is required to interest a customer and buy our product? This is a good start, but what do you do with said customer or partner once you’ve generated some interest on their end? Is it even a good fit for you?
To have a successful and lasting partner relationship, some self-reflection, in the beginning, is necessary. Are you in the right place to launch a partner program? Do you have clear expectations for your partners? Do you have a system in place to support partners with ample training, cadence calls, and an alignment plan? SLA? Ideal Partner Profile?
You need to ask yourself these questions and figure out how best a partner program might fit into your current sales organization or if you need to go back to the drawing board. From our own personal experiences, and our knowledge of the consumer, we can assume that partnera would like the same ease and accessibility working with you as they can order their groceries online.
"... partners would like the same ease and accessibility working with you as they can order their groceries online."
If you are unprepared for a partner program and therefore are hard to work with, you partners will leave you or try the professionally acceptable equivalent of “ghost” you. This could range from ignoring your emails and calls to even responding to leads in an untimely manner, these are all symptoms of unhappy partner relationship and could indicate that your partner is not a good fit or there is a bottleneck in your process. If you find that there is a problem in your process, this may not be due to the partner. It could be because there is not enough training, support, or even a lack of incentive for your partner. Understanding your partners’ needs and providing them to get the results that you want, is just as important as finding the right partner.
As Naylor Gray highlighted at his presentation at our CO:LLABORATE 2016 conference, partners are people too, and therefore need “people friendly” processes, clear expectations, and a clear and frequent system of communication to have a successful partnership.
Once you have a partner program architected, you need to find the correct partners for your business. Jake Dunlap, CEO of Skaled, and Vaughn Aust, Executive VP of Digital Solutions at MarketStar, also shared their tips for targeting and qualifying partners at CO:LLABORATE.
We are all familiar with the concept of an Ideal Customer Profile — it’s how we target new accounts and prospects. If you are targeting partners, take the same approach but use criteria that can help you determine an Ideal Partner Profile or an IPP. These criteria may vary from organization to organization, but you can always qualify partners using a three-prong approach by analyzing twelve months of partners’ historical sales data (by month), partner potential, and relationship data to either stack rank current partners or find suitable partners to launch a partner program. From this information, you will be able to identify trends and reasonable KPI’s, understand a partner's strengths and weaknesses in certain markets (and therefore correctly match your products and services), determine a partner’s potential growth, and lastly maximize your ROI on your partner by giving them the correct resources.
You will find that not all partners are created equal, but that’s the nature of the beast. Each of your partners should bring something to the table, whether it is a stellar team or a knowledge of a particular industry. Customize a track, resources and expectations for each partner to maximize your results and the subsequent ROI on each of your partners, and with luck form lasting and mutually beneficial partner relationships.