I need to ask you a really important question. Are you collaborating with your partners? Allow me to clarify. When I say “collaborating,” here’s what I don’t mean:
Emailing back and forth on revenue goals every month
Participating in triage-type calls when customers are unhappy or when technology is hiccupping
Dinner with the execs once a year, strategically scheduled prior to contract renewal
I’m asking you about real-time collaboration where you and your partners — and their sales reps — are in total lock-step with each other. Where you have your finger on the pulse of their business and they on yours. Where you and your partners are so, well, partnered, united, connected, that their sales teams feel like natural extensions of your own.
If your answer is yes, then you’re awesome. I want to hear all about it. In fact, I’ll help you tell your story. I’m literally offering free marketing – all you have to do is comment here on the blog, hit me up on Twitter, or send me an email. If your answer is no, never fear. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?
Whether you feel this way or not, your partners ARE a natural extension of your sales force. Look at open source software powerhouse RedHat. Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat CEO and president, just shared the company’s plans to reach $5 billion in annual revenue in five years — a 15% year-over-year increase from today’s $2.05 billion. And, the lion’s share of that revenue is going to come from, you guessed it, their partners.
Imagine if a CEO only interacted with sales leadership to discuss that month’s revenue. Imagine if sales managers only connected with individual contributors when a customer was unhappy or when their proposal building software was on the fritz. Imagine if an account manager only paid attention to a customer when that customer’s contract was about to expire.
There’s a common theme with all of these interactions: management and control that’s driven by greed, fear and apathy. It’s certainly no way to build a strong company, so why do so many organizations continue to take this selfish, lackluster approach with their partner programs?
Because (you might say) collaboration is hard. Our partners are geographically dispersed. We don’t have enough bandwidth to support proactive partner development. We can’t possibly be in communication with every sales rep that works for every partner of ours.
Collaboration is a mindset. While there are technology solutions that aim to improve collaboration between multiple parties (Allbound being one of them), without an intentional strategy to bridge the gap between your organization and your partners, your latest innovative technology solution is just a piece of software, just an app, just another expense.
We’re passionate about partner collaboration here at Allbound. In fact, it’s the name of our conference — CO:LLABORATE. And honestly, we get that it’s not easy. There’s no silver bullet, no magic wand to transform your partner program overnight. But, there are simple things you can do to increase collaboration with your partners by using some of the resources you already have at your fingertips. Resources like video chat, electronic surveys, social media groups and hashtags, and even conferences you’re already planning to attend.
By adopting a mindset of collaborating with partners, rather than merely marketing and selling to and through them, imagine how you might be able to leverage many of your existing resources. This mindset costs you nothing more, except your intentional focus on truly partnering and collaborating with your partners, instead of seeing them as an income line on your sales report.
Spoiler Alert: When people are part of something — when they have buy-in and realize they play an integral role in a greater purpose — they are more invested. And that investment naturally results in greater loyalty and more revenue for your organization.