Learn how to vet, engage and grow partnerships with Lisa Box, Vice President of Business Development at WP Engine, in the latest episode of The Allbound Podcast.
How do you vet potential partners? What traits are you looking for?
The number one trait to look out for is values – specifically whether a potential partner’s corporate core values align with your company’s. Are your visions the same? What are your shared objectives? When partners aren’t about the win-win strategies, they are ultimately setting themselves up for failure. If their values and cultures align with yours, it’s a solid indicator of future success.
Have you ever experienced disconnect between partners in your organization?
Absolutely. It’s not because of ill will or not a good partnership, it’s that certain values don’t align. I’ve learned to look for good identifiers.
What is their leadership team like?
Who are other partners in their partnership cycle?
What impact do they make in their industry?
Also, check to see how they handle their employees and employee culture.
Have you been in a position that you’ve had to turn a partner away?
I’ve had to let existing partners go or had to postpone partnerships just because it was not the right time. Maybe the opportunities we originally thought may exist just did not exist at that point. Never be afraid of saying, “I don’t know if this is going to work.” Or “This is awesome so let’s keep going forward!”
How do you make sure your business development strategy rings through the entire organization?
One initiative that’s been very effective is looking at our core values, mapping out how the partnership will work and whether it supports each of our core values. This check-in tells us if a partnership is a good fit, if the timing is right time and whether this will help us achieve our overall vision.
What are some strategies you’ve implored to successfully onboard a new partner?
There is no partner program more important than your own. What we’ve done is approach onboarding in phased, digestible pieces. When you try to do too much all at once it can become a burden to a partner. Phasing onboarding into a step-by-step process is usually where we see the best benefit in getting partners onboarded.
What do you think keeps your partners engaged? How can you ensure a quality partnership between your organization and theirs?
Two things–one is the relevancy of the product you are providing and the second is the communication of that value. Make sure people understand what you are doing for them, how you are helping them with their clients and overall business impact. Then keep them up-to-date on business trends that can also help their company. It takes time but showing your value in their daily lives is how you become invaluable to your partners.
What kind of changes have you seen in the last decade of sales?
It blows my mind how many changes in inbound and inside sales have occurred - it has been extremely confusing but also full of huge opportunities. I think one of the ways to really disrupt is with an effective channel strategy. Sales acceleration tools are so helpful, especially the distribution of knowledge that social and video bring to educate consumers so they are ready to go as sales engage.