You make or break your partner program at step one: partner selection.
After all, selecting the right partners for your partner program is crucial. If you partner with the wrong people, you’re opening yourself up to a world of heartache. Wasted time, effort, and resources – all of which could have been spent on a partner that returned your energy.
Partnerships have a huge parallel with real-world relationships.
Your partner program invitation is a proposal. It’s saying, “let’s tie ourselves together for an indefinite amount of time.” And you don’t walk down the aisle with just anyone (unless you’re in Vegas.)
Don’t approach your partnerships like you’re in Sin City. Think long and hard about the traits you want your partner(s) to have. Let’s explore how you narrow down what’s important when selecting a partner for your program.
Identifying your partner
How to attract your ideal partners
Once you know what you’re aiming for, you can start making it happen.
You need to translate what you’re trying to achieve into who can help you achieve it. Approach this in the same way you would map out your ideal customer profile, but instead make it about partners. This will help you to focus on what traits a business needs to be a valuable partner.
So, how do you turn daydreams into reality?
The best tip is simple: be realistic. Everyone wants to partner with the big boys: the likes of Deloitte and PWC. But you need to be realistic about those companies that are the right fit for you. You’re also likely to see more value from smaller, targeted businesses with the time, energy, and motivation to invest as much into the partnership as you are.
Here are some tips about how to identify businesses that are open to partnering:
1. Explore their website
Do they have partners listed already? This is a good indication of both the types of businesses they like to partner with, as well as the scale of their partner programs. It can also be a good source of inspiration for anyone you could work with.
2. Competitor marketplaces
If your competitors have a marketplace where you can view the partners they currently have, then this can also be a good place to identify those who are open to partnering.
Sometimes, you can tell by a company’s vibe that you want to partner with them. You’ve got no mutual friends to intro you, but who cares? Fire across a well-thought-out email and see if you can convince them!
Closing the deal
The final hurdle when it comes to partner selection is closing the deal. Make sure you follow a similar approach to your sales team and stick to best practices.
Prepare yourself by taking the time to understand their business, and reiterate how the partnership will help them. Why not tell them a story about another successful partnership you’ve had? This will inspire confidence and provide a tangible example of what you hope to achieve together.
Your new partner needs to leave feeling clear on what they can expect, understand how they can access any support they may need, as well as empowered to start registering deals.
Also, remember that it’s not too late to change your mind. You’ve not tied the knot yet, so if they’re giving you some red flags and you’re not convinced they’re the right fit, back out now. It’s easier to cut ties now than later down the line.
Once you’ve selected your partners and got them on board, you can switch focus to making sure you’re providing an unforgettable partner experience. Ready to make that happen? Check out our guide on partner experience here!
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