With long-time late-night fixture David Letterman recently hanging up his microphone, it’s fitting that we find a small way to honor him with a Top 10 list of our own.
Despite our best effort we couldn’t find a president or famous actor to read ours on camera. With our start-up budget, we’re limited to either the Jimmy John’s delivery person or Siri (the iPhone 4s version). Neither would have brought credibility to our very important partner relationship management effort, which we take very seriously at Allbound.
So without further ado, here are your top 10 must haves for partner relationship management:
#10 – Commitment
You need to have top-down, company wide commitment. Do you remember why your company decided to start a partner network to begin with? Likely it was scalable growth. If you expect big growth from sales and marketing partners, you better make a similar-sized commitment to their success at all levels of your organization.
#9 – Customer clarity
Provide adequate guidance on selling to the right customer. Like you, your partners are busy. They juggle multiple product solutions and have multiple buyers to address. Resourcing them to know what to sell, when to sell and to whom, will be critically important to the success of both of your organizations.
#8 – Engagement
Have mechanisms in place to counter the natural tendency toward partner disengagement. The sooner you realize this tendency the sooner you realize the onus is on YOU to help your partners be engaged and effective.
#7 – Loyalty
A partners initial desire and expectation is to be wildly successful selling your product solutions. You can’t even say that about most of your direct reps. Your partnership can have a big impact on your partners’ businesses so they rightfully have high expectations. Partners come to you engaged and enthusiastic. Give them reasons to stay that way.
#6 – Balance of measurement and management
Relentlessly measure and manage your partner ecosystem. There is an obvious correlation here. Neither is effective without the other. Channel teams need to be resourced to efficiently do both.
#5 – Scalable relationships
You can’t build partner loyalty through personal relationships. To grow at scale, you need to create partnerships at scale, which in-turn requires creating value at scale. You can’t forgo the personal side, but you can’t accomplish what you set out to if ‘personal relationships’ are the only tool in your partner toolset.
#4 – Product
Product is still a big priority. Make sure your products live up to the story you train your partners to tell.
#3 – Obsessive improvement
Successful partner relationship management requires perpetual forward progress. Never stop improving.
#2 – Depth
Deeply understand why partners are successful, or not. If you don’t have visibility into your partner channel, find a way to get it quickly. Unless you can properly understand the reasons behind the health of your partner ecosystem (good or bad) how can you fix it or make it better?
#1 – Innovation
Be innovative and adopt innovation. To yield the most out of your partner relationships, you can’t let their enthusiasm wane. Give them exciting things to talk about and exciting ideas and technologies to work with.
Ok, so there is one more thing that is needed for partner relationship management, and its the most important – the partners themselves. While that may be obvious, the reality is that unless you have the 10 must haves outlined above, you probably won’t have partners either.