Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

How to Identify Partners Who Are Reaching the End of Their Lifecycle

It can be hard to say good-bye, but in the same way products have a lifecycle, partner-vendor relationships do, too. Ending the relationship gracefully—without burning bridges or losing customers—can be a challenge.

In some cases, even knowing whether or not to break up with your partner is unclear. How do you identify those partners that are winding down?

Obviously, you want to make a well-informed decision, one that best supports your sales channel’s goals and strategy. Establishing specific, measurable goals that support your larger business strategy makes it easier to determine where and whom to recruit in the first place. Partner performance against those goals also helps determine which are worth the continued investment.

The value of the partner perspective

Partners don’t want to sell things they know their customers don’t want or need. When vendors change their products, it’s a good idea to ask partners, “Do you have a customer base that can benefit from this change?”

Vendors can learn a great deal from these conversations—and not just in terms of whether the relationship should continue.

Communicate early and often

As a vendor, you also want to be in constant communication with partners, keeping them abreast of what you’re doing and where you’re going. Thorough business plans that are shared as appropriate help communicate structure and focus for the coming year.

Setting and revisiting goals in sales, marketing and training on a quarterly basis also helps communicate effectively what’s expected of partners. Document these communications and disseminate in a timely fashion.

When those lines of communication are open and flowing, it will become clearer to partners and vendors when the relationship is reaching a natural end.

Investing wisely in the right relationships—and retiring the others gracefully

The decision to retrain some partners and/or recruit new ones is going to be different with every change. Remembering that partners really are partners, vendors can benefit from their customer and market insights.

And when communications are open and efficient, everyone is on the same page and partners can see for themselves that they have better opportunities elsewhere.