Our Channel Partners Are Our Family

MeetingAs the holidays draw near we often think of our family, gathered around a table enjoying each other’s company, talking about our relationship and thoughts for the future.  In many ways, an organization’s partners are just like our families.  They can be there in good times and bad, and it is only through good communication that we can truly build a plan for the future.  So, as you think about this,  who would be at your table? Do you know all of them by name? Do you both know what your relationship means and how it can improve over the coming year?

Who are your partners?

Each year we evaluate our relationship with our partners. Who are they, where they are, and what we have accomplished this year. As you enter into the New Year, do you have a profile of your partners? How do you evaluate them year over year to make sure you stay on the right course? And of course, where does all of this information reside? If it resides within your PRM, you are on the right track. The PRM provides a standard repository for all information relating to your partners to that the information can be objectively reviewed by the appropriate parties and the correct decisions made.

Not only do you need to understand who your current partners are, you also need to look at where you have gaps in geography, skill sets, or other strategic requirements. The partner profile can help you quickly identify partner targets to make your recruitment efforts that much easier and more successful. By managing the recruitment process within your PRM, you can use the same profiling techniques you use for your signed partners so that you maintain the same criteria across your program.

What is your relationship?

A strong relationship is the key to success in any facet of your life. With our partners, there are many ways to maintain that strong relationship, including communication and inclusion in your programs and plans. From a communication perspective, there are a number of ways to do this such as content on your partner portal, emails or newsletters, webcasts, etc. But by far the most important communication is face-to-face. Having that personal relationship is essential to make sure your partners are onboard with your ideas and a way to discuss any alternatives or questions they may have.

In addition to communication, collaboration is key. If the partner is involved in the development of a plan, they will support it–and what better way to ensure the success of the program! Many vendors will include their partners in the testing of their product and launch programs to make sure the product and the messaging are strong and well received by the market. Your partners are a great way to easily get market information on your solution as they speak to customers and prospects daily. This information can truly help you determine market requirements and product positioning. We often get so wrapped up in our product that we often miss little details that can make or break our launch. Leaning on your partners in this area, cannot only help you make the right decision, but it includes them in the process…giving them a stake in the relationship and overall success of your company.

So, as you reflect on the relationships with your partners, will you say they are strong? Your relationship with your partners is a very valuable part of the overall business strategy. By aligning yourself with the right partners, ones that understand the joint business value, you can reach your goals. But developing that relationship, like any relationship, takes time and commitment. You can’t merely sign a contract and expect a relationship to happen. You must communicate, provide value, and work through challenges.