Can You Build a Successful Partner Engagement Process?

Can You Build a Successful Partner Engagement Process?

Can You Build a Successful Partner Engagement Process?

We got several notes asking if I have a partner engagement process I use evaluate and engage great potential partners. I use a partner engagement process to help me build successful partnerships and alliances with many of the world’s most innovative organizations. For a partnership to succeed, it must engage both partners equally.

I have been involved in hundreds of great partnership and alliance programs over the years and I’ve tried to use a partner engagement process that is not only easy, but repeatable. I find this partner engagement process gives the alliance the greatest chance of success from the start.

The first step of the partner engagement process is to investigate your potential partners before trying to start a relationship.  I look to see who they currently have as partners, what their reputation is, and how satisfied their end customers are with the treatment they get from this partner. If you’re dealing with emerging technologies, it not a matter if there might be a problem, but when. So strong service recovery is critical to your success.  If early clients do not get extraordinary customer service, I avoid taking the partner on.  You can always circle back when the company’s products or services are more stable. For a successful partnership, both partners must be committed to success for their clients. Today the market is too small not to provide great service.

This means that my potential partners are maximizing the value of their early adopters. It’s a simple call to one of their clients to better understand how good the potential partner is at making their marquee clients feel important. If you are a regional company, you can also identify and call their partners in other markets to see how satisfied they are with their partnership.  It also shows the potential partners that you are serious about succeeding in a partnership with them.

The second step of my partner engagement process is I let my partners educate me and my team to what makes their product or service so important to my clients. This is important since much of the early success is based on educating customers to new ways of doing business. A successful partnership should include an education process for both your team and potential clients.

Strong partners make it easy for you to share their services with a potential client.  For many mid-market organizations, it is critical to have additional resources available to support your business development efforts.   A small group of people on the partner’s team committed to provide education to clients is critical to get early wins in the partnering process.

Educating my sales team to better understand the partner’s new products and services helps me get the support needed within my organization and clients.  I want to be able to trust you when you’re educating my clients.  You should expect me provide you great information on clients so you can build a stronger relationship when selling your products and services to them.

The third step of my partner engagement process is to empower my sales professionals and lead consultants with your industry knowledge. Help my team see why your product is the best choice for clients and potential customers.  I see my role as helping remove the obstacles for all organizations involved with the deal and to feel great about working together.  Help me help you by helping me in advance know what flexibility you have in making the deal a success for all involved. You should count on me providing you the support you need to get early wins with our new partnership.

The final step in a partner engagement process is execution. If we do all the early steps successfully we should be able to get your products and services seen in our best accounts. Successful partnerships work because both partners work. You should expect us to help create a go-to-market plan that helps you identify where this new partnership can get traction. The other three steps focus on building a successful partnership. Once both parties are comfortable, it becomes critical to get out and meet with clients and potential customers.  Most successful partnerships are based not only on shared values, but on the ability to get early wins with clients to help insure that both organizations are committed to growth and success. The earlier we get engagement from our teams, the more likely we get the results we expect from our partnerships.

If you work you work your way through this partner engagement process, you will succeed in building successful partnerships that provide great results and profitability for both partners and clients. It may take slightly longer to engage partners through this process. Using this four step partner engagement process has allowed me to build world class partnerships with an incredible group of partners over the years.  I’d love to hear what you have seen work in your partnership engagement process. So let me know and I’ll see you here next week.

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