By Gloria Canales, Channel Marketing Manager, Parascript
Many companies today credit at least part of their success to strong and meaningful partnerships. These strategic alliances can help drive growth and profitability and allow businesses to gain a competitive advantage by accessing a partner’s resources, such as technologies, marketing support, and capital.
“Partnerships,” and what constitutes a good partner relationship, can also be a controversial subject. This was the topic of a lively exchange at the 2014 Service Provider Executive Forum panel at the AIIM Conference in Orlando this April, where participants likened it to an “ongoing relationship” and even “picking a spouse.”
It is true, to the point above, that just like a marriage good partnerships have to be beneficial for both parties. Companies should choose partners that want to engage with them and who can offer resources that can help them identify new markets and grow their customer base. Like Abbott and Costello, Bonnie and Clyde, and even Tom and Jerry — good partnerships boil down to creating and sustaining profitable partnerships that add real value.
Finding the right allies, however, is not always an easy task. How can you make sure you are making the best decisions when it comes to who your organization partners with?
Below are five tips for VARs to determine if a partner could be a good fit for your business:
- Understand your current partner relationships: First, it’s important to analyze your company’s current market status and future growth plans. Take a close look at what options are available for that growth, including key partnerships. Vendors will be looking at how many partners their organization currently has, what value each brings to the table, and, in turn, how you can help them grow with your company and/or better address their needs, and you should as well.
- For future relationships, do your due diligence:
From a technology company, or vendor’s, standpoint, it’s not uncommon to turn down 50 percent — or even more — of partners who want to join their program for prospects that are not the right industry vertical, or geographical location, that the organization needs. Saturation of partners in the same space creates over competition, which is not good.
In doing your due diligence, make sure you really understand your partners’ core expertise in the industry, as well as the emerging markets they compete in. VARs should take a close look at their at a vendor’s existing partners, prospective solution sets to determine if it makes good business sense for their business.
- Be realistic about what you can do and the value you can provide: Understanding partnership requirements includes determining how your company fits in to the bigger picture, and where you can have the most impact on that partnership. As a VAR, you might want to consider: Will your company be a component or major part of the potential partner’s solutions? How will you be able to deliver results? How can you have a positive effect?
While it may be an attractive option for a VAR or reseller to align with a giant company, it may not be the best fit, when considering the value your organization can provide in relation to others. Big companies can have so many partners that they may not have time to focus on them individually and may instead concentrate on larger deals over smaller opportunities or on leveraging ideas that they can in turn use for their organization.
Vendors that are hungry for business and growth are typically smaller, emerging companies. They may be more willing to partner with VARs and offer to absorb some of their sales and marketing expenses, through trade shows, joint marketing programs, publicity, collateral development, etc.
- Align with partners that have common value propositions: Choose a partner that is willing to make an investment in your business. Take a look at the potential market growth a partnership can foster, such as helping with business resources or identifying additional markets in which you can grow. Some vendors may even help to build out the marketing plan of smaller partners, and VARs with limited resources to help them to better understand their value.
VARs and resellers should also seek to align with vendors that can equip them with the right tools, such as tech and marketing support, training programs, and collateral, including cheat sheets on the technology and value proposition(s), FAQs, and elevator pitches. Finally, VARs should look to work with companies that are willing and eager to grow new business verticals. This will, ultimately, give both parties more power in the marketplace.
- Embrace Competition: VARs and resellers are likely to be working with other vendors, and vendors are always going to have partners selling for other companies — so instead of worrying about competition, think of your partner program as building intimate relationships with your allies. From training, to resources and fostering leads, take a holistic approach, and engage with partners individually to gain mindshare. This includes creating 1:1 intimacy that shows that you understand your partner’s business, resources, and limitations and are vested in their success. Honing in on these specifics will enable you to provide true value to your partners.
Building solid partnerships means starting from the ground up — nurturing relationships by doing due diligence and taking the time to figure out if a partnership is the right fit for both parties. It’s critical to understand what type of partnership you organization wants to develop, how to sustain those relationships and ensure that your organization will get the support and resources it needs. Mutual alliances allow both parties to broaden their reach in the marketplace and to gain more customers.
That’s a win-win.
Gloria Canales is Channel Marketing Manager at Parascript, a leading recognition solutions provider, online at www.parascript.com. She draws on 25 years of marketing and working with partners and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org