Having sales partners is a smart way to bring in more revenue without necessarily needing to add to your overhead. But having sales partners is not always easy. After all, even though they aren’t your employees, you’ve just added more people to your operation. One issue you’ll have to tackle is sharing data with these parties. Here are some best practices to adopt.
Ensure Confidentiality with a Contract
Even if you’re not planning to share sensitive data with our sales partners (you almost certainly will be), it’s smart to have them sign a contract ensuring they keep your information private. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to them. After the contract is signed, it’s still wise to remind them from time to time when you’re sharing confidential information with them.
Create a Confidentiality Policy
Another really good idea is to take this time to create a confidentiality policy. Have any sales partner you’re currently working with sign it and then proceed with this practice in the future. It’s a good idea to get an attorney involved with this to ensure you’re covering all your bases. Amongst other things, this policy needs to cover what is protected and what you believe to be confidential.
Have your own employees sign it while they’re at it. Doing so will keep your data safe long after they leave (the same will go for any employees leaving your partner’s company).
Non-compete and Nondisclosure Clauses
You might want to get noncompete and nondisclosure agreements signed, while you’re at it. The former will outline an amount of time your partner can’t help a competitor of yours once you part ways. The former is a lot like a confidentiality policy in that it lists the things that will be shared with your partner, but which they can’t share with anyone else. Again, you’ll want the help of an experienced attorney to put together either.
Methods for Sharing Data
Now that we have covered the various safeguards you can use to keep your sensitive data away from the wrong eyes, let’s look at various methods for the literal sharing of that information. After all, if it’s so important that you need confidentiality policies involved, you probably want to make sure that it gets to the right people. Even if 100% of the people in your sales partners’ organizations may have signed nondisclosure agreements, you still have to make sure you have a way of allowing the right people to see the right content. We call this “permissioning” content, and the ability to permission content requires some tools.
If you’re sharing the data with more than one party, consider using a cloud-based platform like Dropbox. The great thing about this option is that it’s in a central database that people can access from any device no matter where they are. Sending it to someone’s corporate email address could restrict their ability to get to it.
Dropbox and similar platforms will also allow people to make changes to the same document and record who made those alterations. This way, you don’t have to bother with email after email of people revising documents and sending them back out to everyone.
Lastly, there’s PRM (Partner Relationship Management) software. This will make it easy to share your sensitive data with all of your partners at once through a secure line. You can track who’s looked at it and taken the appropriate steps after doing so too. Aside from this important feature, PRM software will allow you to do all kinds of things that optimize your relationships with your partners.
Sharing data with your sales partners is necessary, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to be nonchalant about it. Instead, follow the above best practices to do so safely and effectively.