The old expression that says two heads are better than one can certainly play out in the business world. When compared to going at it alone, having good business partners makes it easier to succeed, can propel growth and comes with a wide range of benefits.
That being said, if you don’t pick the right sales partner, you could find them doing more harm than good. Fortunately, the following tips should help you identify which partners are worth the initial investment of time and resources.
Choose Partners with a Proven Track Record
Taking on a partner should be viewed in the same way your company would taking on a high-level employee. This is not the realm for taking a risk on an unproven company that you know little about. The best recipe for success is to go after partners that have a proven success rate that they are willing to share with you.
This is a great way of narrowing down the field, but a proven track record alone should not make the decision for you.
Do Your Research
Partner success relies heavily on relationships. To that end, it’s vital to research potential partners as thoroughly as possible––ideally calling other companies they’ve worked with to get a feel for how the communication lines worked and what areas made them a successful as a channel partner.
This may not always be possible of course, in which case you need to make sure you’ll spend a good amount of face-to-face time with the key team members you would be working with in your partnership. The more you get a feel for the people you’ll be interactive with on a daily basis, the better you’ll sense if they’re a good fit.
Make Sure Your Goals are Aligned
Bringing in a channel partner should be a mutually beneficial situation. One thing to be very careful about is ensuring your respective goals are aligned––in terms of what you’re hoping to achieve and what your partner considers to be realistic goals to be working towards.
Never rush into a partnership without having this conversation. It’s imperative you share the same vision from the outset, to avoid disappointments down the line. In addition to having a shared expectation of these goals, give your partners the ability to track and monitor their progress over time so that you are both prepared to have a productive end of year evaluation.
Put the Right Incentives in Place
Good partners will always be rewarded for their sales numbers, but to turn them into great partners you should think about developing an incentive program that inspires the kind of application and momentum that truly drives growth.
Incentive schemes can be the difference between a partner who just ticks the box, and one who strives every single day to hit their targets and go above and beyond. Consider a rewards program that is tied to a formal partner certification or generating leads in excess of their quota. This may help keep them motivated and improve their ability to close more deals.
Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Ties With Ineffective Partners
Not all partners will succeed for your business. Sometimes you can do all the research and vet a potential partner exhaustively, only to find them to be a relative failure when the real work begins.
If that should happen, never be afraid to cut your ties and walk away from a partnership. Carrying an underachieving partner can be damaging to your business in a number of ways, as it takes up valuable time and resources and also sets the wrong tone for your operation as a whole.
Evaluating which partners need to be let go should be an important component of your annual partner review process.
Be Open and Honest from the Start
As with any kind of relationship, partnerships stand and fall on the level of honesty and integrity you bring to the table.
If you want great partners, you need to be transparent from the outset. Be willing to share as much information as you can and expect that your partners do the same. The more open you can be, the greater the chance you and your partner will form a mutual understanding that benefits your business.