Secrets to a Successful Partnership

Secrets to a Successful Partnership

 While I was out surfing the web the other day, I came across a page about the secrets of a successful marriage.  As I read the article, I started thinking that a successful channel partnership has a lot in common with a successful marriage.  When you consider that three out of four channel partnerships aren’t successful, maybe we can learn a thing or two from marriages that are only unsuccessful one out of two times!  So what can we learn from the secrets of successful marriages?  Let’s take a look:

Communication – Yeah, everyone talks a lot about communication.  But let’s face it, for most of us, communication with our spouses isn’t very deep.  It’s not very deep with our partners either.  A short e-mail here, a quick call there isn’t really communication.    

A good partnership needs clear, regular communications.  Your partners need to hear about marketing strategies, product updates, and sales leads from you.  You need to hear your partners when they tell you about sales condition and customer feedback.  Your partners are your feet on the street.  Develop a communication plan to facilitate regular communications with your partners.  They’ll thank you for it.

Sort out roles – If you’re married, you know you’ve got to sit down and make sure you’re both on the same page on who does what.  Otherwise, you’re likely to forget who’s supposed to pick up the kids at daycare.  A partnership is no different.  Take the time to look at the roles and expectations on both sides.  Outline what you provide in terms of marketing support, leads, territory, and level of exclusivity.  Get a commitment from your partners on what they’ll provide, such as dedicated resources, communication with their clients, how many presentations they make that include your product or service.  Don’t leave roles to chance, spell it out.

Expectations that are real – Along with determining roles, set realistic expectations.  Make sure you both know what you’re expecting and what’s being delivered.  Set up regular meetings to review sales forecasts, sales funnels, and leads.  Make sure your partners aren’t waiting for something from you that you weren’t anticipating.  This is where communications really comes in!

Commitment – Commitment is one of those buzz words!  A word everyone thinks they know what it means, but the definition is as individual as the person.  For example, a marriage is based on commitment, but what does that mean?  Fidelity, shared goals?  Since this is my blog, I say that commitment in a channel partnership is based on shared business goals and the mutual desire to reach them.  Commitment isn’t one-sided.  It’s buy-in from both sides.  What’s the biggest part of commitment?  Recruit the right partners who want to commit to you!

In a partnership, like a marriage, it all starts with communication.  But it also depends not just on talking, but what you talk about.  Start on the right page with your partners and use the secrets for your successful partnerships.

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