The partner that shouts the loudest, does not always deserve the most attention

How do you systematically prioritise your partners to ensure you’re investing your time, money and people in the right relationships to deliver the results your business needs?

Choosing which partners to spend the most time and effort with is often subjective and it is no surprise therefore, that differences of opinions often arise between sales and marketing teams.

In an ideal world, you only really want to work with partners who are both a great strategic fit and are fully engaged with you and your teams but how do you make this happen? And what happens if your marketing headcount is reduced and the business cannot support as many partners as before or, in the case of many systems integrators, a conscious decision is made to focus on less partners?

Several years ago, we developed a super simple tool for partner prioritisation. Based on the Boston Matrix, you can easily categorise your cash cows, rising stars and question marks. Or to put it in more relatable terms, those that fit with your strategic and objectives and are highly engaged, those that are a good fit but need an extra push over the line and those which despite being super keen, take up too much time with little positive results.

This tool continues to be relevant today as vendors and systems integrators both battle to get the best return on their partner marketing investment. So, what criteria do you need to be considering when you prioritise your partners? Through our own experience, understanding of the channel and research carried out with The University of Huddersfield, we have split it into two areas; strategic fit and level of engagement

Is your partner a good strategic fit?

  • Are they playing in the same geographic markets?
  • Is there a big revenue opportunity?
  • Is there a good growth trajectory?
  • Is there stability in terms of the people you are dealing?
  • Do they invest in the relationship and in governance and reviews?
  • Do you have a differentiated proposition together?
  • Is everyone trained and enable to sell and market your solution?
  • Is your solution embedded in a service offering?
  • Can the partner support the product, contract, price it easily?

Is your partner fully engaged?

  • Do you have a joint business plan?
  • Do you have joint executive sponsors?
  • Are all the stakeholders brought into the relationship?
  • Have you built a good rapport?
  • Do the sales teams get paid on your joint offering?
  • Have you got good complimentary corporate cultures?
  • Have you got named contacts?
  • Do the partner’s marketers understand your solution?
  • Is it easy to work with them?
  • Have you got the basics in place, like joint collateral on your websites?

Our tool takes just 10 minutes to fill in for a partner and is a quick and easy way to make sure partners are being prioritised objectively not subjectively. In doing so you can save your investment, resource and time being wasted on partners that are not a great fit for your organisation and make sure you get the most out of those that are. If you are interested in giving it a try drop us a line to [email protected]

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