Questions to ask Before Entering into a Partnership (Part I)
It’s all about the product — or is it? As a company with a reputation to uphold, the quality of the products you represent is critical. However, the support you receive through the vendor/partner relationship is equally as important, if not more so. Rather than being dumped into a formal partner management machine with little to no resources, increasing numbers of partners are seeking a more personal approach.
Relationships based on one-to-one personal contact rich with training, coaching, and support. Remember, even with the perfect product if you’re not receiving the support you need, you’re not working at your true potential. It’s crucial to inquire about the nature of the relationship before entering into an agreement.
Use these questions below as a guide before establishing a partner relationship.
Will we receive any personal training on the product?
Let’s be honest, there’s not much use in having great products to sell if your employees don’t know how to use and more importantly, sell them. If your employees aren’t properly trained on a product, your clients may never hear about a solution which perfectly fits their needs — a missed opportunity of the worst kind.
With dedicated product training time, situations like these are less likely to occur. One to two weeks of one-on-one personal training time provides the necessary knowledge for employees to feel comfortable not only using, but also selling a product. In fact, working with experienced consultants, with at least one complete product install during the implementation project is a great way to solidify product knowledge. It also boosts your employee’s confidence, while providing your company some quick revenue. A win-win!
What is the revenue potential with your product?
Vendors that compete in the same space as their partners will adversely impact your revenue potential. Ask up front whether your vendor will be competing in the same space or targeting the end-customer market. If the answer to either of these questions is yes, consider walking away. Signing up to represent a product that is also being sold by the vendor is not at all ideal for your bottom line.
What about product customization?
Inquire if there are ongoing revenue opportunities for subsequent years based on meeting minimum sales goals. If so, are they willing to help you meet these goals? For example, do they allow product customization? Do they provide training to help you customize their platform for an additional competitive advantage within the marketplace?
These revenue based advantages come down to the willingness of the vendor to support and train your people. The more quality training available to you, the better chance you have in meeting and exceeding your revenue goals.
What level of support is available daily and in case of major issues?
As a company if your client has an issue, YOU have an issue. Being fully supported through your vendor/partner relationship while being faced with a problem is mission critical. Having 24 hour, 5 days a week access to your vendor will make all issues that much easier to resolve. If you service clients that work weekends, ask your partner to extend support during Saturday and Sunday as well.
As a partner, it’s essential you have direct contact with a member of the vendor key executive team at all times during your working hours. Account managers can easily resolve daily technical matters, but should a major issue arise, you will benefit greatly from access to an executive. They have the ability to make instant decisions, allocate resources, and troubleshoot problems from a high level.
Remember, clients will always have issues. However, how quickly and expertly you respond to their problems makes the difference. Exceed client expectations by participating in supportive partnerships.
To be continued….