Partnering with others – if it’s to be an option to help you grow and expand your business, how can you ensure you’re doing it right? Is there a secret recipe for success?
IDC predicts that cloud spending will exceed $500B by 2020*, and in their recent paper “Partner of the Future: 10 Transformations IT solutions providers must make” they outline ten specific areas that partners should consider when looking forward with their business – and aiming to ensure they remain successful both now, and looking towards 2020.*
Move over the generalist; step forward the specialist
It’s great to know customers are looking for specialists, but can you really be a specialist in everything? What are the options available to you? How should you best extend your portfolio to provide a wider proposition to customers? Adding value is key (Services, managed services and IP instead of ‘just’ reselling a particular technology), and it’s not just the IT contact within customers that needs attention. Think about how you can best approach business decision makers too.
Growing the portfolio of skills you provide could be one route – either training your existing team or recruiting fresh faces and effectively buying those skills / that IP in. But there’s an alternative, offered by connecting with other, like minded, partners that have what you and your customers need (IP / services / business insights). And in turn they may also be looking for qualities that you have. The ‘do it yourself’ days fade into the past as you approach this new world of collaboration.
Over the course of the next few months, we’ll be exploring the world of Partnering for Growth as we introduce quick and easy to digest materials and resources to help as you partner with others.
Whether you’re new to this, or a seasoned professional, we hope there’ll be something of interest for everyone. These hints, tips and guidance are here to help you, but the ultimate path you take is your decision and your destiny.
Starting out? A quick checklist
You may choose to do some or all of these, or approach partnering in your own way:
- Start with the end in mind; set a clear goal/outcome for what your partnering relationship should achieve
- Define “what’s in this for my business”! That way when you’re meeting with prospective partners you know what you’re looking for
- The negotiable and non-negotiable! Ensure you’re clear on what you’re prepared to negotiate on and what elements are non-negotiable
Search & Select
- Define your criteria for the kind of organisation you want to work with:
- Technical skills
- Other skills (selling, change management etc.)
- Knowledge pools (contacts, specialisms)
- Organisational size
- Attitude to partnering
- Customer references
- Audience access (customer reach) and insights
- Culture and approach to business
Agreeing the basics
- Define and agree the gives and gets for both parties
- Ensure you’re comfortable that both parties have an offering that customers want
- Confirm for yourselves that, commercially, the relationship can work
Setting up the relationship
- Should there be a formal or informal contractual arrangement between you?
- Don’t be afraid to agree up front the circumstances under which you may both (or separately) decide the relationship is not for you (better to have this discussion up front than further down the line!)
- Write a simple plan together to ensure you’ve a common view of success and the outcomes
- Think about the customer:
- Who takes responsibility for the customer engagement side? (Define who does this and on what basis)
- Who supports the customer at and post-sale?
- Who’s the main contact from your end and whose job is it to ensure they stay with you?
- What are the checkpoints to ensure the customer is – and remains – happy?
- Define the commercials (if you agree any) and how these will be governed
- Agree how you will review and adjust these commercials
- Agree the requirements that each organisation has in terms of levelling their understanding and ability to represent each other’s offerings. What training? What support?
- Agree a process for arbitration just in case of any problems
- Are there additional resources needed on either side?
- Determine how you will keep track to ensure you both have capacity to resource the customer?
- Define a regular set of meetings and reviews:
- Reviewing customer progress / deals / outcomes
- Reviewing the performance of the relationship and longer term sustainability
*IDC November 2015