When choosing for a significant other, you look for a range of compatibilities and great qualities that ensure the relationship will last. The same is true when you’re a solutions partner: you want to screen each candidate to make sure they’re the “other half” that will help you be your best and succeed for years to come. While most of us know what we’re looking for in a romantic partner, determining what makes a good business partner can be a bit trickier - but it’s actually far less subjective. If you’re starting your search for the right vendor to partner with, we recommend you look for these five things...
A Vendor Who Will Help You GrowYour partner should be as committed to growing your revenue stream and generating new leads for your business as you are. As you work to recruit new customers, improve your services and expand your capabilities, your partner should be doing the same thing for their own business and for you. That means they should offer comprehensive support for your business from the beginning of the relationship, conducting training and ongoing education, and offering sales and marketing tools that will help you break into new markets. Remember that a valuable partner is committed to developing their own products and solutions and helping you expand your business.
A Vendor You Can TrustYou know your business hinges on the relationships you cultivate with your customers. That means always providing top quality service and never dropping the ball. Especially in this industry, an outage or error can cost your customers thousands of dollars and their business credibility. If the solution you offer your customers isn’t fail-proof, you risk losing their trust and damaging your own reputation, so look carefully at a potential partner’s track record. Do they have current satisfied customers and partners in relevant, high profile industries? Are stellar customer and partner satisfaction and service clearly expressed, core company values? Most importantly, does the company strictly adhere to compliance regulation and have the documentation to prove it? If so, you have the foundation for a solid relationship.
A Vendor Who’s as Ambitious as You AreBeing the best means excelling across the board: technological innovation, customer service, sales and marketing... and the list goes on. You’re constantly evolving to meet the trends of the broader market. Your potential partner should be doing the same thing by offering more than just the standard solutions -- going above and beyond to stand out in the industry. Does your partner have a solution that enables you to meet the needs of a mobile workforce? Competitive SLA agreements? Do they employ a modern approach to sales and marketing that incorporates social media, sophisticated lead generation and real relationship building? If your prospective partner can’t answer an emphatic “yes” to all these questions, say a polite “thanks for chatting” and keep looking.
A Vendor with a Rock-Solid ReputationDo a little research on a potential partner via a Google search and through their website. If your partner has a solid and positive reputation that precedes them, it will benefit you greatly in your relationships with your own customers. When your partner has a customer base that is already large and loyal, it not only speaks to the quality of their service, but it also means they’ll be able to give you a leg up when it comes to winning new customers. You should also look at the members of the executive team. See where they’ve studied and where they’ve worked in the past. Do they have a history of building game-changing, highly profitable software companies? If so, you’re likely in good hands. Finally, search for what awards your potential partner has won and industry recognition in terms of professional organizations they are associated with.
A Vendor Who Appreciates Your UniquenessIn order to bring out your best, your partner needs to understand what your talents are and provide you with tools to help you develop them. Your partner should be prepared to work with your particular specialization and revenue goals, and offer a program that can be customized to your business so it is most beneficial to both of you. One-size-fits-all is a recipe for mediocrity when it comes to a partner relationship. Make sure you choose a provider that values each of their partners on an individual level, and has a team in place who is devoted to managing and cultivating partnerships. Partners are a critical element of any business’s success, and if a provider doesn’t make you feel appreciated, find another one that does!
The Desired OutcomeWhen you meet a potential romantic partner, sometimes it’s a good idea to play it cool, but if you find a vendor that meets the five criteria above, act quickly! The moment you join forces with a quality vendor, you begin building a solid foundation for a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership that will contribute to the growth of your business. If you’re lucky, you might even find someone who’s fun to work with as well!
Terry Cunningham, President and General Manager of EVault, is an experienced, hands-on senior leader with a track record of success in building organizations to both realize their full potential and work well with the channel to maximize sales and opportunity. Cunningham was honored as a CRN Channel Chief in both 2011 and 2012, and the EVault Cloud-Connected Service Provider Program was named a “5-Star Program” in the 2011 CRN Partner Guide.