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July 26, 2021
By Jeff Winnett
All great endeavors require collaboration, and the channel is no different. In business, as in life, the value of a good partner is immeasurable.
For both personal and professional relationships, I’ve always stuck to three key ideals in building successful partnerships.
First, a good partner is in it for the long haul — they’re more concerned with building for the future than in short-term gain. For the channel, that means prioritizing client needs over financial return, making sure the customer receives the right solution to address their pain points.
Not only is this simply the right thing to do, but it’s also the best business decision. Happy customers mean recurring revenue for both partners and vendors.
Playing the long game also means providing support beyond the sale, increasing customer return on investment by promoting usage and adoption. When partners build rapport and work to maintain long-term relationships with customers, they establish themselves as trusted advisers in the IT community.
Second, a good partner looks out for the best interests of everyone involved. On the vendor side, this means protecting partners from competition with direct sales, making sure all that hard work to pursue an opportunity is done in good faith. When a partner is secure in the knowledge that their leads will be protected, they’re free to pursue deals with either the urgency or careful diligence that best suits each opportunity. Again, the end result is a better solution for the customer.
Vendors also have a responsibility to protect the reputations their partners have worked so diligently to establish. As entrepreneurs, a partner’s standing in his or her local community — where they work, live, where their kids go to school — is everything. Suppliers must commit to protect that brand identity, by delivering a reliable product that lives up to what it promises and has the proper protocols for escalation in place.
In pursuing opportunities, partners know their clients’ needs best, so vendors should equip them with the independence to pursue deals how they best see fit. If a partner wants to pursue a deal alone, so be it. If they need to call in the vendor for extra support, that’s fine, too. It’s that freedom of choice that leads to trust, and from there to success.
Finally, a good partner listens, and is open to change. Relationships evolve, and both parties must be willing to adapt to make it work. As a vendor’s partner program grows, they must be open to feedback and improvement, finding new ways to work together with partners. This flexibility will only lead to a stronger relationship.
Inversely, for channel partners, that means speaking up when something isn’t right. Like all relationships, there will be disagreements. But it’s how we approach those differences that matters most. Through open-ended and honest conversation, potential conflicts can become opportunities for new, innovative approaches. The partners who are most successful consistently improve by seeking feedback from both suppliers as well as customers.
So, how does one identify quality partners to team up with? As is true in life, you don’t enter into a relationship at its peak. Often, that rapport must be cultivated over time. As I frequently tell my team, you can recruit a good partner — but you develop great ones.
It’s about playing the long game, establishing mutual respect and being open to change. In the channel or our personal lives, that’s what being a good partner is all about.
Like most challenges, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and the payoff is always worth the effort.
Jeff Winnett is the VP of Partner Sales for North America and Australia at RingCentral. An experienced sales leader, Jeff has spent over 30 years managing sales teams in the telecommunications space. Jeff is a results-driven leader with a proven track record of success, including serving as the head of global channel sales and commercial excellence at Honeywell prior to joining RingCentral. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @RingCentral on Twitter.
Read more about:Agents
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