Like a dog chasing a car, do you know what to do with a partner once you get one interested?
Having a partner interested is not enough. There are many things to be considered. A partner may bring new market opportunities for you, but how do you make the best of it, or even getting started, as cost effectively as possible.
In this article, I’m assuming that:
- you are ready to tackle the market and able to respond to the market opportunity in the partner’s region
- you have a product with a growing number of happy customers
- that you know what capabilities are required to sell and deliver your product
- you have the necessary sales materials, demonstrations and website ready to sell in the partners market
- you are clear about what responsibilities you are looking for from the partner
So, whether you approached them or they approached you, you have secured interest from a potential partner. Don’t just jump on an airplane in naive excitement just yet. We can address many issues over the phone and web-conference to make sure.
1) Outline your product, your proposition, your target customer and your typical deal size and mix
- As an introduction, outline only, what your product is and what is does for your customers. Be clear about your target customer and the typical decision makers.
- Outline a typical sale, deal size, deal mix between upfront consulting, licences, services and support required.
- No need to demo your product too early. Case studies and outlining why customers buy is more important.
- Seek the partners view on the market potential in their local market. Do they feel they could sell it and do they have customers in mind?
2) Learn about the Prospective Partner’s business
- NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements or Confidentiality Agreements) may be signed at any stage in this process, depending on what information both companies wish to exchange.
- What does the Prospect Partner company sell and to who?
- What do they typically sell? What size of deals, deal mix and complexity and to what decision makers?
- How do they market and sell? How many sales people they have and what is their sector or solution focus?
- Do they resell other products or just their own? What is the length and the complexity of their sales cycle?
- Why are they interested in reselling your product? How does it fit in with their current business and plans? Strategically, Marketing and Sales and Operationally.
- Get to know their team, management, marketing, sales and delivery leads.
3) Assess the Market Opportunity
- If you haven’t already get some outline numbers of prospective customers in the target market, understand market needs, understand the competition and outline market opportunity for you and your partner.
- How many prospective customers do they already have relationships with?
- How many customers are they willing to introduce your product to immediately, on agreement?
- What are their plans or your joint-plans to sell to these customers and grow beyond their immediate contact base?
- What can we expect within 3 month, 6 months and 12 months?
- Do these outline target number and pace suit both companies?
4) Present your Product, Sales and Implementation Process
- Show them how you sell the product or more importantly why customers buy. Assess the differences in their target market. Will their customers have these needs?
- Present and Demo the product as a sales presentation to the relevant sales people.
- Demo the solution from a technical point of view to their technical team.
5) Assess the Partners Capabilities
- Discuss through a typical project case study, from sales process through to full implementation.
- Assess their capabilities and their typical projects to determine fit.
- Domain Knowledge – assess the partners domain knowledge or the industry and decision makers you are selling into.
- Marketing and Sales Capabilities in generating leads and closing deals.
- Product Technical Capabilities for implementations and credibility in sales.
- Project Delivery, sizes, complexity and types of typical projects.
6) Seek their commitment
Seek commitment from the partner to:
- travel to your office for sales and technical training including, maybe, visiting some existing customers.
- To organise a roadshow of potential customers visits, ideally from the partner’s current customers/relationships, to start winning new business for your product and begin building your sales pipeline.
- to work quickly to secure a joint-reference site within the market.
- maybe to assist or pay for relevant customisations or localisation for their market.
Demonstrate your commitment:
- to follow up these discussions with a visit to their office and to understand their market.
- to provide the necessary sales materials, brochures, presentations, product demonstrations and website material.
- to commit to giving time to getting the market started and supporting their sales efforts. Being available to discuss opportunities and during a defined induction phase, assist them with proposals and closing deals.
- to support them in their on-going sales efforts to make it easier for them to sell your product and help them make money.
7) Clear Plans, Responsibilities, Agreement and Action
- At this point with all of the above sorted, depending on the value of the opportunity, you travel into their market to meet for some relationship building and final planning.
- Document the action plan for the initial stages of the partnership with clear responsibilities and dates.
- Clearly agree relevant contacts on both sides for management sponsors, Partner day-to-day point of contacts, Technical Contacts, etc.
- Outline a Heads of Terms / Memorandum of Understanding, capturing the commercial relationship, expectations from both parties, confidentiality and commercial terms.
- Structure an incentive programme, base commissions/discounts and bonuses based on activity targets and deal targets met.
- Act on the plans and commitments. Not everything will go right, but work to trust and support the partner.
Manage expectations, theirs and your own. Starting a new market can take time. Many things can be different in this new market. Learn from your partner and pass on your experience to them. It is the shared knowledge of experience that makes the partnership work in delivering joint revenues and growing your user-base and the value of your company.