While I have always maintained doing partnerships is the key to entering a market faster, I have observed some real challenges with respect to handling expectations. It will be wise to keep this in mind if you have the responsibility to create a partner ecosystem on the selling side.
To handle the expectations mismatch, the first thing to be sure is that the partner you are targeting is actually doing business with the customers (your Ideal Customer profile) you want to target. A lot of issues arise because with the secondary research that your team does, the partners seem to be in the same market that you want to target, but after you start engaging with them, there is a disconnect. So you need to be clear before you sign up a partner, that they actually have customers in your target market.
The other issue is with respect to the sales bandwidth – if your agenda for partnering is to get access to a large market, then you need to have enough bandwidth allocated to your product/service, by the partner. Most of the times the partners over commit in terms of what they will be able to do. This happens because either
- They have fewer sales people than they told you.
- The sales people already have too many products/services to sell so your product/service is an overload on them
- Your product/service is technically more complex and the sales people don’t have the ability to take this to the market
One other item which I encounter often is the expectation mismatch on both sides. In my opinion this happens because from your side, the channel’s person is in a hurry to show partner acquisition without clearly understanding the partner’s strengths and weaknesses. This happens all the time because all of us have to meet our monthly/quarterly numbers.
On the other side, the partner thinks that since they are partnering with your company, you will help them sell. While to a certain extent, you will enable the partner to sell and you will have marketing programs to help the partners, at the end of the day, the partner has to sell. If you have to sell for the partner, then why do you need a partner.
I have noticed these as the key challenges. If you ensure that communication are clear, the qualification criteria for a partner that you want and the type of people that they employ is clear then a lot of heartburn and wasted time can be avoided.
As we progress I will share other challenges that you should be aware off.
Inspite of that, I would still think that the partner route is the fastest way to get into a new market.
Till next time then.