By Ryan Glushkoff
There are partnerships that are “Letter & Logo” partnerships and then there are partnerships that actually work. You know what I’m talking about. Letter & Logo partnerships are those for which a contractual agreement has been signed, you put each other’s logo on your websites, and you wait for it to rain revenue! But, much to everyone’s surprise, nothing happens.
Partnerships take work. And not just one-time up-front work, but ongoing, nitty gritty work.
For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that you have found a viable partner. It may be a referral agreement or it may be a re-seller agreement. Either way, assume that there is a viable business opportunity to work together and make money as partners.
When launching the partnership, don’t rush it despite what everyone will say to you. Think of launching a partnership like running a football play. Every player should be on the line of scrimmage and in position ready for the whistle to blow. When the whistle blows, everyone goes at the same time. You can’t be offsides or have delayed reactions, otherwise the play will not work as designed. To avoid miscues, my recommendation is to have some kind of launch committee that meets regularly and is composed of team members from both organizations. This will help everything and everyone stay on task. And my advice is to keep these “pre-launch” activities secret from the sales team at large. Don’t get me wrong, I love salespeople, but I do know they love shiny new things. And if they find out about the shiny new thing (i.e., the partnership) before it is ready for prime time and have a bad experience with it, it will damage the launch potential of the partnership because the salespeople will talk and the “word on the street” will be negative among the reps.
When marketing a partnership, here is my list of things to do before you launch and, in part two, I’ll cover my list of things to do after you launch. Because after all, who doesn’t love a good list?
Let’s start with the Top Five Things You Can Do Before Launching a Partnership:
- 1. Marketing Collateral – This means everything electronic and everything print. Make sure you know each piece’s purpose and audience and that there is some master plan that aligns collateral to the customer journey.
- 2. Sales Process – You need to figure out how leads and opportunities get tracked in your CRM and how it gets attributed to the partnership, how the contracting and billing works so that the monies go to the right place, and how provisioning and training happens so they have a pleasurable initial user experience.
- 3. Sales Team Mapping – Assuming each partner has an in-house sales team, they have their structure and you have yours. You need to map their structure to your structure so that the reps on both sides know who they are supposed to be working with. By doing this mapping for the reps, you are setting them up so that they can connect with their counterparts. Whether it be coffee or dinner, it’s important that reps meet face to face and compare their pipelines so they can figure out the best way to work together.
- 4. Press Release – Press releases are funny and people are funny about press releases. There is a whole other blog entry on this topic alone, but why not tell the world about your partnership? I think the fear that the partnership will not work gives people pause, but business is about risk, and this is a risk worth taking when there is strength and trust behind both brands. Ideally, the press release should be timed for just before the sales team launch. That way, you can give all of the reps paper copies of the press release in the launch, which will increase the odds that they will read it and it will give you the opportunity to talk to them about it.
- 5. Sales Team Launch – Meet with the sales teams in person. Bring them all to one office if you can; otherwise, hold a series of meetings in each office. The key thing is to get facetime with and mindshare of the reps for a sustained amount of time that is not a GoToMeeting or Webex. (People log into those kinds of meetings and just don’t pay attention.)
Read Don’t Be a Letter & Logo Partner, Part Two: Top Five Things You Can Do After You Launch a Partnership here..