How to Get the Most from Sales Partnerships

Article by Frank TraditiSales and marketing partnerships are relationships established between companies with complementary products and services that can be sold to a mutual client. If you can build a strong relationship with sales partners, you’ll have the advantage of multiple opportunities to sell your services to their clients.

For example, a company that provides a complex software solution could partner with a company that can provide the “real estate” to host the software application for their clients. These two entities have a mutual opportunity to serve clients together and can provide a seamless service offering.

This happens quite often in the technology industry, but it occurs throughout the marketplace. A graphic design company could parter with a print shop to deliver the print media their clients contract for, such as business cards, letterhead, etc.

Partnerships like these don’t survive on their own merits. Nurturing the partnership, educating each other, and seeking out new business opportunities must all be part of the game plan to ensure a healthy business relationship. All too often, each partner thinks the other is going to bring in the business. True for some partnerships, but false for most.

The key to success is that it’s your responsibility to make the partnership work.
To help you and your company take a proactive approach toward getting the most from sales and marketing partnerships, here are some strategies that you can implement right now.

Teach partners how to sell your product

This may sound obvious, but it’s often missed. Take your partner through the process that you and your sales team engage in when finding prospects, making sales presentations, and closing the deal. If your partner knows how to sell your product for you, the time saved on your part will be substantial.

Provide in-depth product knowledge

Don’t skimp on providing information. Ensure that your partners know your products and services as well as you do. Remember, they could potentially use your services to help sell theirs. If they can present a seamless integration between the two service offerings, the client will be more willing to buy.

Show your partners how your service works, explain the step-by-step process of integration, acquaint them with your niche market, list benefits to the client, and provide questions to ask of potential clients to qualify them.

Set up a regular communication channel

This is where the process can fall apart. Many partnerships start off quickly, then crash and burn just as rapidly. Don’t let this happen to you. Take the approach that your partners are just like employees. Publish a newsletter or email update that everyone in your partner’s company will see. Include sales techniques, product information, success stories, and tips on qualifying potential prospects.

Set up a regular meeting schedule with your partners — either by teleconference or live. Always include an educational portion of each meeting to help your partner identify appropriate opportunities for you.

Set up a bonus, award, or monetary incentive program

Reward your partners with something extra for driving the miles that you didn’t have to in order to land new business. This can be as simple as a gift certificate for dinner or a graduated commission structure. Whatever it is, make it easy to understand and attractive for salespeople, so they’ll be sure to include your services in their sales presentations.

Find business for your partners

Nothing works better to nurture a partnership than you finding and closing the first client. Make this a priority. Seek out opportunities where you can bring in your sales partner to offer a business solution. Even if you can’t be part of the solution provided to a new client, bring your partner in if their solution fits.

Learn the sales process of your partner

Learn as much as you can about how to find opportunities that fit your partners’ solutions. You’ll develop a deeper connection with your partners when you can talk as competently about their product as about your own.

Your partners are your eyes and ears to potential clients you would otherwise never connect with on your own. Don’t take this powerful relationship for granted. It takes education, management, communication, and perseverance to make it work.

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