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How to Keep Your Partners Happy Through Change

Change is never easy, and for our business partners, change that negatively impacts revenue is high risk. Not only may you damage a relationship, you could, ultimately, lose a partner to your competition waiting in the wings for just this moment of vulnerability.

So, here are five surefire ways to minimize your partner’s loss of revenue when you make important changes to your partner strategy and/or programmatic changes, like compensation and training/certification requirements.

1. GIVE YOUR PARTNERS NOTICE…BUT, NOT TOO MUCH NOTICE. This, of course, depends on the size of the change. Most changes take longer than you think for partners to digest, especially when you remember that you are not their only solution provider. The bigger the impact, the more time required. Don’t pre-announce if you don’t have significant details worked out. Uncertainty creates anxiety and distraction. Anxiety and distraction affect sales.

2. LOOK AT CHANGE HOLISTICALLY. Before rolling out new changes, cover the bases across the various functional departments of your partners’ businesses. Ask yourself how these changes will affect their business operationally and systems-wise. What will be required to train their marketing and sales people? Seemingly simple things, like rewriting content, or what it takes to change pricing and configuration information on their web site, are often overlooked.

3. REMEMBER THAT YOUR SALES TEAM IS YOUR NUMBER ONE CONSTITUENT. Gain buy-in from your channel sales team and ensure they have everything they need to answer their partners’ concerns.  Don’t put your channel sales team in the position of supporting change that can’t be rationalized with the “what’s in it for me” business proposition for the partners.

4. ESTABLISH A CENTRALIZED PROJECT MANAGEMENT OFFICE (PMO).  Ensure there is a “one stop shop” for your sales teams and partners to maximize their time and capture ideas and challenges incurred along the way. An effective PMO becomes the epicenter for managing change, creating accountability and, when done well, keeping things on budget and on time.

5. DON’T EXPECT WHAT YOU’RE NOT WILLING TO INSPECT…MONTHS LATER.  It’s not over when you deliver the Powerpoint or announce the changes on the portal. Check back in with your sales teams and partners proactively to gauge how the changes are going, and don’t assume they’ve all been understood or implemented. Better to check in before you notice a dip in your partner’s revenue, then after the fact.

May these tips and techniques for managing change with your valued partners pave the way for you to effortlessly evolve your partner strategies and programs.

July 3, 2014  ·  

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