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Optimize Your Partner Portfolio for Growth

Selecting and managing your portfolio of partners is both art and science.  So, here are five areas to consider to ensure your partner mix is healthy and optimized for growth:

• GEOGRAPHY – Nothing says shrinking margins like too many partners in the same geographic region. Too many of the same type of partners competing for too few deals forces unnatural pricing and squeezes margins. It also gives your “deals desk” people incredible heartburn. Before bringing on a new partner, ask yourself how many like partners you have already in this area and whether this partner will bring something additive to the table. Your existing partners will thank you for this.

• SOLUTION ELEMENT/EXPERTISE – Many enterprise solutions require hardware, software and services with commensurate expertise. Make sure your mix of partners offers a breadth of solution elements and expertise, and that you do not have too many of one kind in the mix.  For the icing on the cake, work to deliver an environment in which partners may easily partner with one another to complete a solution.

• BUSINESS MODEL – Fill-in-the-blank-as-a-Service is all the rage now, and proving to be an attractive business model for customers that do not want to build out or manage infrastructure or software upgrades. Yet, there are still many customers that prefer to take ownership of a solution and to manage their own environment. This means you need partners with business models that match the ever-evolving customer delivery preferences. Some companies invest in helping their partners evolve their business models as well, finding it less expensive in the long run than to bring on and enable new partners.

• SIZE MATTERS – Everyone likes to catch the big fish, but big fish partners don’t typically do a good job of selling and servicing small and medium-sized companies. Make sure your portfolio is stocked with partners of all sizes so that your various customer markets are adequately served…unless, of course, you only serve one size market.

• EMERGING VS. ESTABLISHED – Stocking your portfolio with solid, established partners gives you a foundation and confidence that some of the kinks have been worked out in their servicing customers. At the same time, established partners have a more challenging time changing course when the market shifts. Having a mix of emerging partners in your portfolio keeps you fresh.

Deliberate partner portfolio management requires intestinal fortitude to say “no” to a partner, or the sales rep advocating for a new partner. Being selective, however, leaves room for the next partner, which may be better suited to help you grow in new markets with new customers.  Here’s to finding just the right mix of partners to help you do just that!

April 21, 2014  ·  

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