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Ahead of the Curve eNewsletter: Partners are complex. Being flexible for valued partners.



As graduation season ends, we apply a particularly inspirational commencement message to the world of partnering in this month's Ahead of the Curve.

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Jacqueline Franklin
Chief Partnering Officer

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Polyhedra Power!

Commencement speeches are plentiful this time of year, along with the commensurate "ya-da-ya-da-ya-da." I was intrigued, however, by our high school principal's speech when I read the headline in our local paper, "Complex polyhedrons sent forth…" Who wouldn't want to read that article?

In a nutshell, he offered the following observation about the class of 2009: "…you are beautiful in your complexity… Forget about square pegs and round holes - wrong analogy - you people are complex polyhedrons."

(For those of you who may not have embraced high school geometry, a polyhedron is a three-dimensional shape with a bunch of polygonal faces, like the Scattegory dice. From pyramids to tetrahedrons, octahedrons, dodecahedrons and icosahedrons, suffice it to say, polyhedra are complex!)

"You are never going to fit anywhere," the principal continued, "but you will make the world fit you." A backhanded compliment, perhaps, but who doesn't want to think of themselves as intriguing and unique? And, so (but, of course!) the same goes for our business partners.

While it makes perfect sense to develop partner programs that revolve around particular types of partners, it's never as straightforward as fitting that round peg into the round hole. Your business is evolving and so are those of your partners. It's likely the partner you recruited two years ago doesn't look the same today. Smart partners reinvent themselves regularly to meet evolving customer requirements and continue to be relevant.

So, while it's important to keep it simple, partner programs need to offer enough flexibility and faces, if you will, for valued partners to evolve with marketplace requirements. Ultimately, you'll find success by fitting to your partners, rather than forcing them to fit you. Here's how.

1) Begin with predominant business models. Designing a program around
    partner business models is a best practice and an important starting point.
    Understanding how your partners make money and extending benefits
    accordingly shows that you understand their business and are there to help

grow (as will you, by association). And, while admittedly this part of program
    design can seem round peg/round hole in approach, it sets a solid foundation
    that enables you to recognize emerging and new channels driven by changing
    market conditions, through specialized program modifications.

2) Utilize specialties or tracks to engage emerging and new business models.
    If you don't have a home for a particular partner model, create a specialty or
    track to accommodate the different approaches to market. The web has given
    birth to a number of new channels (e.g., Software-as-a-Service, Application
    Service Providers, eTailers, Managed Service Providers, etc.). Some of your
    partners will embrace (or have already evolved to) these new models to help
    them meet customer requirements or fortify margin. Build a "straw man" that
    includes input from a few strategic and/or target partners and identify
    resources (partners and internal) to put the specialty to work.

3) Pilot and measure. Determine how you will define success, what you're going
    to measure, and over what period of time. Tweak direction and resources as
    needed. If the pilot was deemed successful, it's time to…

4) Institutionalize, as appropriate. If the opportunity warrants, make room for an
    official new program element. Typically, this includes rationalizing the specialty or
    track with your existing program elements; branding; building and executing an
    operations and communications plan; training; and launching. Institutionalizing
    a new program element can take some effort, but if the first three steps are
    executed carefully, the polyhedron will be a remarkable sight to behold.

Here's to embracing that ever-complex polyhedron of partners, in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Opportunity Knocking

Clients Seeking Candidates
Our clients and business comrades are looking for candidates to fill the following positions:

  • Database Marketing Analyst - Boston area
  • Marketing CRM Lead - Boston area
  • Director, Developer Programs - Boston area
  • Senior Enterprise Sales Leaders - Boston area
Candidates Seeking Job Opportunities
The following individuals are looking for opportunities to add value to a company seeking channels and business partner expertise:
  • VP, Marketing and/or Channels
  • VP, Sales and/or Business Development
If you are seeking an opportunity or candidates with such skills, please contact us for more information.

Routes2Market helps business leaders identify, find and keep customers,
grow revenue and successfully partner to scale their organizations.

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phone: 781-990-5525

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