It's long been said that relationships are important in business. Of particular importance is the relationship you have with your technology partner and their links to other vendors.
A technology partner can give you access to more IT services, more knowledge and more connections. By working closely with your partner, especially one that has their own strategic relationships with vendors, you can reap huge benefits for your business.
Chief amongst the benefits is increasing sales, but drill down a bit further and this could involve extending your portfolio, uncovering new revenue streams, or finding cross-sell/upsell opportunities within your existing customer base.
As Vendor Manager at Node4, my entire focus is on building relationships that move away from a supplier/customer relationship, coming to agreements that mutually benefit both our partners and ourselves.
Below I explain how you can best work with your partner to enjoy some of the benefits mentioned above.
Choose a partner with their own vendor relationships
If you’re at the stage where you’re choosing a partner, an important consideration is whether they have their own strong relationships with vendors. Your partner should be upholding accreditations and working collaboratively with vendors, showing the characteristics that I go on to talk about below.
As a result, they’ll be able to bring you a broader portfolio of solutions and the latest technical innovations. Here at Node4, we work with a number of vendors, among them Microsoft, NetApp, Cisco and Fortinet, to do exactly this!
Once you’ve entered a partnership, your next step is to take down the barriers.
Being inclusive on growth plans can help a small business to move to a well established market leader. If a careful selection process has been put in place, the right partner will want to jointly grow with you.
Sharing information and priorities with your partner does not mean that you throw open the accounting books and give them user IDs and passwords to your systems.
Appropriate vendor management practices provide only the necessary information at the right time to allow a partner to serve your needs better. It may include forecast information, new customer acquisition targets or changes in focus as a business.
Plan for success
With the barriers down, it's only right that we strategise and plan for success together.
It’s a step change for some to view a vendor as a partner, but it's crucial to look at how you can work together. It could be that you are both trying to crack the same vertical or customer space, and two heads are always better than one.
It's important to note that not all ventures will be successful, but taking time to get to know your partner gives you the best chance in building beneficial long term relationships. Who knows what benefits they can bring if you don't get to know and explore?
Align sales and marketing
Your partner won’t be sitting on their hands waiting for orders to roll in. They invest in teams of people to analyse verticals and key markets.
You could do all that yourself, but why not utilise your partner’s resource and truly align to messaging and sales focus where it fits?
This applies even more to partners with a global platform. They'll be pumping their messaging to your customers already. The average customer takes 11 interactions before placing an order, so if your partner is providing the messaging, follow their lead!
Manage product innovation
Adding to your portfolio and keeping your product and services fresh and exciting is key to growth. But it's important to evaluate stringently to bring in cutting edge, not bleeding edge.
It’s important to evaluate a new offering, seeking advice from your partner where necessary. This gives your business the reassurance that your teams have the correct skillsets to manage and support the technology, offering quality of service over profit.
The right kind of partnerships can really boost your business’ success. To understand how your business might fit into Node4, see our video.