We’ve been there too. We know the feeling.
You attend a conference or perhaps a networking event. You meet a Business Development leader or Director of Strategic Partnerships from a company that seems like a good fit to work with your company. Contact information is exchanged, there’s a firm handshake on the way out the door and a promise to follow-up.. You leave encouraged and schedule a call in the coming days. The call happens. You get all the details. And then you realize that all along, the entire conversation was about that person – the person you were so excited to speak to – getting access to your customers and clients for their own benefit. And what were you going to get in return? Not much. It wasn’t partnership they were after at all.
Finding the right partners in a managed services business can be a real challenge. With a seemingly infinite pool of potential customers to draw from, many companies put their own interests first and the interests of their partners a distant second. But have you ever stopped to wonder what makes a great partnership in the I/T space? And have you stopped to evaluate your own alliances to see if they align with the value you deliver to your clients and the values you uphold as a business?
Identifying Great Partners in the Managed Services Space
When looking for the right partnership in your business, it’s important to think beyond dollars and cents. In fact, we would argue that the money tends to take care of itself when your clients and customers are getting great value out of their relationship with you. Think of it like this: the supermarket doesn’t make much revenue or profit on selling limes to customers. But by offering limes in the first place, they can reduce the chance that a customer goes to the market across the street. You should view your offerings in much the same way. By providing clients with a comprehensive set of services and products, you can increase stickiness and gain more share of wallet.
However, being able to offer an extensive catalog on your own is an entirely different matter. Keeping hardware inventory can be expensive. Having technical expertise on staff for a niche technology can be impractical. The reality is that for even the largest IT providers, it is near impossible to solve every problem your clients might have. And that’s where partnerships come into play.
By having great strategic alliances with other providers, your product and service portfolio can expand by leaps and bounds in a very short timeframe. Here are five questions we like to ask when considering partnership in the technology space:
- Does this partner provide something that complements our own core offerings? Seems simple, but don’t be fooled. Many partner programs don’t actually fill in the gaps in your product portfolio. Instead, they say “yes” to every potential partnerships thinking that quantity is more important than quality. As a result, many IT service providers assemble an impossibly large catalog of “stuff” that creates more of a distraction and negative added value. No one, including your customers, need you to offer every available product and service imaginable. What they need is for your to offer the right products and services for their needs.
- Does the partner offer something that we can’t, won’t, or don’t offer on our own? It can be tempting to partner with companies that make it easier to sell goods and services without actually evaluating what those goods and services are. You don’t need six different AWS consultancies in your Rolodex; you need one really good one. In other words, focus on finding specific partners that fill in the gaps of what you do well and focus on making those relationships strong. Again, quality over quantity..and quality often comes down to working with people and companies that complement your offerings.
- Does this partnership advance the mission of our business? It is crucial that you examine if a potential partnership is heping drive a business outcome other than simply the bottom line. True, the financial component of your partnerships is of critical importance. But just as the mission statement of your business isn’t “make more money,” neither should the mission of your partnerships be simply to profit. Examine the core focus of your business, who you serve, and where you shine. Does this partnership amplify and enhance that value or create a distraction?
- Will this partner offer the necessary support for this to be a successful engagement? It’s important that both sides of a partnership recognize a signed agreement is the beginning, not the end-point. The best kind of partners provide resources, training, and regular communication to help you be successful. Access to sales engineers, regular account briefings, and co-branded marketing resources are also all indicators of good partnerships. For you to be successful as a partner, you must be treated as a partner…not as an extension of their supply chain.
- Does this partnership limit future potential or possibilities? Thinking about the future means more than just thinking about next quarter. Signing up for a partnership that precludes you or prevents you from aligning with other, potentially better, partners can be a double-whammy decision. And while predicting the future might be a fool’s errand, take care not to sign partner agreements that include levels of exclusivity or privacy that will prevent you from making smart decisions in the future. Again, partnerships exist to further both entities, not to restrict one in an unfair or onerous way.
Bringing it All Together In Partnership with Connectria
Far too often, “partnership” is just a fancy way of saying “bring us your customers and clients.” That’s why at Connectria we recognize that a partnership means all parties benefit. We invest in making sure our partners and their customers are getting outsized value out of their relationship with us.
Finding the right partners to work with in your MSP business isn’t just about generating more revenue. In fact, one could argue that strong alliances exist to help serve clients even better; the additional revenue is simply a byproduct of helping your clients. At Connectria we empower managed services providers and IT organizations by offering our deep expertise with advanced technology, like IBM iSeries, into their organizations in a seamless manner. These partnerships mean that their clients can get even more value from their chosen vendor; It means that the vendor, our partner, has access to a wealth of expertise and know-how that wouldn’t be possible to build out on their own.
To learn more about how Connectria can play a pivotal role in serving your clients and growing your business, contact us here. We’re always eager to work with service providers looking to expand their offerings and increase client engagement.