To Have Better Partners, Focus First Internally

Most of you already know we focus a lot on partnering skills. Partnering is the name of the game when it comes to indirect sales channel management. You need to find distributor partners (or other channel partners) that are the right fit, and manage those relationships effectively to get great sales results.

But much of our work focuses on internal partnering skills. Why?


Because you simply cannot partner well with outside companies unless you partner effectively among the teams and functions within your own company.

You see, partners are quite smart.  They figure out pretty quickly where there are gaps in your policies, or where there’s dissension and a lack of clarity among your internal staff.

Just like children quickly figure out how to divide and conquer Mom and Dad, partners learn that they get the answers they want by going to certain people.  They know how to get around people they’ve learned aren’t responsive, or don’t make timely decisions.  Or they figure out where they can slack off because they’re not really held to any KPIs with any real consequences.

They will divide and conquer you, even if they are run by very nice people.

Another common problem when your internal teams aren’t aligned is that you become needlessly frustrating for them to deal with.   Your distributor wants special pricing or special credit terms, but the finance team just won’t get back to you because of differing priorities and no clear policies on response times. Your logistics provider wants authorization to return a damaged shipment, but customer service isn’t providing clarity on whether this is OK, or how to do it.

Maybe there is even open hostility between various functions. A colleague in one of the business units of a very large, highly-respected corporation admits that he actively looks for ways to circumvent certain functions.  He’ll hire external advisors, or end-run them, because they are either too unreliable or too difficult to deal with.

And if you don’t think external partners can sense this, you’re kidding yourself.  It’s not a good look.

So, to have effective external partnerships, companies need to make sure they partner well within their organizations first.

How do you do that?  Engage other key functions, using a structured and facilitated process.  We have a validated process called Partnering Intelligence.  We’re happy to talk about this process with you.  But please, even if you don’t use ours, use a framework, and work through the issues.  Develop and enhance your partnering skills.

Your distributor partner results will improve dramatically.  We guarantee it.

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