Once a company defines its partner strategy and picks which target markets to pursue with partners, the next challenge becomes execution. I am sure you have seen companies spend a lot of money trying to add a partner in a new market only to shut it down 12 months later with no results. It does not have to be this way, but it happens way too often.
Partnering is an excellent method to grow your business, but many partner programs fail to produce results, or simply never get implemented. And simply put, how do we even know we are selecting the best partner to capture that specific market opportunity?
This is where a tool could help to identify and qualify partners and their unique strengths and weaknesses, guide you in making the most effective decision, and drive the implementation of the agreement so that all parties win without wasting a lot of time and money! This tool, the Partner Scorecard, has been tested and vetted in live business situations. It works. Here is how you can apply it to your business.
‘Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.
Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.’
The Art of War
The example partner scorecard I am sharing with you is the result of work at my past companies, where we wanted to expand a technology software and services business aggressively into new markets by partnering with local players in those markets. Within 2 years, we signed up a significant number of partners and started generating revenue in several international markets where we had no revenue prior. But we could not have done this successfully without implementing the Partner Scorecard and managing the related process.
Example Partner Scorecard
First, the Partner Scorecard can be used to screen partners. By defining the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) that we want in advance, we can objectively evaluate potential partners against those criterion, on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is an excellent match, and 1 and 2 are both concern areas that must be addressed before taking on that partner.
In this Scorecard example, there are 8 Critical Success Factors we have identified. So, there is a maximum score of 40 points (8x5pts) for each partner. And our scores are between 30 and 32, with several 1’s and 2’s. Note that an agreement cannot be signed with any partner if there are any scores of 1 or 2 and there has not been an approved plan detailing how we will improve those low scores.
The bottom half of the scorecard shows your progress against the partner sales process, and can include dates milestones have been accomplished, including agreement with the partner on quota. This part of the scorecard keeps key milestones in front of us and visible, outlines the schedules in the contract that are related to each item, and pushes us toward a successful execution. We want to see the partner and our company sales leader agree together on the business plan for quota achievement and how we will address any low scores – before the contract is signed!
‘Our success over the years at Microsoft has been based on partnerships.’
A partner can give you access to a new customer base, new products, new verticals and new geographies. They can help you dramatically increase the growth of your company. It is a fantastic way to expand into new markets. But you know if you have tried it before, that partnering can take significant time and effort to put in place, and there are costs that will be incurred in the setup and implementation of a partner – all before you close the first order with them!
Bottom line: The Partner Scorecard is a tested, proven tool that can help systematically and objectively evaluate partners who can help you penetrate new markets. If you can discipline yourself to utilize the Partner Scorecard as a tool in your partnering process, and use it to execute on the milestones to sign partners, you will be applying proven steps that can help take your business all the way to the top!