Whether you’re launching a brand new partner program or growing an existing one, it’s important to know which questions to ask a potential partner before throwing your lot in with theirs.

In partnerships, quality is better than quantity.

The best partnerships are long-term relationships that function as two-way streets. Both you and your partners (and, of course, your customers!) need to benefit and profit from the relationship. Maintaining this kind of partnership takes time, energy, and resources, so it’s important to make sure that each partner or reseller is worth the investment.

A partner can have as much effect on your relationship with your end customer as an in-house employee. A bad customer experience with an accredited partner or reseller can really hurt your own reputation, so vet potential partners with as much effort as you would vet potential hires. It’s essential to make sure that your new partners are aligned with your own values and expectations.

Start your search for new partners by working out what your ideal partner looks like.

When beginning your search for partner candidates, it makes sense to start with the end customer in mind. Ask yourself which products your end customers buy alongside your own, which services they need to complement your product, how they like to make purchases, which companies they already buy from, what their monthly services and tech budgets are, and so on. The answers to these sorts of questions will give you a pretty good starting point for working out who your ideal partners are.

HubSpot suggests considering the following aspects when defining your ideal partner:

·  Does their product or service complement your own product?

·  Are their existing customers aligned with your own target market?

·  How much technical training and support will they need from you?

·  Can your product slot into their existing sales process relatively easily?

·  Would the benefits of the partnership justify the level of commitment needed for success?

Three important questions to ask a potential partner before making a final commitment.

Once you’ve identified and attracted a cohort of potential partners and resellers, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff. When interviewing potential candidates, we’ve come up with these three critical questions to ask a potential partner before embarking on a long-term relationship.

1. What are your expectations when working with a SaaS company?

When asking this question, evaluate aspects including things like whether the potential partner prefers a co-sell approach and who will sign the referral agreement. Discuss monthly sales quota expectations and get into the nitty gritty of which party is responsible for what when it comes to customer support, tech support, the sales process, and delivery of services. Be absolutely clear about what your expectations are of your partners; this is your chance to begin building a relationship with honest and transparent foundations.

2. Can you tell us more about your clients?

This broad question can be broken down in the following more specific questions:

·  What value does the partner bring to their clients?

·  Do they offer a particular service that differentiates them from their competitors?

·  Which types of issues do their customers experience?

·  How many invoices are they creating per month?

·  Are their clients making international payments?

·  What’s the average size of their customers’ organizations?

·  Is there any particular AP solution used by their customers? 

3. Can you provide further details about your organization?

Ask the potential partner to describe the account management and sales team structures. Ask for insights into the marketing resources they use, including information on how they communicate with prospects and clients. Find out as much as you can about their company culture and organizational values, too.

When formulating questions to ask a potential partner, don’t be shy to ask as many questions as you can. In the long run, it’s more profitable to focus on a smaller group of valuable, enduring partnerships than to find yourself struggling to manage a huge number of relationships with ill-matched affiliates.

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