The partner community currently faces a significant challenge. This is the challenge of the cloud and how a traditional IT channel business can credibly enter the market.
There are scare stories in circulation with certain well-known businesses not performing as well, but there are even more positive examples of companies making strategic partnerships and delivering fantastic new services to their customers.
If you’ve decided that cloud services will complement your traditional service mix, what are the next steps?
Picking the right technology partners to complement the way you do business is daunting. It’s a crowded marketplace, and some businesses pop into existence and then disappear again. It can be difficult to balance the risks of a good value deal against the longevity they will have. At the end of the day, you do not want to begin any relationship that won’t keep your customers satisfied in the long term.
When creating a shortlist, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to consider. It’s a way of framing your search and third party service provider conversations to fast-track the best results.
As with business projects in any field, the standard rules apply. Know your budgets for required expenditure. Be clear on the resources available within the business and if they are liable to change. It should go without saying, but be crystal clear on the intended market for the services you’re looking to offer. If the services are new to your business then there are some detailed research and planning tasks ahead of you.
Do they fill a gap in your portfolio that you cannot meet yourself?
If there is an overlap between your services and your new partner’s then you risk losing full revenue opportunities for your own services. Only press ahead if the partner is a specialist in key services that fill a gap in your own offering, and it’s a gap you cannot or will not fill yourself in the foreseeable future.
Does their customer care experience match your own?
Pick a partner who has the same philosophy for customer experience. This shared experience will enable you to speak the same language and share the same goal, with no ambiguity. Ensure that you use the same terminology. In the cloud era customer segmentation is getting ever more complex, so it’s worth spending the time to ensure that both businesses pull together for the long term.
Do they show the flexibility you need?
How will your portfolio of services evolve? Are you planning to expand or integrate a programme of additions? Will you stay long term with the technology partner or chop-and-change? What about interoperability and working with your ecosystem – are there certain relationships that won’t work? Setting clear outlines of your standard and stretch requirement, or best case and worst case business scenarios will ensure that both parties are prepared for any eventuality and how to overcome it.
Do they fill you with confidence?
Carefully sift the evidence and ensure that they have satisfied the hardest heads within your business on every aspect of their organisation, services and commitment to shared goals. Excitement and enthusiasm alone can lead to misplaced confidence, so make sure your confidence is backed up.
Do your timelines match up?
Plan every step of the journey. Make sure that you will have support in place for when you need it to match your schedule, not theirs.
At the end of the day this is your route to delivering better customer service, retaining and attracting more customers. Keep that in mind above all else. If the relationship supports you in doing that better and ensuring your business will prosper, it just might be the right step.
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