It is wise to think about where the market is going over the next few years and position yourself in blue oceans before anyone else. You can stay ahead of the game by proactively following new industry trends and incorporating innovative solutions to your portfolio. When it comes to networking, you might think about trends including automation, orchestration, SD-WAN, Wi-Fi 6, cybersecurity, or even API gateways.
Within this list of trends you can identify potential product categories that complement your current offer and service lineup, and which — if you find the right product and partner — you could bundle and use to grow your business.
Once you have identified the most suitable trends, the next step is to look for solutions to existing and emerging customer needs. The most obvious way to do this is Google, but it is also interesting to look at IT marketplaces and review sites such as Capterra, GetApp, G2, and Software Advice.
If your customer is using a specific vendor technology, such as Cisco or Meraki, look for partner solutions already integrated and validated by vendors (e.g., the Meraki Marketplace).
To do this, the best thing you can do is have an introduction meeting, where you have a chance to get a real sense of your prospective partner’s business and understand if their products are a good fit for yours.
Some topics to discuss in this call include yours and the partner’s goals, ICP, customer needs, technologies, and competencies. You should share as much as possible about your business and objectives, and ask how their portfolio and solutions can contribute to achieve your company goals.
It is advisable to come prepared — have a list of questions ready and involve key stakeholders in the conversation. If you are going to meet multiple prospective partners, it is ideal to have some kind of objective framework to measure them against to ensure you make the best decision for your business.
And if all goes well, you may even get into the next phase of the discussion — understanding how a relationship would work on an operational level.
On an operational level, what would the collaboration look like? It is important to identify stakeholders, contact people, support mechanisms, sales and marketing material that you can leverage, product training, customer support and who is responsible for what.
Good partners typically have a range of initiatives to help their VARs, such as regular product training demos, newsletters, and partner events. At Boundless, we have a Partner Portal in which we give access to promotional documentation, training videos, support information and contact links. Initiatives such as these ensure seamless collaboration, and means reseller partners including VARs have all the collateral to answer their customer needs through the sales cycle.
We strongly advise to have regular catch-up calls with your partner to review objectives, discuss unmet needs and potential solutions, and get an update on the latest company news. This will have a range of benefits for both parties and your customers.
As a VAR, you may be closer to the target market than your partner, and have key insights into the challenges faced by your customers and how these are evolving. This is critical information for the partner’s product, and by sharing this information with your partner, you may be able to get the products you need to generate more business from your customers. Furthermore, if your customers are asking for one specific product and you are one of the few to sell it, your sales growth will accelerate.
The best partnerships will include specific ways for VARs to be involved in the product roadmap, and will offer flexibility to adapt to customer needs and help close deals. For example, at Boundless we not only offer off-the-shelf solutions, but also offer custom development services to match specific customer needs and help our partners close new deals.
Generating and nurturing leads can be easier and faster if both parties play to their strengths and leverage their respective social audiences. Ask your solutions partner if they organize co-marketing initiatives.
At Boundless, for instance, we collaborate with our reseller partners to create co-branded promotional material, as well as articles and videos. We have also organized and participated in expert and promotional webinars with our partners.
Other initiatives you might consider are co-presenting or having a combined presence at industry events, or co-writing ebooks or other content for lead generation.
Sustainable pricing means that both parties make money, and there should always be room to renegotiate terms if the situation changes and it works in both parties’ favor. Partners usually offer a range of discounts and rebates based on volume. Yearly meetings are a good moment to review objectives and renegotiate the terms of the partnership.
While closing deals is key, there are many ways to measure partnership success.
For example, in terms of marketing metrics, you may look at website traffic and/or leads generated from co-marketing activities, and whether they came in from yours or your partner’s channels. In terms of sharing customer feedback, you may be providing valuable input into the product roadmap.
It’s important to leverage the revenue made through different opportunities and approaches: upsell, new business, retention, and new offers. Hitting targets is key, but it is also important to track the momentum.
Measuring success is important both to keep your partnership on track, but also to know where you stand in terms of renegotiating your partnership contract. For example, if you are beating targets, you will be in a stronger position to negotiate more favorable terms, as a partner is likely to be willing to forgo a little margin in exchange for the greater volume you are closing.
Building relationships with the right partners can dramatically accelerate your business growth and help you deliver far greater value to your customers. But it’s critical to approach potential partners methodically and objectively, without either party over-promising and under-delivering, or failing to maintain good communication, or offering the right support. A strong partnership maintained in the right way can pay dividends for both parties and your customers for many years to come, so building a strong foundation is worth the investment.
To find out more about the possibilities of becoming a Boundless VAR partner, visit our Partner Page.