During almost two decades of business development deals and alliance formation, I’ve sat along side and across the table from word-class negotiators at companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Intel and Accenture. I’ve also made enough humbling mistakes to learn the hard, lasting way what helps and hinders successful negotiations.
With partnerships, as with much in life, what you get out is a function of what you put in. Properly equipping your partners to succeed, and to further your success in turn, is critical to a profitable partner program.
Business development is often said to be equal parts art and science, but that view can be used as cover for poor process and the unpredictable outcomes that result. It’s true that biz dev require flexibility and creativity, but planning and process are crucial to increasing the likelihood of success.
I recently met with the founders of a promising new SaaS startup. After listening to their pitch and a bit of Q&A, we began talking about growth strategies. They asked how soon we could begin helping them build a channel program. They have a promising product with a large, well defined market and a clear value proposition. Their packaging and pricing have been iterated and refined considerably. There’s just one problem: no customers.
Before jumping head-long into that partnership that’s sure to help you dominate your market, you should first consider a few key questions, the answers to which will determine if you’re ready to pursue the alliance, and how likely you are to meet its objectives if you do.