Picking a Partner is Like Buying a Car
Kick the tires, so to speak, before you jump into your next vendor and technology partnerships.
- By Keith Lubner
- February 01, 2007
At the end of last year, all the car companies made a strong push to
sell their cars. They do this every year, but last year seemed to be extreme.
I guess their advertising worked, as I started looking into buying a new
This got me thinking. The process of researching a new car is very similar
to the process a partner needs to follow when researching a new relationship
with a vendor. Here are five things to keep in mind when researching vendors
and their technologies:
The first thing that typically attracts us to a new car is the
style of the car. The same thing applies when we're looking for that next
vendor to add to the portfolio. Does the product look like a nice complement
to your existing Microsoft lineup? Can you envision the product being
bundled with other Microsoft services and products of yours-possibly creating
a suite? Creating a "style" for your company will help you create
a niche and generate momentum.
2. Gas Mileage
While the V8, super turbo-charged SUV was downright cool, I would
probably find myself filling up the gas tank too often. So my research
pointed me toward a more efficient vehicle-like a hybrid or something
in between. With vendors, the super cool "Star Wars" technology
might seem appealing, but it might not be a rational choice. You'll probably
find yourself pouring too much "gas" (meaning resources and
money) into making the product work in client environments.
One of the car advertisements I saw was for a Bentley-a very nice
car but way out of my price range. On the surface, some vendors' products
may seem attractive, but their prices don't match up with your target
customers' budgets. A good example is enterprise resource planning (ERP).
Not a lot of partners can take on the bigger ERP products, but an increasingly
higher number of partners can take on the Microsoft ERP products (and
related products) because of the lower price points and the SMB target
I narrowed my search down to a few cars I thought would work well
for our family. However, I still needed to complete the most important
test of all-actually sitting in the vehicle and taking it for a test drive.
Style, gas mileage and affordability aside, if I didn't feel comfortable
with the ride, I was not going to buy the car. With vendors, everything
might seem rosy until you actually test drive the product. You need to
feel comfortable that the product or service works as planned, that your
people can implement it properly and that it will help you make money.
5. Resale Value
One of the most important criteria for me is a car's resale value. The
same applies to vendors' products. Determining if a product will be of
value to your organization is a difficult task. I recommend that partners
examine their current product lines in order to draw some conclusions
on what products provided real value to their organization over time.
When you chose your next vendor, align yourself to that category of products.
By taking time to research your next vendor relationship, as you would
when researching a new car, you'll increase the likelihood of success.
Keith Lubner is managing partner of Channel Consulting Corp., a N.J.-based global consulting organization focused on channel strategy, design, enablement, outsourcing and training for growing companies.