Member Joe Budelli Speaks: For Strong Partnerships, Engage Your Tactical Players!

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by a CEO looking to establish a channel partner with a bigger player, nominally in the same space. The pitch was a cross-sell deal where each sells part of the other’s solution.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

Driving stronger partnerships is often a matter of incentivizing the tactical players involved – and the tactical players in the businesses they serve, too. And the place to start is in the trenches. That’s where relationships that are truly mutually beneficial typically begin.

This deal could bring a lot of business to your company. However, arguing in the boardroom about whether you charge 70% or 50% or 20% is shooting in the dark. If I were you, I’d think deeply about who will actually do the tactical work. Assemble a joint task force with key tactical players from both companies and set MBO’s for the individuals and the group at large. Start with specific and small target markets to obtain preliminary results. These will elucidate whether the partnership makes business sense for both parties. If it does, then roll out the partnership initiative to your entire sales force and directly incentivize them with compensation or quota. Effective incentives for your sales people represent the real fuel in the relationship. Without it, your partnership is dead in the water.

I’ve been involved in such arrangements for 25 years, and I understand the challenge of negotiating deals with no precedence. Oftentimes, I present three potential models to the partner and openly discuss them. You can even allow them to choose. It’s the old adage: if you want to share a cookie, split it in half and let the other side pick. If you’ve pinpointed specific incentives that will drive participation from both of your teams, you are creating a recipe for enduring success.