I'm not sure I can count the number of partner programs that I've seen fail. Usually it's the manufacturer's fault because of someones grandiose expectations of leverage from a channel that never existed. No doubt the manufacturers job is to build great products and create demand for them. And the channels job is to fulfill the demand.
Here are some of the misconceptions (lies) of partner programs.
- The other company has APIs so that integrating will be easy. Integration is always hard. Take whatever your first estimate is and double it to be safe.
- Not only is integrating easy, co-marketing will be too. Take whatever your doubled estimated time to integrate and double that to get the co-marketing launched.
- Your challenge will be scaling up fast enough. I’ve never seen scaling up be the gating item on a distribution deal.
- Your partner’s challenge will be scaling up fast enough too. I’ve never seen this be the gating item either.
- You understand what your partner wants. If it’s anything besides “additional revenue,” you’re missing the boat.
- “We’re forming a cross-functional team to ensure the success of this project.” This ensures that no one is responsible for the success of the partnership, nor is there anyone who’s going to take the blame. Instead, you want the large company to identify one “champion” for the partnership. One champion is always better than one cross-functional team.
- You can cut a deal with a Fortune 1000 company because a board member knows someone there.This is possible. It just won’t happen before you’re fired for missing your sales projections.