You’ve done your research and selected the right channel partners to build out your channel ecosystem. But how much do you really know about channel partner relationships? The fastest way to partner satisfaction is by building and maintaining your relationship with them. And satisfied channel partners perform at higher efficiency, which in turn will give you greater ROI and market share. So besides Googling them or stalking their social media, how do you build a rock-solid connection with your channel partners? We have compiled some questions to ask your channel partner leads and their respective teams so you can be truly aligned. Granted, you don’t have to ask every question, but it’s definitely a way to get the conversation started. Also, make sure to ask follow-up questions such as “Tell me more about that,” or “Can you provide an example?” when applicable. Now let’s play 20 Questions!
How long have you been in business?
- Since you are already in this partnership and this is information you should already know, consider this an icebreaker to get the conversation started.
What are your business goals?
- Again, you should have some ideas about your partner’s business goals, but now you can prompt for further detail.
How much do you and your team know about our products/services?
- This is a great question to find out how much training and support you need to provide your partner and their team.
What other vendors have you worked with?
- Channel partners often work with more than one vendor. It is good to know the former and current vendors your partner engages with, especially if they are your direct competition.
What is your competitive edge?
- You want to know what keeps this channel partner head and shoulders above the competition. Look for synergies here!
What do you do for fun or to relieve stress?
- Find out what your partner does to let their hair down or their techniques for combatting stress. Personal questions help build channel partner relationships as they show your interest in partners’ personal well-being as well as the business.
What offline and online systems do you use?
- To bring ease to your partnership, you want to find out which systems your channel partners rely on so you can find synergies and compatible software and hardware systems. This is where you could suggest a partner portal if you don’t already have one implemented.
What is your preferred method of communication?
- It is important to know which mediums and methods your channel partner uses for communication so you can be further aligned. Follow-up questions can be: How do you communicate with your team? Your customers?
What are your preferred timelines for operation?
- Everyone does not conduct business on the same schedule, and you need to know your channel partners’ timelines for delivering your products and services.
What incentives drive your team’s performance?
- This will give you a head start on establishing any channel partner incentive rewards programs.
How do you keep your team engaged?
- A highly engaged team is a high-performing team. If your channel partner’s team is lacking engagement, that can negatively impact your channel structure. With this question, you can also gauge your channel partner’s ability to effectively lead their team.
What is your process for giving and receiving feedback?
- You want to know the methods and regularity of providing constructive feedback to one another. Also, you want to gauge who is giving the feedback – is it just from the top down or is there an open forum for everyone on the team to render feedback.
What would you consider your greatest strengths? Greatest weaknesses?
- You want to hear straight from the horse’s mouth what they think they do well and where they have room for improvement. This creates an opportunity for you to glean from their strengths and provide input to help them overcome weaknesses.
What aspect of your business would you like to improve?
- Every business has room for improvement, and you want to hear directly from your channel partner what they wish to improve.
What aspect of your business do you consider a best practice?
- You want to know what this channel partner does well enough to consider a best practice. This may be an opportunity to find better ways to conduct your operations.
What tasks do you dread doing as it relates to your industry?
- Everybody has something they would rather offload or outsource, but circumstances may prevent that from being a reality. Nevertheless, find out from your channel partners what proverbially makes their skin crawl. You never know, you may be able to provide a solution.
What regrets do you have as it relates to your industry? What would you do differently?
- Everyone has regrets and, if given the opportunity, would welcome a chance for a do-over. If you don’t feel comfortable asking this as-is, you can switch it up and ask “If you had it to do all over again, what would you do differently?”
What about your business or this industry keeps you up at night?
- You want to find out what causes your partner stress. You never know, you may be able to offer suggestions for relief. This indicates your level of investment toward the channel partner relationship.
What suggestions do you have, if any, to improve the efficiency and performance of our channel ecosystem?
- Your partner has a fresh set of eyes and may be able to offer suggestions to improve or streamline your system. Keep an open mind.
What have I not asked about your business that you think I should know?
- This is a “catch all” question to cover anything you may not have possibly asked. Hopefully by this point, you have built enough trust and rapport with your partner for them to share the unknown about their organization.