Key to success is strong partnerships

I'm often asked what separates Astaro from other network security and UTM vendors. Of course the underlining technology separates the Astaro Security Gateway from other products but this alone is not what separates Astaro from other companies. What makes Astaro stand apart are our partnerships and how we approach the partner relationship. Below are some tips for nurturing strong partnerships that have helped Astaro create a successful partner program.

Partnerships are about more than sales
While the ultimate goal of any business partnership is creating sales opportunities, there is more to a successful partnership than sending potential leads to your partners. Vendors should know that developing a knowledgeable channel and providing support are a key part of creating a successful partnership.

Offer training
Ensuring your partners possess a deep understanding of your company's products is crucial, yet not enough to create a successful partnership. They need to understand the industry, the specific needs of target markets and how your technology solves those needs as well as know the differentiators between your products and your competitors'. Most companies provide new partners with basic product information, collateral and some key facts that will aid in the sales process when organizations become a partner but this initial education is not enough. Vendors should create periodic product and sales training sessions to ensure partners have a deep understanding about changes in the industry, products and even competitive messages. Among these training sessions should be a session regarding the sales processes and tactics. The sales training sessions should discuss tactics for selling to particular industries as well as responses to common objections.

Offer REAL support
In addition to sales training, marketing and public relations support will help foster a successful partnership. Many partners do not have the resources to dedicate towards creating collateral, marketing emails, press releases and other marketing/public relations materials. The vendor organization can help their partners be more successful by offering marketing and public relations services.

Of course offering such services is mutually beneficial. For example, if the vendor was to issue a press release about a new customer a partner signed this would benefit both the partner and the vendor by providing name recognition and demonstrating that the product the partner is trying to sell is used by organizations in a particular industry. The same goes for marketing materials. Providing partners with emails to be used in marketing efforts allows the partner to focus on selling products rather than marketing them.

In the end providing these services is win-win. The vendor should also provide dedicated partner sales support. When the partner is having difficulty closing a deal or needs information to help initiate a conversation with a potential customer they should be able to call the vendor and speak to an individual they have an ongoing professional relationship with. This will create a better relationship and thus a more successful partnership.

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You Can Learn More About the Astaro Internet Security Product Line By Going to www.FirewallShop.com/Astaro.

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About the Author: Shannon Lewis

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