In this blog we move on to discuss the Partner Recruitment Process.

 “What really matters in a networked age? Relationships.”

Reid Hoffman

How did you find your first partner?

‘How did you find your first partner?’ ‘Well, I met this guy on a plane. He thought our solution would be great in the Netherlands, so we struck a deal. The partner did well for the first 8 months, then…’

Earlier in this series of blogs, I used this as an example of how partnerships often develop. But wouldn’t it be better if you had a process for attracting and recruiting the right partners? A process that ensures you recruit the best partners for you?

Do you need a process?

If you are recruiting partners, you will have a process: even if it’s ad-hoc and driven by personal preferences. Having a defined process and clear documentation will save you time in the short-term and money in the long-term.

Companies often struggle with partner recruitment. They end up with a long list of communications materials and content that never quite communicate: a) what they need from the partner, and b) what they are offering the partner in return. The solution is to create a ‘to partner’ communications document. We call it a Partner Prospectus. This approach helps your organisation to clarify the ‘to partner’ proposition and reduces engagement time with valuable partners and wasted time with unsuitable ones.

Once prospects are identified, a Partner Qualification tool ensures the right partners are recruited. It also allows anyone in your organisation to select the right target and determine whether the investment is justified.

What else is required?

The Partner Recruitment Process enables organisations to attract and contract with suitable partners. We split the process of forming partnerships into two parts: Partner On-boarding and Partner Enablement. On-boarding is the commercial process of contracting and communicating the business engagement rules. Enablement, which I’ll cover in a later post, moves the relationship to the optimum level. The on-boarding process is normally led internally. However, objective external reviews, facilitation and additional resources speed progress and ensure that important issues are quickly resolved.

What’s the benefit of a Partner Recruitment Process?

Ideally, you will want to proactively choose your partners. So you need to target your chosen partners and attract them, rather than just signing up companies that are easy to contact, or which approach you.

Reducing the cost and time of selecting/creating/qualifying partnerships isn’t just a good thing for your own business. It also prevents the partner from receiving a poor impression of your organisation.

What are the key activities?

Partnership Framework - Partner RecruitmentProspectus: Creating a guide for the prospective partner that outlines the solutions and benefits of partnering, and also what you need from a partner.

Micro-site: Creating a website is optional but can be beneficial if you are recruiting a large number of partners or they are geographically hard-to-reach.

Qualification: An assessment tool for qualifying prospective partners – in or out.

On-boarding: The execution, typically over time, of the tasks required to engage with partners contractually, in terms of both process and relationship.

In future posts I’ll delve into other parts of the Partnership Framework. For an introduction, read the Introducing the Partnership Framework post.