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Please Don't let your salespeople go out there with "Partnerships"​ in their title.

One thing I believe causes a lot of problems is when someone uses the word "Partner" incorrectly.

One thing I believe causes a lot of problems is when someone uses the word "Partner" incorrectly.

I know why... it sounds much better than "Buy this from me." or "Please sell this for me."

Regardless, we have to stop using "Partner" when we mean "Customer" or "Affiliate." This causes misuse of titles for employees who are clearly salespeople. And, don't let your salespeople go out there with "Strategic Partnerships" as a title. It will annoy people and create countless hours of wasted time.

First - Don't call your affiliate program a "Partner Program."

Here's example copy from a "Partner" landing page of a tech company I spoke with recently:

"{{company}} Partner Program

Find out how you can generate recurring revenue while helping businesses grow online using {{company}}.

We’re open to partnerships across all industries, to help better the online digital space.

Agency Partner

To improve your client’s performance, we can offer {{company}} as a unique tool for agencies.

Media Partner

Using {{company}} data, we can provide media partners with unique content and insight for their website.

Technology Partner

We can connect {{company}} to existing software systems. Our data team can integrate elements of {{company}}."

A few things you may have spotted:

  • There is no mention of what this company will do to support the growth of any of these target "partner" types.
  • They only thing they mention/offer is recurring revenue for the partner to sell their product.
  • Everything else mentioned is a value prop of their software (cool?) - not something they reciprocate in return.

I suggested they:

  1. Change the word "Partner" to say "Affiliate."
  2. Make this funnel completely automated - connect to an affiliate tracking solution for this traffic to register and use unique links to get commissions.
  3. Then, take the completely free Agency Partnerships Foundations course to learn what is needed to call your program a "Partner Program."

It's doubtful they will adjust, which means that those entering this "Partner" program probably have never been in a real partnership with another tech. And they will end up leaving for the competitor who does support them in building a business on top of their solution.

Second - Make sure your sales team is not using the word "partner" in their outreach to users...

This happened to me last week - a salesperson asked if I wanted to "partner with us." So, I pressed him to ask for a sales call instead. It took him until this morning to admit he was not looking for partners, but the damage to his actual partner team rep is already done. He even goes as far to have the title of "Strategic Partnerships".

If you have a salesperson approaching people with a "partnership" proposition, stop them.

Salesperson:

[Connect add note] Hi Alex I would love to connect and add you to my professional network. Warm regards

Salesperson:

[Automated second response message] Hi Alex Thank you for connecting! It's awesome to have you as part of my network. I trust all is well with you and that the current situation isn't affecting your business too adversely. Just a quick intro from me. I head up strategic partnerships at Leads Fetched and I would like to offer you an opportunity to increase your business's revenue. It looks like we might be able to help you open a few doors on the business development side over the next few months, so I wondered if you might have a few minutes to run through my logic. Any chance I could grab you for a quick chat on Tuesday or Thursday, it will literally be 15 minutes. How’s your diary for those days?

Me:

Sales is the antithesis of “partnerships”. So you can’t partner with someone you’re trying to sell to. Which is it?

Salesperson:

Hi Alex, Well, our approach is that of "how can we possibly help each other". Not trying to sell you anything, only want an opportunity to chat so we can establish how we can help your business grow. Let me know if you would be available for a quick chat? We may just be able to exchange valuable ideas that would benefit both of us... I hope to hear from you soon

Salesperson:

I guess the question is - is your approach purposed to sell something - charge me for services?

Our call will take about 15 minutes, depending on you. That will cost you absolutely nothing.

Me:

Ok... humor me... after this call, is the next step to present pricing?

Salesperson:

ok...

That all depends if you would be interested in making use of any services we offer, I would obviously present pricing😎

Me:

Well then why use the phrase “I head up Strategic Partnerships...” if your agenda is not to partner strategically but to sell and provide a service?

Salesperson:

Strategic Partnership is my main focus. Offering you a service, is an optional extra. Connection and networking is really what it's all about, same as with you. I have no hidden agenda, Alex

But feel free to draw your own conclusions on the matter. If the wording in my message offends you, feel free to remove yourself from my network. You are not forced to be a part of it.

Me:

It doesn’t offend me. But I work with strategic partnerships leads whose jobs are made more difficult when salespeople try to get in the door using the phrase “partner with your org”. If you are trying to sell something, just say you’d like to show me a demo. Leave “partner” out of it bcs in truth it doesn’t apply to this relationship.

Salesperson:

I understand. The thing is, we do partner with teams to assist them in their client acquisition process. We also sell the pipeline as a product

Me:

But "assist" is not free, correct? It's not a free reciprocal relationship. You are providing a service for a fee, correct?

Salesperson:

Hi Alex, Thank you for your response, I appreciate your engagement. Please keep us in mind so we could help you generate quality leads for your business in the future! All the best to you and your team for the year.

Me:

...which is a sales conversation, so just say that to start. Please.


Here's the breakdown:

1. He starts off mentioning: "I head up strategic partnerships"

- Sales is the antithesis of partnerships.

2. Then he makes it clear with a typical sales line: "opportunity to chat so we can establish how we can help your business grow."

- Ok, now the conversation is clearly not about partnering.

3. He asks for a call with no respect or reciprocation for my time: "But then, Our call will take about 15 minutes, depending on you. That will cost you absolutely nothing."

- Why would I take my time to talk to you when you have already abused it by claiming you want to partner?


4. Then, he finally gets to the point: "interested in making use of any services we offer,"

5. I ask why he called this a "Strategic Partnerships" conversation? "Strategic Partnership is my main focus. Offering you a service, is an optional extra."

- Not at all. You want to book a demo to show me a product to buy. Stop beating around the bush!

6. This is where I get annoyed: "We do partner with teams to assist them in their client acquisition process."

- Your product or service value to my org is not in any way a partnership. The "partnership" has nothing to do with your product.

7. And after two days of chatting, he finally tells me what he is "Selling": "...so we could help you generate quality leads for your business."


The point is, don't pretend. Be honest about what you are offering and make sure your sales teams focus on selling a product/service, your marketing teams build demand for that product/service, BUT - your "Partnerships" team and program are focused on how they can help their partners create a business out of the partnership with that team.


Join Partnerhub to meet actual partners and make this a part of your growth agenda next quarter.

Alex Glenn

CEO

Founder and CEO of Partnerhub. Proud father. And proud of what our team has built!