Not long ago, we published a blog post on the topic of Five Reasons to Engage a Partner (while you’re waiting to hire the perfect Eloqua Marketing Expert).
Those reasons included:
- Multi-faceted expertise – the kind that no single person could bring to your department.
- The ability to get a lot of work done quickly.
- Peace of mind from working with a partner that’s been “tested in real life” and has a great reputation.
- An opportunity for “informal” training for your whole department, based on the partner’s expertise.
- Gain access to broad perspective on what can be done with Eloqua.
But there are disadvantages to working with partners, and we’d like to share what those are, and how you can mitigate them.
Disadvantage #1: Partners don’t spend most of their time in your office
The single largest disadvantage of working with any partner or consultant, is that they usually don’t spend most of their time in your office. That means they lose opportunities to have high-bandwidth face to face conversations with those in the office, possibly including you! Of course in today’s world of distributed locations, work from home, and Webex/GoToMeeting, this is often happens even with an employee.
But still it’s a good issue to mitigate if you can. Here’s a few ideas:
- Spend a bit on travel and request that the partner expert visit you on site every 3-6 months (or more!) so that they and everybody has the benefit of at least some time together and getting to know each other.
- Use video! With today’s internet speeds and cameras now in every computer, pad and phone, it’s really easy to add video to your conversations.
- Setup quarterly one-on-one meetings. Just as you would with an employee, find 30 minutes once a quarter to give some feedback. Don’t just provide feedback to the company. Provide feedback to the specific person working with you. It’s amazing what even a little feedback can do!
- Maintain an executive-to-executive connection with the partner organization. Make sure that you have somebody higher-up on your team who has spoken with (or better yet, met in person) an executive on your team and that both agree to connect about how thing are going every month or two. A relationship like this bridges the connection between the companies at a higher level, and provides more ROI and a “bigger picture” than lower level relationships typically do.
Naturally there are many more management methods you can use, but the ones we’ve listed here can help you to greatly enhance a partner relationship.
Disadvantage #2: Expense (or perceived expenses)
It may seem as if “partners don’t come cheap”. And in the current environment, where hiring is difficult, partners too are “in demand”.
But with that said, one of the best ways to mitigate the initial costs of working with a partner is to plan thoroughly and negotiate for quantity discounts.
Some partners can steeply discount their services if:
- You only need basic “operations” services like segmentation, email sends and landing page creation
- You buy a significant number of hours, for a long enough time.
Of course both of those items often come into play. So don’t forget to ask, “Do you offer quantity discounts for a certain number of hours or for certain types of services?” Even if a company doesn’t have a formal policy in this area (and 4Thought Marketing does), an informal one can often be created to better suit both the Eloqua Partner and yourself.
A technology-savvy partner can help you through periods when you’re short-handed, and they can even become a longer-term adviser that you can rely on through the ups and downs of normal business cycles. They can provide a kind of consistency that you may not be able to find in a volatile hiring market.