How are you setting clear Expectations with the partners you sell with?

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­When I was running NetApp and Veeam Software in Canada, we did most of our business through channel partners. In fact, Veeam did 100% of its business through alternate channels.

As a result of all this collaboration, the sales teams got pretty good at working with partners, and the deal registration process usually went pretty well… until it didn’t.

And when things went sideways, they got ugly in a hurry, and usually for the exact same reason.


Expectations around who was going to do what in the sales campaign, usually weren’t set very well.

Often each party assumed the other would do way more than they actually signed up for. And so inevitably, someone was always disappointed, and in the partner business, that’s never a good thing.

By the time things bubbled up to me, there was already a lot of tension and frustration in the system.

I would always ask the same question of my sales team

Where’s the roles and responsibilities email you exchanged with the partner just before accepting the deal registration?

If the reps had done their job well, there would have been a very quick email exchanged between the reps that outlined what each partner would do.

For example, one partner would introduce the other to key decision-makers or the key contacts in the procurement department. Or one partner would host an executive briefing, or one partner would write the RFP response with minimal assistance. You get the idea.

I would tell my reps to take 5 minutes and craft an email outlining the reasons they wanted to partner in the first place.  

I wasn’t looking for a legal document

Just a quick email summary exchanged between the two sales teams confirming what was agreed to in the registration process.

Usually, when the agreement existed, it took all the steam right out of the conversation, and everyone remembered why they partnered in the first place. 

If there was no email agreement, it was always a good, all be it, painful coaching conversation.

If your team is not putting together roles and responsibilities emails before they agree to partner, they’re leaving themselves open to misaligned expectations. 

It only takes five minutes

Trust me: it will be the best 5 minutes they spend and will save you a ton of stress and frustration should things go off the rails with your partner.

Try it; your partners will appreciate the extra effort!

Great selling

– Jeff 

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