6 Lessons on Partner Management from ‘The Martian’

In the movie “The Martian,” Matt Damon’s character, Mark Watney, is teetering on the razor’s edge. He has extremely limited resources and one slip could be the difference between survival and failure. The same is true of many channel partners who teeter on the edge of business survival. As a vendor, understanding your partners’ economic needs and challenges, and creating and maintaining partner programs that take those vulnerabilities into account is critical to the success of both partners and vendors.

Following are six awesome quotes from “The Martian” that teach lessons that can help vendors recast their thinking on the dire straits many partners face, and how vendors can help make them most successful.

“I need to science the “Sh__” out of this to make this work.”

For most vendors, partner performance has been a black hole. Until now, there has been no way to cross the event horizon and see which partners are truly outperforming others, see what they’re doing that’s really working, and let them work together to maximize their mutual performance and invest where it makes the most difference. Vendors need to use the science – the technology – that today’s PRMs make available to them to manage the “sh__” out of their partners and accelerate their indirect sales. The tools are out there.

“It’s been seven days since I ran out of ketchup” (Watney said as he dipped his potatoes in crushed Valium)

Partners are trying to survive, and they’re tired. Everyone, including competitors, is at their doors – tempting them with a way to be more profitable and to have a better experience. If you are a vendor, and you have not invested in ensuring that your customer experience is helping make hard days easier, watch out for your competitors who have. If they are more appealing and more profitable to do business with, act fast, or it may be too hard to “ketchup.” An enjoyable experience matters, and the tougher the circumstances, the more it matters.

“None of it matters if I can’t make contact with NASA.”

The best partner program in the world won’t work unless you can communicate effectively with your partners. You need a way to reach them and you need to know your messages were transmitted – and received. Do you have a “to channel” communications system, one that makes sure your valuable partners have the information they need to sell your products, take advantage of the deals that enhance their profitability, and help you amplify your marketing voice to the market? If you don’t, if you can’t make contact, nothing you do will save them.

“You don’t have six or nine months; you have three.”

We all want more time to solve problems, but rarely do we get it. On the ground, the teams trying to save Watney wanted more time to create a solution, but the window to save him wouldn’t allow it. When it comes to partners and profitability, nine months is an eternity. Even three months is a luxury. When they sign on to a new partner program, every month and every day they can speed their journey through a rapid onboarding and a fast ramp to profitability, the better their chances of reaching orbit and generating revenue. Long, convoluted sign-on processes that keep them from a successful launch are deadly for everyone. Automating operational basics like onboarding is mission critical.

“You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”

In the movie, Watney says, “At some point, everything’s going to go south on you.” That’s often the case with business. And even if things don’t go south, they will most certainly change. Countries will have turmoil and you may need to consolidate regions, economies may rise and fall, you may decide to change your organizational structure, a competitor may introduce a major new threat, and so on. These challenges never stop, but (and pay attention here) successful businesses never stop evolving to meet those challenges. The most successful channel programs will be nimble enough to flex with these changes and be able to modify their channel programs in real time so their partners don’t suffer through long delays. If the solutions you use require long IT programming delays before your business systems can be adjusted to meet evolving needs, it’s time to rethink the tools you’re using before you find yourself stuck on Mars.

"Go faster than any man in the history of space travel.”

To leave Mars, Watney had to jettison major chunks of the spacecraft that would take him into orbit – or he would be too slow. At some point, the same is true for your partner program. No matter how “valuable” some partners feel, at the end of the day, despite your best efforts, if they aren’t performing -- they’re slowing you down, and it’s best to cut them loose. It’s a scary move, but ultimately, leaner partner organizations with the right partners, not the most partners, are the ones that are most successful and accelerate their performance most quickly.

Dave R. Taylor is CMO of Impartner, the world’s largest and most award-winning partner relationship management solution. Visit www.impartner.com to learn more about how Impartner’s PRM solutions help leading companies worldwide help their partners’ survive, thrive and prosper in today’s market, regardless of market conditions.

Comments are closed