Having a relationship with your partner is like having a relationship with your significant other. It’s stressful when you have conflicts and those conflicts aren’t always as simple as who was supposed to walk the dog. They’re more complicated, can involve multiple people, and don’t have a solution that makes everyone happy.
Here’s a scenario. You’ve got two partners. Both partners have been in your partner program for a while. Partner A is a highly engaged partner who registers a large number of deals with you. Partner B is not as engaged and has only registered a few deals since the beginning of their contract.
Today, both partners have registered a deal for the exact same company. What do you do? Which partner should you give the deal to? Should you give the deal to a partner? What factors should you consider? What conflict resolution strategies should you use? No matter what happens, one of your partners is going to be upset. This is the type of conflict that can make or break your relationship.
This is a common channel conflict scenario. Knowing what factors you should consider and what kinds of conflict resolution strategies you can apply will give you more tools to make your decision.
Factors to Consider
- The customer
How much you focus on the customer will depend on what type of partnership you have. If your partners are just selling to your customer and the customer is coming to you for product support, then you’ll want to make sure that your potential customer doesn’t get frustrated with you and your partners.
On the other hand, if your partners are the ones selling to and servicing your potential customer, then you’ll want to remind them that the potential customer should be their priority and that winning over the customer is what they should be focusing on more than the conflict with the other partner. This will matter more in a scenario where your potential customer is contacted by both partners and both partners are letting their feelings get to them and may be promising the customer things they can’t do just to make themselves look better than the other partner.
- Which partner is likely to get the deal
Some of your partners have a better chance of closing a deal than others. They could have a better sales team, a personal connection to the customer, a better offer than another partner, ect…You want to give the deal to a partner who’s more likely to succeed in landing the customer.
- Your relationship with your partners
Is there a way you can make both your partners happy and possibly strengthen your relationship with them? Perhaps you can give both partners the commission from the registered deal while letting one partner have the customer.
What really matters is demonstrating that you’re working with the partner’s best interests in mind. If you give the deal to one partner, help the other partner (the one you didn’t give the deal to) find another customer. Share a few leads with them, offer your support, whatever you do make sure the partner knows you’ve got their back.
Conflict resolution strategies to apply
- Be consistent with policy and procedures
You probably have policies and procedures outlined in your partner program for situations like this. Those will provide a useful guide as to what you should do. Being consistent with these policies and procedures ensures that even your partners who aren’t in conflict know what the basis is behind your decisions. It also may lessen the chances of hurt feelings as partners know you’re making decisions based on policies and procedures regardless of your actual relationship with them.
- Move the process along
Sometimes your partners will get stuck on a certain point. Perhaps they’re going back and forth with you about who got to the customer first or that they can provide better service than the other partner. Whatever it is, being stuck on that particular point will not help the process along.
If the process drags on for long enough, it will start to take time away from more important business activities. This is the point where you step in and tell your partners that you can revisit the point at a later date or that there’s some policy that requires things to be the way they are. This strategy shouldn’t be used at the very beginning of the conflict, but instead should be used if it appears that the conflict is going to continue over a long period of time.
Conflicts with your partners aren’t easy to solve, but there’s two strategies that you can use to try and resolve the conflict. First, be consistent with your own policies and procedures. These help guide you in making a decision and may reduce hurt feelings as your partners know how you’re making your decisions. Second, move the process along. This is another good strategy as the conflict can drag on if your partners get stuck on a particular point. If it drags on for long enough, it’ll start to take time away from more important activities. These two strategies will help prevent the conflict from dragging out over a long period of time and may help lessen any hurt feelings that inevitably come with the process.