Channel partnerships offer tremendous business opportunities in terms of adding value to your offerings, extending your reach into the market, drastically reducing your overhead, and compressing your learning curve. In our last post, we detailed these advantages for consulting practices in HR, Organizational Development, I/O Psychology, and similar businesses.

However, before you begin building a network of channel partnerships, take these words to heart: choose wisely.

Of course, the ultimate goal of a channel partnership is to spend less money and make more. But there are other factors to consider. Here are five questions you should ask before committing:

  1. What is the reputation of your prospective partner? Imagine you work for a management consulting firm and want to provide more comprehensive recommendations to your clients. You decide that a partner in the behavioral-assessment field is just what you need. You could go with the respected firm that offers an array of scientifically validated assessment reports, coaching guides, and development tools, but instead you cut corners and go with a 6-month-old copycat company that has a neat phone app but no record of scientific accuracy. Guess what: your partner’s reputation is now your reputation.
  2. Is your prospective partner innovative? Is their offering aligned to a market that is in growth mode? Do they have an ear to their clients’ needs? Remember that empathy drives innovation. Say you are an organizational development consultant who helps clients align human capital, and you want to expand your range of services with People Analytics. Do you partner with a company that relies on the same tired performance statistics from 25 years ago, or do you join forces with a firm that innovates based on thought leadership so that their solutions are leading edge and first to market because they understand what big data is all about? You don’t want your products or services linked to something perceived as stale. Why? See previous paragraph.
  3. What is their support model like? Will their support model span multiple disciplines like sales support, best-practice client support, and industry-leading talent management solution support from experienced I/O psychologists? A good support model helps you capitalize on more and better opportunities within your client base.
  4. Is your prospective partner up front and honest or evasive and hard to reach? With legalities, non-disclosure agreements, and intellectual-property rights in play—not to mention logistical, technical, and operational details that need to be hammered out—the last thing you need is someone who doesn’t advocate for clarity and transparency between partners.
  5. Do you have an opportunity to collaborate with your prospective partner? By collaborating and sharing your best-practice experiences, you can help shape future solutions that will add more value to both of your businesses.  Through these types of practices, new and innovative solutions can impact the industry on a larger scale and allow you to capitalize on the momentum of offering a differentiated approach or solution. If your growth plan and strategic goals differ notably from those of your potential partner, however, you might need to look for a better fit elsewhere.

Now that you’re armed with information about channel partnerships, it’s time to get out there and make your business work for you!