I am always being approached by services that want to partner with us. Some are providing innovative services and tools that could certainly benefit our efforts to better manage client’s programs, boost brand awareness via social media and help with content marketing campaigns. And others, well, they just seem like a lot of hype with questionable results.

Evaluating each of these opportunities can take a lot of due diligence to sort out the good from the bad. Complicating matters is the fact that we have developed several tools (Unlock-an-Offer, Save-a-Sale, Share-a-Deal)  and services of our own that have proven very effective in driving results for our clients.

If other tools that can complement our tools and help clients with specific pain points then that might be worth a look. Often, much of what is pitched to me duplicates some part of our efforts and complicates things for us and the client.

So, here is how I evaluate these third-party services before partnering with them.

First, I look for some obvious basics:

  • Is this a reputable company or a fly-by-night business looking to make a quick buck?
  • Who is the management team behind the company and what is their experience?
  • Do they have success cases that I can review and/or clients that I can speak with about their results?
  • Is the company using a verifiable method for what they are doing or are they just touting some magic behind the scenes that they will not explain or disclose?
  • Is what they are doing on the up-and-up and not crossing any legal or ethical best practices that the industry and we strictly adhere to?
  • What is benefit (time, resources, financial) for our company and our clients?
  • How complicated is any integration required for on our end or for our clients?

If a service provider makes it past the first phase of investigation, then we get into the real scrutiny.

  • I usually send an in-depth email or discuss the potential partner with my team; get their feedback and see how many of their clients truly need such services.
  • I also talk with our in-house development team about the technical merits of the technology. Whether or not it will be easily integrated into our existing systems; deployment and set up to find out the benefits and challenges
  • I also evaluate with my top managers whether or not this is financial beneficial for us.
  • I also seriously consider which clients I can approach to use as a limited test case. We always have flexible clients that are on the cutting edge and up for anything as well as long-time clients we’ve built a solid of foundation of trust with that are willing to act as short-term test subjects.

If all of that works out, we then usually negotiate a test period and contract. Having a trial period allows us to see if this really works as promised before making a long-term commitment. It also gives us protection by mitigating our risk of exposing all of our clients to something that may not pan out. Yes, there are times when no matter how much work is put into a partnership, it just doesn’t come together as expected. In addition, this enables us to evaluate a real working relationship with the other company to determine if they are responsive, flexible, and work well with our team.

As I mentioned above, it’s a lot of work and planning to bring third party partners into the mix, but putting your client’s trust and tying your own business reputation to another company is a huge deal. Missteps can be costly, so it pays to understand all aspects of how this partnership will impact your business, your reputation, and the trust you’ve built with clients. However, successful partnerships can also raise your game and lead to other ways to work together that benefit all parties and drive success for clients.