There are so many partners, whether it be consultancies, agencies or marketing technology providers who can offer you a product or service in the world of digital. My experience of new partner selection is that it can quite often be a long and drawn out affair, impacting the day to day trading of your business and medium term performance. 
 
So why even change in the first place? Brands are continuously in new partner selection mode for one reason or another. Here are a few examples of the scenarios that I have come across over the last 16 years: 
 
Brands often decide to re-pitch as protocol warrants it. For example, investor led businesses often request teams to review their suppliers every 2 years 
Some do it as a beauty parade to understand the market and get new ideas, which they can implement via their in-house team or pass to their incumbent. 
Others use it as the stick to get their incumbent in gear, whether this be to make them think or get more from them from a value perspective (e.g. more time and cheaper fees). This is not a bad idea as quite often I have seen and heard that after the first 6 months following the onboarding phase, that many agencies reduce the amount of time spent on a client, meaning what has been sold in is rarely what the brand actually get. 
And finally, there are a group who have realised that the grass is maybe greener on the other side and that they are lacking something from their partner. Maybe linked to performance, level of servicing or lack of forward thinking 

1. Understand what problem(s) you are trying to solve before starting the process? 

Understand the ‘what’ and ’why’ 
Get a second opinon from someone not close to the day to day 
Determine whether you can get this from your existing partner 
Ensure there is a clear consensus across all people involved 

2. Ensure all decision makers and influencers are involved in the process and you are aligned on the problems? 

Ensure all key stakeholders are on board from the start - a common problem is that end users are not involved until its too late 
Often the decision impacts on other teams within the business 
Avoid the future friction by making sure that they are brought in at the start 

3. Align the problem with the partner you select to pitch? 

Understand who is best fit – you could ask your network on who they are currently using, why and what benefits they see 
Don’t look to brief your requirements out to more than 5 partners, as this will create decision making paralysis and will slow the process down 

4. Write a clear brief, ensuring you have substance over volume?  This will ensure you have created a fair process and create consistency Be clear on what the problem is and what is important to you in a new partner Don’t ask too many questions if you are looking for people to respond using a Request for Proposal (RFP) as a first stage Why not try something new and skip the RFP stage! You could limit the amount of words ensure all responses concise. This will save you a whole heap of time in the evaluation process too  

5. Evaluate the partner using a mix of quantitative and qualitative in place 

Face to face meeting time – this should be where you put most of the weighting 
Have a clear scoring / evaluation criteria, weighting your needs to the key problems you are trying to solve 
People buy from people – ensure those attending will be the people that you engage with (not the sales team) 
Try to avoid being led by price (the cheapest option) – quite often this can seem the best short-term way of creating a better Return on Investment (ROI), however may harm your long term growth 

Are you looking to review your current partners? 

In summary, the key is to be able to cut through the noise, understanding your reasons for change and quickly finding a partner who will deliver on this. 
 
If you are interested in understanding how we can support in the new partner selection process, contact us today. 
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