Though it has been credited to many, including Mark Twain, most notably Bob Burg, author of “The Go-Giver” said encourages us to “Internalize the Golden Rule of sales that says; All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”

It’s common sense that building trust begins right at the beginning of any relationship. This is the time when you are first getting to know each other, learn about each other, and take your first measure of what you think you can expect from each other.

In partner management, we refer to this time as the period of onboarding, and that’s where we can easily begin to create a problem, especially when we’re committed to the greater efficiency of automating the onboarding process.

Who’s Coming Onboard What?

It serves to pay special attention to Burg’s words. While he’s specifying that people do business with people they know, like, and trust, the first key point there is that they do business with people. They interact with people. They make decisions based on their relationship with people.

We need to distinguish between onboarding a new partner company into our program, and simply getting to know the people at that company better. One can be automated, and the other cannot. This is where the trouble can begin.

Begin by remembering that you are onboarding a partner company and getting to know that partner’s people and you can readily avoiding alienating anyone or damaging your fledgling new relationship. Along the path of using automation, we must be very conscious of how easily we can offend the people involved by making them feel like “just another number.”

Using Automation to Accelerate Partner Onboarding

There are plenty of details, empirical facts, that need to be captured and catalogued during the partner onboarding process, details about the new partner’s corporate entity including tax exempt information, market segmentation information, full contact info for all critical people, financial account specifics, and more. All of these can be captured quickly and in a basically automated way.

We’ve automated the once laborious process of getting people to sign the agreements necessary to establish a formal partnering relationship. No more waiting days for documents to travel back and forth.

Information, in the form of objective, factual details, are readily collected regarding each member of the new partner’s organization and their roles, making it far easier for members of your team to identify the right person to interact with to accomplish whatever needs to be done.

Tracking the successful completion of required training for various members of the partner organization is easily automated as well, speeding their progress toward delivering a quality customer experience with your products and services.

Business Metrics, Commitments, and Performance

Peter Drucker assured us, “You cannot manage what you do not measure,” so its critical to your onboarding success to record all goals and objectives for your new partnership.

Automation can then help dramatically with the tracking of achievement toward those goals. Not just sales results, but also all the indicators and activities that lead to sales. From the top of the sales funnel to the bottom, tracking progress along a well-defined sales process is an excellent way to employ automation.

One key is to apply automation to your existing best practices to accelerate and assure fewer errors. Once you find yourself adapting your processes to accommodate automation you are ceding ground unnecessarily. Technology is highly adaptable. Best practices, once adopted successfully should not be. Stick with what works. Make it work faster.

Remember the Human Aspect of Partner Communications

While partnering occurs between companies, success is achieved by people. That success must be recognized, acknowledged, and celebrated. When your automated processes inform active conversation between you and your partners you are leveraging technology to enhance human endeavor, and that’s the goal.

When you simply report activity and results in email and other messaging you are abandoning the opportunity to enjoy the sharing of success. Mediated interpersonal communication enables the sharing of information, but filters and reduces the human enjoyment of each other and of partnering with each other to achieve success. Ultimately, automate the facts and figures, and experience the sharing of feelings in person.