The power of 2

For the independent security dealer, Partner Programs provide a number of strategic advantages-ones that will help your company stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

In choosing a Partner Program, consider the specific advantages and benefits and whether it can be customized to your needs as an independent dealer. Here are some important questions to ask before entering into a manufacturer's Partner Program:

Are there sales volume requirements?

Many Partner Programs have strict sales quotas that must be met in order to remain in good standing. Sometimes these mandates are too burdensome for the independent dealer as concerned with nurturing existing customer relationships as they are with increasing sales volume month after month. Worse, in some programs, unmet sales goals can lead to penalties.

For many independent dealers, a more inclusive Partner Program-one with low barriers to entry, no minimum sales quotas and one that allows you to control the pace at which you adopt new technologies-provide many more advantages than one geared toward the high-volume capabilities of national or regional dealers.

What are the opportunities for discounts?

Almost all Partner Programs offer hardware discounts, but fewer offer hardware discounts and monthly monitoring discounts. And still fewer increase those discounts through easily reachable membership tiers-that is, the discounts don't end once you join the Partner Program. The discount programs that provide the most advantages to the independent dealer reward consistency over raw sales volume and allow for easy advancement to the next higher levels.

Will you receive REAL marketing support?

Does the manufacturer help you reach customers, or is your partner concerned only with selling to you, the dealer? The sales literature provided to you by the manufacturer should appeal directly to the end-user. This is critical for the independent dealer, who doesn't have room in the budget for extensive marketing.

Also, does your Partner Program provide you with qualified sales leads-leads that are backed by demographics research and real, localized customer knowledge? Or are they giving you "Yellow Pages" leads that go nowhere?

The best Partner Programs give you the sales advantage by providing marketing assistance and custom tools that help you sell systems.

Does your Partner have a solid and long-standing reputation in the field?

Ideally, you'll partner with a manufacturer that's already an established leader. These Partners are familiar with the challenges unique to the industry and are better prepared for the emergence of future technologies. For instance, Telular's recently launched Telguard Advantage Program is one such Partner Program that can help you help your customers make the necessary transition from landlines to wireless security.

Will you have priority access?

When faced with challenges, a higher level of service and the advantages of priority technical support are a must. Program members should always get a spot at the front of the call queue, with an experienced service staff to provide assistance with installation, registration, billing and any other issues.

Above all, Partner Programs should be, as the name suggests, true partnerships that feature a spirit of collaboration and the advantage of shared goals. In today's business climate, the independent security dealer can't afford anything less.

Shawn Welsh is the vice president of Marketing and Business Development for Telular, based in Atlanta,