We have all been there. We spend an awful amount of time trying to profile the ideal partner, and we go through the exercise of evaluating all their capabilities. We try to find out the number of sales people that they employ, their technical capabilities, etc.
But I would argue that not much of them really matter by themselves, all of these are mostly just proxies for what we really need in a partner.
When you are looking to establish a partnership, complementary skills and strengths are of most value. All technology vendors have a very good grasp on the technology itself and how the market will move; what they need help from a partner are those strengths and skills where they have a gap.
Which can be mostly summarized as ACCESS TO CUSTOMERS.
The obvious take on this is gauging their presence in a given territory and their existing relationships with customers. and furthermore the granularity and frequency of contact they can achieve and the breadth of services they provide. Do they provide only Sales support? or are they capable of Pre-Sales technical support?, are they in the business of supporting their customers after the sale?
When evaluating a partner, the real fundamental questions are: Which new customers can this partner introduce my solutions to?, Do they offer coverage in a territory where I have no presence?, and Can they perform tasks that are critical to my business in a way that is less costly, faster, and with high quality?