A good place to start when considering syndicating an e-commerce service to your sales partners, is talk to your best and most successful sales partners. Ask them for a face-to-face meeting at their place. Or, invite them to yours. Also invite the firm that you are considering as a provider.
In the case of e-commerce, you will need to determine their perceived need and get an initial reaction. Do not make the mistake of presenting them with a detailed presentation. You will lock their mind into evaluating your presentation. You want them to be open to concept for additional revenue and better customer support through a tried and true solution. What business owner wouldn't be receptive to these concepts?
Determine if they have tried e-commerce, themselves, as a sales channel. What were the results, problems and current status of their project. Chances are, if they tried it, they will have a negative attitude about it - didn't work, too much trouble, didn't have the right skills, didn't get any traffic, no sales. If they didn't try it, they have been putting it off - don't know where to start, don't have the right people, too expensive, hard to choose a provider. These are common perceptions of the Internet held by small businesses.
Once you have felt out their perceptions, you can conduct a "what if" session in which you test the perceived issues against the concept. Syndicated e-commerce will address most of their concerns, especially if you are going to design, manage and provide the service to them - perhaps even sharing the cost. A low-cost, what have I got to lose proposition will always get a business person's ear, especially if they already have a solid relation ship with you.
Now you can begin to tell them what you have in mind - a program for enabling your entire sale channel with e-commerce. Common functionality, individual branding, multiple vendors, special offerings, special locator listing, etc. Ask them for their input and give them the opportunity to tell you what they would like to accomplish with such a project. Take their input and be sure to tell them that you are going to also be talking to other top companies about the project, and that you would like to get them all together after your have absorbed their input and present some framework for the project. Then follow up.
The next blog: The Follow-up.