Today, the shift toward partner-driven growth can be seen almost everywhere, with businesses of all sizes, and across all verticals. Enterprises are actively assessing suppliers’ ability to become partners, certifying those that qualify and then — together — experiencing massive gains.
If your business has been on the fence about building your own partnership program, consider these five specific, tangible ways a strategic partnership channel can drive otherwise unrealized growth.
1. Offering customizable solutions and services
Larger business customers often require a custom experience to operate. But navigating and decoding the tech vendor market can be a challenge. Every supplier offers a distinctive combination of features and capabilities, and the only sellers who “do it all” are financially out of reach for many business customers.
For years, analysts have criticized the legitimately frustrating scenario of fragmented tech systems, calling mismatched solutions “Frankensteins,” and suggesting a rip and replace remedy. But a system replacement has its own drawbacks.
Colossal system replacement initiatives are more than financially costly, they’re disruptive to daily operations and introduce substantial and unpredictable security risks. With strategic agency partnerships, your customers are enabled to create the tailored solutions they need without having to rip and replace systems.
2. Reach new audiences in prime, underserved verticals
Untapped niches and undeveloped segments become viable potential markets with the power of partnerships. Companies learn to creatively search, assess and target ripe prospects based not on their offerings alone, but on the possible outcomes they envision their combined partner forces could deliver.
For example, consider the often-outdated user experience of a visit to the pediatrician or general practitioner’s office. You may phone to make an appointment on the phone, arrive, register, complete forms with multiple fields of redundant information and wait. When you do see the exam room, an assistant or technician asks a few of the same questions you just answered on paper. Predictably, your physician eventually arrives and again asks about what you’ve already described multiple times.
You’re asked where you’d like your script sent, by what medium it should go and how you would like to pay your copay.
With the expertise and tools of our strategic partners, we can reshape the healthcare experience. Visitors can now go online and book an appointment, pay the copay online and walk-in already registered. The physician receives the necessary patient data ahead of time as the website, front desk and back office are all now connected in the EHR system.
With a program of robust, versatile channel partners, enterprises can envision, propose and deliver the many ways existing user experiences could be modernized. It’s the uncrowded nature of the territory that helps us accommodate those needs best — and first.
In fact, the outcomes those new customers could achieve may, in turn, allow them to reach fresh, underserved markets of their own.
3. Enabling new experiences
Leveraging the skills and resources of other specialists means doing more. Teaming up with the talent, experience and tools of another expert to meet those needs means collaborating to enable new experiences you otherwise would never have realized.
Consider two large companies working on a new integration — both have unique skill sets and abilities that they can bring to the table and are able to provide additional viewpoints where the other may have formerly had a blind spot. Strategic partnerships allow companies to be complementary in their product decisions — accessing new insights that either alone may not have been able to arrive at.
For example, imagine a retailer wanting to connect their online and in-person stores for a unified commerce system and experience for the consumer. The retailer needs to first find a way to connect in store inventory with the website so a user can order online and pick up in store. The resulting solution is a real-world example of an experience that would likely leverage a strategic partnership.
4. Gain industry reciprocity
Ultimately, true strategic partnerships produce a mutual, two-way synergy. The earliest mark of a successful channel partner program is the satisfaction — even invigoration — of all three parties (company, customer and partner). It’s the latter that too often fails to receive the support and development investment than the former typically receives. Conventional “partnerships” view suppliers as transactional vendors, reinforcing the original deficiencies and enabling the faulty paradigm that created those deficiencies.
Historically, companies would sign a deal, but fail to devote energy and resources toward making that partner successful. A customer- and market-driven product strategy aligns a company and its channel partners for continual synchronization and mutual wins.
Those who do invest back into their strategic partners are seeing the most return value. Increasingly, we’ve seen companies giving customers a feedback portal for partner evaluation. This gives the chance for customers to be heard, and for companies to invest in celebrating outstanding partners and improving the collaborating experience for others.
5. Generate corollary revenue
In many partnership scenarios, companies introduce their channel partners to customers. But increasingly, it’s the partners that can introduce enterprises to new customer segments. The right partnerships attract new business without the investment it would take to create and market new products or services of our own.
For instance, imagine you ally with an upmarket e-commerce platform that’s known for serving large merchants in, for example, website platform services. As an established strategic partner, though, that solutions provider can introduce you to their customers, integrating your products into their projects. This move brings your products to new customers and acquaints those new customers to unique outcomes only you can offer.
In exchange, you can incentivize that strategic partner (the original ally) to promote the very products you want to amplify, so all three businesses grow. In this example, the partner enjoys incentives for promoting your product family while the customer realizes outcomes that are not possible without the partnership. All three parties enjoy the same benefits, but in this scenario, your company generates the revenue of new growth without putting forth any market intelligence or outreach effort.