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Mutually Beneficial Partnerships, Part 3: How to Launch & Nurture a Successful Partnership

Posted by Anita Wehnert on
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In the first two posts in this series, I shared my thoughts on identifying opportunities for partnership  and pinpointing the right partner.  Now, let’s talk about how to bring that new partnership to life! 

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

What Does Success Look Like?

Unless you simply have a lot of time on your hands or are looking for a random hobby to complement basket weaving and underwater geocaching, there’s a business reason you created this partnership. Remember the high-level goals you established back in part 1 ? Revisit the “why” (e.g. new business acquisition, customer retention) and consider the key metric(s) that will help you gauge the health of the partnership.

Here are just a few examples of what we consider at ReadyTalk:

  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) sourced by partner programs
  • # of installs of a partner integration
  • Value of ‘Closed Won’ opportunities tied to a partner
  • Trailing 12-month revenue (TTM) from integrated customers

Like any goal, make it specific and ensure you have mechanisms in place to measure it. Don’t go overboard by trying to track everything; save your sanity by focusing on 1-3 key metrics. Get buy-in from your partner: remember, this is about a relationship that drives value for both parties. Finally, be transparent: put your goals in writing and share progress updates frequently to keep them top of mind.

3, 2, 1 … Launch (and Beyond)

So, now that you know where you’re headed, how are you going to get there? Work with your new partner to identify the right mix of assets and activities to get the partnership off the ground. Then, pull together a detailed plan that covers specific items for the first 3 months (including who is responsible for what) and manage to it. 

Here is a brief laundry list of things to think about:

  • Sales enablement (e.g. training, cheat sheet)
  • Lead hand-off plan (e.g. referral process, landing page)
  • Joint marketing programs (e.g. webinars, events)
  • Co-branded content (e.g. data sheets, web content)
  • Announcements (e.g. social, PR, customer emails)

Schedule a weekly check-in call in the period leading up to launch and continue to touch base regularly during the honeymoon period of your relationship to tie up loose ends and keep tabs on initial progress. Be honest with each other about what seems to be working (and what isn’t) and don’t be afraid to adjust and refine your plan. 

In the long-term, work with your partner to continue to plan, execute, assess, and adapt on a regular basis. Keep the momentum going with a steady drumbeat of programs and content throughout the year. 

Avoid Being Barney!

Mutually beneficial partnerships take ongoing investment and energy! Don’t expect to send out a press release, check it off the list, and move on to the next shiny object.  “I love you. You love me” (the infamous “Barney partnership,” or – as I like to call it – the “check-in-the-box partnership”) doesn’t really do anything for anybody, so why waste your time?

Here are a few candid tips on how to be a good partner:

  • Don’t phone it in: Show up! Go to events. Visit in person. Be human, be engaged, be genuine and be willing to put in the work to truly make your new partnership mutually beneficial.
  • Don’t be single-threaded: Respect your primary contact and go through all the right channels, but don’t let your broader partnership hinge on a single individual. Get to know others in your partner’s organization. Network and ask for introductions to expand your reach.
  • Deliver on your promises: If you commit to a deadline, meet it.  If you say you are going to do something, do it. Keep your word and be someone your partner knows they can count on.
  • Show your appreciation: A simple “thank you” can go a long way. Take the time to send a piece of swag or catch up over a cocktail (or a cup of coffee). These things can help develop and nurture a long and fruitful relationship.

Hopefully, the tips I have shared in this series will help you find ways that partnerships can make a difference in your business. Good luck!

Just starting a partner program? What other questions do you have? Already running a successful program? I’d love to hear your own tips.


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