Mutually Beneficial Partnerships, Part 1: How to Discover the Right Areas for Partnership

My background in is product. I have lived and breathed technology product marketing and product management for more than 17 years.  After leading ReadyTalk’s product strategy organization for the past 3-1/2 years, I recently shifted my attention to focus on strategic partnerships and integrations. While my title is new, my involvement in partnerships at ReadyTalk is not.  I have helped build relationships with many of our partners, including Eloqua, ExactTarget, Pardot, and Marketo.  I’m excited to share some of what I have learned over the past few years about creating mutually beneficial partnerships in a three-part series of posts.  Let’s start with some advice on kicking off a partner program and identifying areas for partnership.

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

Why Partner?

Thinking about starting a partner program at your organization? The first question you should answer is “why?” Do you want to:

  • Generate leads for sales?
  • Acquire new customers?
  • Retain existing customers?
  • Upsell/cross-sell existing customers?
  • Fill gaps in your product offering?
  • Fulfill unmet market needs?
  • Expand your product portfolio?
  • Offer complementary services to your customers?
  • Extend your sales reach?
  • Something else?

There are many reasons to partner, sohaving a clear picture of the objectives for your partner program is key.  Now that you know where you are headed, the next step is to uncover potential areas for partnership.

Identifying Areas for Partnership

In my opinion, successful partnerships (like successful products) start with a focus on the customer. If you start from the perspective of understanding your customer’s environment, objectives, and top-of-mind issues, you’re in the right frame of mind to find partners who will help you deliver value to users and achieve your goals.

Here are a few questions to think about to help identify promising areas for partnership:

  • Who is your target customer? What does their typical day look like?
  • What other technologies play a role in their business processes?
  • Where are the pain points in their current processes? Are they manually moving data from your app to another app?
  • Can you save them time, help them solve a problem or be more effective at their job by integrating systems? 
  • Have users ever asked you to help them solve a problem in an adjacent space?
  • Have they ever asked you to integrate your product with another application in their workflow?
  • How can you create more value for them through partnership? 

Considering these questions will help you identify categories of companies where partnership or integration can make a difference. In Part 2, I’ll share tips for how to approach a company about a potential partnership and how to vet which partner is the best fit for your organization.

Just starting a partner program? What other questions do you have? Already running a successful program? Please add your own tips.

 
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