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15 Questions To Ask Yourself When Building a Partnership Strategy

What's the best way to team up with channel partners? We have three steps to consider as you develop a partnership plan.

A man holds a tablet and looks out a window, perhaps pondering his partnership strategy.
Understanding where you win — what regions and verticals — will help you target areas you want to invest in. [AzmanJaka / Getty]

You want to get your product or service into the hands of more customers. Other companies might want to get your product out there, too — if it helps generate revenue for themselves. And that can form the foundation of a successful channel partnership strategy.

When you team up with a channel partner, you can increase your value to new and existing customers — and, in turn, grow your profits. I’ve seen this happen time and again over the last six years as an ISV Partner Success Manager at Salesforce. And along the way, I’ve learned a number of important tips from successful partners, including how to get to market faster.

 A key word I hear when I talk to our partners is “scale.” They want to go big. And their main question is: What is the key to scale our sales efforts and maximize revenue?

Let’s start thinking through the three steps to help you define your partnership strategy.

1. Understand where you win

Identify your best, high-growth products, market, and segments.

Start by gathering your facts, sales data, recent information about closed deals, and success stories. Where are you trending in regards to market segments, verticals, and territories? Which product combinations are selling the best in each region?

Start by gathering your facts, sales data, recent information about closed deals, and success stories.

Action: From your wins, define what can complement your solution to your end customer. Talk to your customers and get feedback by asking the following questions:

  • What makes their decision making easier?
  • What helps the sales process go smoother?
  • What do they believe creates better alignment?
  • What makes your solution more attractive compared to your competition in the market?

2. Establish the business goals for your partnership strategy

Understanding where you win — what regions and verticals — will help you target areas that you want to invest in. Sharing this information will also make it easier for partners to recognize an opportunity where they can partner with you to get to market faster.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you looking to co-market/co-sponsor events?
  • Are you looking at expanding into new markets and regions? New market segments and verticals?
  • Are you looking for a partner who complements your technology?
  • Are you looking for a partner who supports your implementations and provides professional services?
  • Are you looking to leverage existing networks and expand your coverage through your partner channel?

Look at your competitors’ partner programs, including the type of partners they target, the events they sponsor, and how they are incentivizing and creating value.

Look at your competitors’ partner programs, including the type of partners they target and the events they sponsor.

Action: Answer the above questions, and identify the top two reasons you are looking to partner. Write down your business goals for the partnership strategy. Lastly, define the three benefits you can accomplish by developing partnerships in the ecosystem.

3. Develop measurable objectives

Here are some questions to answer in order to set revenue targets for your partner program:

  • What is your predicted partner-led revenue as a percentage of your total revenue?
  • If you have worked with partners to drive revenue in the past, what was the dollar amount your partners generated over the last two years?

Consider joint marketing efforts with your partners, and the amount your partners will contribute to that program. Below are some potential scenarios:

  • Is it more cost-effective to embed a partner solution instead of building it in house? If yes, have you evaluated potential partners? If no, perform a cost analysis to develop, maintain, and upgrade the solution.
  • If you are looking to get more leads and referrals through an extended network, is there a software company that has many of the same customers? Reach out to develop joint marketing plans. What about a partner who is already in your target vertical or market?
  • To build a better brand and create awareness, consider the partners that have done a great job in this area. Can you brainstorm together?

Partnerships are there to help you with all of the above, but prioritize your business goals, and have clear objectives so that you can pick the right partners. Then, put a partnership strategy together and drive toward success.

What you can do now

Getting started is half the challenge. Begin with these four activities on your journey.

  • Measure and know your business metrics and your customer profile
  • Define your goals and business needs
  • Determine the amount you are going to spend on your defined objectives
  • Determine the amount you are expecting your potential partner to drive

Experienced program management and marketing professional with a 7-year track record of successfully partnering with management teams, field organizations, and partners to capture growth opportunities. An energetic professional with strong communication skills who values building relationships between teams in order to deliver business results.

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