When it comes to partner relationships, company leaders tend to turn their attention to “sexier” topics (like how digital adoption can drive operational efficiencies, for example) or regard the subject as the province of traditional reseller relationships. This is a mistake. For centuries, sales partnerships have been the crux of commerce. And over the coming decade, the reinvention of these alliances will prove as indispensable to business growth as digital adoption.
At Pivot International, we are a global one-source leader who believes that looking at partnership relationships through an ecological lens is critical to the success of companies’ go-to-market strategies. Pivot’s partnerships — internal and external — are central to its 50 years of experience in helping companies deliver successful innovations. With DFM expertise that spans fourteen industries, six markets, and three continents, our investment in partner ecosystems is as integral to our clients’ success as our own.
Unlocking the Power and Potential of Partner Relationships
To unlock the power and potential of partner relationships, companies can benefit from surveying and assessing the value of their partner ecosystem using the following five steps.
The terms of engagement for sales have never undergone such rapid evolution. Companies must be willing and able to innovate their approach to operational design, talent acquisition, and digital engagement. Step back and take a fresh look at your business model and organizational practices to determine the degree to which they allow you to capitalize on partner relationships. Reevaluate your near-term targets in the context of this new perspective and identify opportunities for strategic shifts.
Go big, or go home
One of the reasons the subject of partner relationships can seem unnecessarily staid is that many leaders aren’t thinking big enough and associate them strictly with traditional channels. But non-traditional channels like social media (and social media influencers), crowdsourcing, event marketing, and other unconventional approaches are playing an increasingly important role in many markets. And remember, when expanding your reach through digital channels, the whole point is to enrich rather than replace human interaction.
Undervaluing the critical importance of partner relationships often has a lot to do with failing to understand the connections between your company’s and your competitors’ relationships with various partners. It can be an incredibly productive exercise to map these relationships, question implicit assumptions about them, and understand their long-term implications. Clearly define metrics for what constitutes a successful partner relationship.
Match to market
Albert Einstein was famous for saying that all living things are intelligent in their own way. This insight is summed up in the quote often attributed to him: “If you judge a fish by its ability to ride a bicycle, you’ll think it’s stupid.” The point here is when things aren’t seen in their proper context, it’s easy to overlook or dismiss their value. To properly assess your partner relationships, match them to the economic framework most appropriate to maximizing their value.
The “customer first” approach to doing business begs the question of the health of the broader ecosystem in which both your customer and company operate. When companies get too focused on the customer at the expense of their partner relationships, both suffer. In other words, don’t discriminate too sharply between your customer and partnership investments since each play a critical role in supporting the other. This means providing your partners with the same attention, investment, transparency, and access you provide to your customers.
A Shared Path to Success
Sales leaders are standing at a crossroads where they face the path of obsolescence or the path of unprecedented opportunity. Those who take the latter will forge a shared path to success for sales teams, customers, partners, and shareholders. At Pivot, this win-win approach is part and parcel of our one-source business model and company culture. If you’d like to learn more about how we will work closely with your team to help you deliver a successful innovation to market, contact us today.