95% of Microsoft’s commercial revenue comes from its partner ecosystem, which grows by 7,500 partners every single month. Channel partners contributed to 40% of Zoom’s business in Japan, and over 70% of its business in the United States. These numbers demonstrate the impact of partner marketing and how it leads to healthy business development.
However, it’s vital that you do the research before forming a partnership with just anyone. That’s where a partner playbook comes in handy. A partner playbook contains best practices, strategies, and recommended actions for a successful partnership. It’s a comprehensive document that provides detailed information on engaging with partners, building stronger relationships, and achieving mutual business goals.
A playbook is incredibly useful for companies that rely on partnerships to achieve objectives and helps to establish a consistent approach to engagement. By following these guidelines, organizations can build stronger, lasting partnerships that deliver tangible results.
Relevize offers a free downloadable resource on the topic, “How to Become a Premium Channel Partner,” and in this article, we’ll briefly look over partner programs, examples, benefits, and best practices for a business to reach optimal partner success.
What is a Partner Program?
A partner program is a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship between two companies, where company A provides resources and benefits to company B in exchange for promoting or selling its products/services.
This type of program is often used by tech firms, software providers, and other companies who seek to expand market reach and grow their customer base. Use cases also extend to marketing professionals looking to reach a new audience.
Partner programs take on various forms, including:
- Referral programs - Refer potential customers and receive a commission for the sale.
- Affiliate programs - Promote the products/services and receive a commission for any resulting sales.
- Reseller programs - Bundle and resell the products/services to their customers.
What Does a Partner Program Include?
A partner program usually includes a set of resources and benefits that the program sponsor provides to the partner organization. The specific aspects of a partner program can vary depending on the business size and industry, as well as the type of partnership and organizational goals. Some of the more common elements include:
Sales and Marketing Support
Access to sales enablement tools, marketing materials, leads, and training to help a partner better promote and sell products and services.
This involves a clear set of expectations and guidelines for partnership, including compensation structures, requirements for participation, and partner obligations.
Joint Marketing and Branding Activities
This part of the program covers opportunities for co-branded tasks like press releases, events, webinars, and other shared marketing materials.
Any type of tech support needed, including product training and ongoing upkeep. A partner program provides whatever is required for a partner to support customers effectively.
A program gives partners priority access to any new products and services, allowing them to offer cutting-edge solutions to their customers.
Reporting and Analytics
A successful partner program gives you access to performance metrics, reporting tools, and analytics to help track and evaluate the functionality and success of the business partnership.
Rewards and Incentives
Every partner program should have the means to incentivize and reward top-performing partners with strategies like bonuses and contests.
The ultimate goal of a partner program is to provide a partner with the resources and support they need to grow and succeed.
Incentives in a Partner Program
Incentives can vary depending on the nature of the partnership and the goals involved. Some of the more common incentives and initiatives in a partner program include:
- Revenue Share or Commission: Partners may receive a commission or a share of revenue generated by their sales.
- Technical Support: The partner program might include tech support, such as product training and ongoing support, to help a partner better serve customers.
- Sales and Marketing Support: The program might offer marketing and sales support like leads, training, and access to promotional materials.
- Joint Marketing and Branding: Opportunities like co-branded events, press releases, webinars, and other marketing materials.
- Priority Access and Discounts: A partner receives priority access to new products and services, allowing them to be the first to offer these to their customers.
- Incentive Programs: The partner program may offer additional incentives, like contests and bonuses, to encourage continued growth.
These are some of the more common incentives. However, the specifics of a partner program will vary greatly depending on the relationship between the two companies.
Benefits of a Partner Program
Whether you run a startup or Fortune 500 enterprise, every type of business and brand can benefit from partner programs. This can include marketing support, training, access to exclusive resources, compensation for partner sales, and more.
Here are some of the more common advantages of this business model:
Larger Customer Base
Using a partner program gives a business access to a broader customer base by leveraging a partner’s network and existing audience.
Successful partner programs help a business increase brand recognition by associating with well-known and established partners.
A business can reduce costs through partner programs by sharing marketing and sales resources with their partners, while leveraging their expertise.
Partner programs allow a business to increase revenue by providing new sales channels and opportunities to cross-sell and upsell its products/services.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
These programs help a company improve customer satisfaction and retention by providing a more comprehensive range of products/services, and offering customers a more complete solution.
Partner programs help a company expand its reach and enter new markets by leveraging a partner’s expertise and resources.
By working together, businesses can use a partner’s strengths and expertise to provide a 360-degree solution to their customers, optimize workflows, and gain a competitive advantage in their industry.
What is a Partner Ecosystem and Why are they Important?
A partner ecosystem is a business network of companies, suppliers, vendors, and other organizations that work together to create, market, and sell products and services. This environment typically includes a variety of partners that bring different resources, skills, and expertise to the table, and are essential for a few reasons like:
Partner ecosystems help companies increase revenue by providing new sales channels and opportunities to cross-sell or upsell products.
Companies can gain a competitive advantage by accessing unique resources, expertise, and opportunities their competitors might not have.
A brand can foster innovation by bringing together different companies with different perspectives and experiences. This, inevitably, leads to new ideas and solutions that may not have been apparent without collaboration.
Access to Resources
Partner ecosystems give brands access to a broader array of resources, from talent to technology, capital, and IT frameworks, anything that helps businesses scale and grow.
Improved Customer Experience
Partner ecosystems improve the customer experience by providing a complete solution that meets their needs. By working with partners, brands can provide a more seamless and integrated customer experience.
Example of a Partner Ecosystem in Action
There are hundreds of examples and case studies where you can witness a thriving partner ecosystem in action. One prime example is the Salesforce AppExchange ecosystem. This cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software has a robust partner ecosystem that provides complementary products and services to customers.
The Salesforce marketplace offers apps and services to Salesforce customers. It includes a variety of partner opportunities, from independent software vendors (ISVs) to consulting firms, system integrators, tech companies, and more.
Salesforce provides its partners with a range of resources and support, including training and certification programs, marketing and sales support, and technical resources. In return, partners help to expand the Salesforce ecosystem and provide additional value to Salesforce customers.
ISVs can build apps that specifically integrate with Salesforce and then offer them on the AppExchange, which allows customers to easily enhance their Salesforce experience.
Partners can use the technology to provide customization, implementation, and integration services, helping to expand the Salesforce platform and provide greater overall value. Becoming a premium channel partner starts with access to incredible resources like Salesforce provides through AppExchange.
4 High-Level Best Practices for Partner Program Success
When a business is looking to enter into a partnership, there are a few best practices that will lead to partner program success. These are:
1. Find the Right Partners
Finding the right partner requires due diligence and careful research. You don't want to enter this business relationship with your eyes closed. Both organizations must take the time to get to know each other before signing any paperwork.
Nearly any organization or influencer can become a channel partner, so the onus is on the hiring partner to protect their business.
Finding the right partner should include these steps:
- Defining your criteria
- Researching partners
- Evalutaing potentials
- Meeting with partners
- Developing a partnership agreement
Staying with experienced, like-minded brands with similar business goals and objectives is essential. This is the most straightforward path to partner program success.
2. Drive Awareness and Revenue with Distinctive Partnerships
To find the top-performing partners in your industry, you must offer competitive products and services, and form a distinctive partnership. This is a powerful way to leverage brand awareness and drive revenue. A few ways to create a unique collaboration include:
Identify Complementary Partners
Look for brands that offer complementary products or services to your own. For example, if you sell software, your partner may be a hardware provider or an IT consulting firm. The goal is to find companies that share your target audience, but offer something slightly different.
Offer Bundled Packages
Create bundled packages that include offers from you and your partner. This is a great way to create more value for customers and differentiate your business from competitors.
Develop Joint Campaigns
Create a joint marketing or sales campaign with your partner to promote your products/services. This can include things like:
- Co-branded content
- Social media posts
Make sure the messaging is consistent and aligns with your brand values.
Provide Exclusive Discounts
Offer each other’s customers exclusive discounts and offers. This is a unique way to incentivize potential customers to try both brands. Make sure the offers are clear and easy to redeem.
This involves marketing each other’s respective products/services to your own audience. For example, a business can promote its partner’s product on its website or via an email campaign. This helps to drive traffic and raise awareness for both parties involved.
By leveraging distinctive partnerships, brands tap into new audiences, drive revenue, and create more value for customers. The key is to find a partner that complements your business and aligns with brand values. Then, create a cohesive marketing campaign that promotes both of your products or services.
3. Know Your Metrics
A strategic partnership helps to increase leads and drive growth, but you need to be able to measure performance to determine success. So you must have a starting point that requires collecting baseline metrics.
What are some of the more common metrics companies analyze regarding partnerships?
- Engagement: How engaged are the customers? Look at the time spent on the site, the number of page views, and conversion rates.
- Revenue: How much money has been generated through the partnership? This can include sales, referral revenue, and cash from joint marketing campaigns.
- Cost Savings: Has the partnership helped to reduce costs? This can include cost savings on product development, marketing, and customer acquisition.
- Customer Acquisition: How many new customers have been gained through the partnership? This includes new customers through both the partnership and via joint marketing campaigns.
- Brand Awareness: How has the partnership impacted brand awareness for both parties? This includes metrics like social media mentions, website traffic, and press coverage.
- Customer Satisfaction: How satisfied are the customers from the partnership? This includes metrics like customer feedback, reviews, and Net Promoter Score (NPS).
- Long-term Value: What is the long-term value of the partnership? Is there a potential for repeat business? Look at the ability to cross-sell and upsell, as well as the potential for future collaborations.
Identifying and analyzing the metrics that matter most to your business helps to evaluate partnerships more effectively. It also allows companies to make better data-driven decisions about which partnerships to pursue.
This is why it’s so important to regularly review and adjust these numbers as needed, which ensures you’re making accurate measurements.
4. Use Your Program to Build a Partner Ecosystem
It’s critical to bring on the right type of partners, so your network flourishes in its partner ecosystem. A robust program opens up the ability to create a professional partner ecosystem that expands business growth opportunities.
A partner network provides access to a diverse range of companies offering complementary products/services. This helps a business expand its offerings and create more value for customers. It also facilitates collaboration and knowledge-sharing between all parties. Thus an organization can stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices, while creating opportunities for further product development.
Being part of a partner program will increase brand visibility and help them reach new audiences. By leveraging a partner network’s marketing channels, businesses can increase reach and drive more traffic to their store or site. A network also simplifies onboarding for new partners by providing resources and support. This means partners are set up for success right from the very start.
By leveraging a partner network to create a professional partner ecosystem, organizations tap into new opportunities for innovation and growth. The key is identifying the right partners and building a collaborative and supportive environment that benefits everyone involved.
What You’ll Discover in Our Partner Playbook
If you’re ready to start building your own partner program, our Partner Playbook can answer all your critical questions. It touches on concepts like:
- Recent changes to channel partnership structures (and how to overcome new challenges)
- The five most important tactics deployed by successful partners
- How channel partnerships are poised to change in the near future—and how to stay ahead of it
It also dives into the future of channel partnerships, and what you can expect down the road. Download the Relevize Partner Playbook today.
Learn the Best Partner Strategies With Relevize
From cost savings to brand recognition, improving your customer base, and expanding resources, there are millions of reasons why working with a partner can improve your business. However, in order to reach success, you must do the research.
Find the right partners and create joint campaigns with them. Cross-promote and co-brand whenever possible. Always know your metrics from the very beginning and use your program to build an entire partner ecosystem that drives itself.
Relevize enables you to launch paid campaigns on behalf of your partners to acquire new leads. These can then be nurtured to generate qualified channel pipeline. A seamless onboarding process, with our attentive partner success team, means acquiring new talent is a simple process that eliminates bottlenecks.
That’s why Relevize clients have experienced incredible success with the program. Ready to reach new levels and markets with your business? Download our Partner Playbook and get started today.