5 Keys to Killer Business Partnerships

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When done the right way, business partnerships can be extremely beneficial. This article outlines five keys to successfully creating mutually beneficial partnerships.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking on a DemandLab and Marketo panel. The topic? Chief marketing officers as change agents. It covered everything from the technology challenges facing marketers to the importance of integrating sales and marketing teams seamlessly to drive digital transformation.

But that got me thinking about another key aspect of transformation – our partnerships. The partners we select as vendors and the partners we select to offer our clients the best services possible.

These partners accomplish two things: They add to the strength of our businesses and widen our impact in a crowded market.

But who we partner with matters, now more than ever. So, what makes for a successful partnership? Let’s take a look at some keys.

Cultural fit

This is often the element a company will look at and evaluate when it comes to partnerships, and to me, that’s always been a miss. If your vendors and partners don’t have a similar culture, approach to market, and set of values, you could find yourself in a bind a few months into the collaboration. Case in point: If your business puts a high value on privacy compliance and your vendor doesn’t, you could find yourself reaping the fallout. Another aspect: How well do your go-to-market strategies align? The closer your values are, the better your partnership will function outwardly to the public.

Case in point: If your business puts a high value on privacy compliance and your vendor doesn’t, you could find yourself reaping the fallout. Another aspect: How well do your go-to-market strategies align? The closer your values are, the better your partnership will function outwardly to the public.

Reputation boost

Are both of your reputations enhanced by partnering together? The best partnerships are those where each company is on relatively even footing in the marketplace. If the reputation increase is lopsided, i.e., one company has a diminished reputation while the other gets a boost, that inequality will bear out on the partnership in the long run. It’s harder to make a pairing like that last. You want a fine wine with a fine cheese – not a fine cheese with a boxed wine.

Solution pairing

So how do the solutions stack up? Here, we’re focusing on how these partnerships can enhance the products of both companies. Your partners should bring in expertise that you don’t currently have in-house – and you should be responding in kind by delivering new tactics that your partner can leverage where they are spread too thin. Further, how does the future look for both companies’ solutions? Is there a chance for an eventual integration? That’s a huge bonus that we look for when we’re evaluating a potential partner.

Further, how does the future look for both companies’ solutions? Is there a chance for an eventual integration? That’s a huge bonus that we look for when we’re evaluating a potential partner.

Client benefit

How your clients will benefit from the partnership should also be top of mind. How can the potential partnership ensure your customer journey improves? Whether you’re targeting prospects or building out new features or services for existing customers to boost retention, you’ll want to map out how this partner will impact your client journey – and make sure it improves the experience at each step of the way.

Market access

Does the partnership help both parties explore new ground within the market? Does it open up new verticals? This isn’t about money but about ensuring both companies achieve a further reach in the market by combining forces.

Before entering into any partnerships, these are critical questions to ask. But there’s another one that I keep top of mind personally: Is the partner smart? I’m always looking for vendors and partners who introduce me to new ways of thinking, innovative thought leadership and are dedicated to helping everyone they interact with become better. That’s the gold standard – that’s the partnership we’re all after.

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