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Partnering's Next Era: What's Ahead in Channel Trends?

In today's ever-evolving business landscape, it's crucial to adapt to changing dynamics, especially when it comes to partnering. The way companies collaborate with partners has seen a significant shift in recent years, and it's not just a fleeting trend. Recently, we sat down with Rob Spee at the Channel Journeys podcast to delve deep into the transformative world of partnering, exploring why it's here to stay, how it can be a game-changer for your business, and the essential strategies to succeed.

Keep reading to learn key insights from our discussion or listen to the full podcast here.

The evolution of partnerships

The surge in partnering isn't a knee-jerk reaction to economic hardships. It's the beginning of a profound transformation in business relationships.

Partnerships have become a vital part of the business fabric, contributing significantly to operational efficiency. The era of partnering isn't merely a reaction to external challenges; it's a strategic evolution that businesses are embracing for the long haul.

Efficiency is the cornerstone of this new era of partnering. With businesses constantly seeking ways to optimize their operations, partnering has proven to be an invaluable asset.

"The efficiencies businesses find in the indirect model, those are clearly strong enough that this is a trend that's here to stay."

These efficiencies extend across various aspects of business, from cost reduction to customer acquisition, and even the longevity of customer relationships. The partnering model boasts a unique cost structure that reduces customer acquisition costs while providing partners with added margin. This combination is driving businesses to reconsider their traditional go-to-market strategies.

A shift in business perspectives

So why should your company build partnering as a core element of its go-to-market strategy? There are two compelling reasons. First, the dialogue within companies is evolving. It's no longer just about partner efficiency; it's about the overall efficiency of the business. Businesses are looking beyond their P&Ls and considering the macro-level health of their operations.

By embracing partnering, companies are witnessing a shift in their cost structures and resource allocations, leading to increased profitability and healthier customer relationships.

Second, and just as importantly, end-users are no longer passive participants in the buying process. They've become more sophisticated, seeking comprehensive solutions rather than standalone products.

Customers now rely on partners for an independent voice in the sales process and trust the ecosystem to help them make informed purchase decisions. This shift in customer behavior underscores the enduring value of the partnering model.

"Customers are looking more towards the partnering community for information, for consultancy, pre-sales."

For established companies, particularly those with well-entrenched direct sales models, transitioning to a partnering-centric approach can be challenging. Yet, it's not impossible. For those looking to make this transition, the question arises: What would it look like? How do you build an integrated go-to-market strategy that combines direct and indirect approaches seamlessly?

Starting an ecosystem from scratch

Imagine you're a startup with a clean slate and a vision to leverage the partner ecosystem. How would you go about building your integrated go-to-market strategy?

In an ideal scenario, the startup would build a compensation-neutral strategy, ensuring that partners are well-compensated and motivated without creating conflicts between direct and indirect channels. A balanced margin allocation becomes crucial to partner success, ensuring they remain profitable and committed to the partnership.

Building a unified go-to-market strategy requires several key steps. To start, seek partner input. Engage with potential partners and gather their opinions on your program. What elements do they want, and what do they not want? Actively involve them in the strategy-building process.

Then, develop rules of engagement that clearly define how direct and indirect channels interact. These rules should anticipate potential conflicts and provide guidance on resolution. Create a transparent and comprehensive document that outlines how your partners will collaborate and compete within your ecosystem.

✅ Level up: Find our full guide on starting and scaling your ecosystem here.

Measuring and incentivizing performance

Incentives play a pivotal role in partner success. It's essential to recognize and reward partners appropriately for their contributions. However, one size does not fit all.

Recognizing the diverse roles that partners play in deals is vital. Create reward programs that reflect the partner's contribution, whether it's originated, led, influenced, or assisted deals. This tailored approach fosters a sense of fairness and encourages partners to excel in their unique roles.

Understanding the impact of partnering on your business also requires robust tracking and measurement. To do this effectively, you must measure the origination of deals from partners.

Attribution models can help you identify which partners are driving opportunities, which are accelerating deals, and which are closing them. Armed with this data, you can make informed decisions about where to invest resources and how to optimize your partner ecosystem further.

🔎 Discover more: Learn more about the next era of partner attribution models in our webinar with Forrester.

Preparing for the future of channel trends

To gain buy-in from your C-suite for your partnering efforts, communicate in the language of business. Focus on metrics that matter, like revenue generation and deal velocity. Break down your channel analytics and provide meaningful insights that showcase the impact of your partner ecosystem directly on the bottom line.

"You have to speak to the C-suite in the terms that they're going to care about."

One of the critical components of this approach is channel operations. This role ensures that your partnering efforts align with your broader go-to-market strategy. By merging channel operations with sales operations under a unified go-to-market operations team, companies can break down silos and ensure that every aspect of their strategy is aligned.

This alignment becomes even more crucial as companies expand their ecosystem beyond traditional resellers to include service delivery and implementation partners.

The future is partner-centric

The next era of partnering is not just a fleeting trend; it's a transformative shift in the business landscape. Partnering has become integral to companies' go-to-market strategies, driving efficiency, customer trust, and profitability.

To thrive in this new era, businesses must:

  • Embrace a partner-first strategy as a core element of their growth
  • Balance direct and indirect channels effectively
  • Engage partners in strategy-building
  • Implement transparent rules of engagement
  • Align channel operations with broader business operations
  • Tailor reward programs to partners' unique contributions
  • Invest in robust tracking and measurement tools

Partnering isn't just about collaboration; it's about strategic evolution. By recognizing the enduring value of partnerships and adopting the right strategies, your business can stay ahead in this dynamic era of partnering, ultimately driving growth, profitability, and customer satisfaction.

In this ever-changing business landscape, partnering is not just a trend; it's the future. Are you ready to embrace it?

Build your partner ecosystem with Impartner

Each day millions of partners in nearly every industry across the globe access Impartner. Why? Because the partner experience matters and leading channel organizations agree.

Impartner is the fastest-growing, most award-winning channel management solution provider on the market. Our partner relationship management (PRM) and through channel marketing automation (TCMA) solutions help companies accelerate revenue and profitability through their indirect sales channels at every partner lifecycle touchpoint. From partner training and certifications to communications, business planning, and performance compliance, Impartner handles it all and more with best practices and automation built-in.

Need to accelerate your partnerships? We’re ready when you are.

About the Author

Dave R. Taylor is a successful tech entrepreneur with five exits under his belt. Having started his career at Intel Corporation as a Product Manager, Dave has how run marketing as CMO at seven successive companies, and always has as his top priority a focus on demand generation, working closely with sales teams to hit revenue growth targets. He counts as his top skill the recruitment and retention of amazingly high performing marketing teams. Born and raised in Boston, Dave has lived in the UK, South Africa, the Middle East, and all over the U.S., and now resides in Utah and Montana.

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