It’s no secret that not all partnerships are successful—in fact, up to 70% of partnerships end in failure. But in this field, success is not solely determined by the value or opportunities companies bring to the table. Instead, these relationships rely just as heavily on the experiences businesses provide to their partners.

Recently, Firneo CEO and Co-Founder Scott Pollack and EULER CEO and Co-Founder Greg Portnoy dissected the critical nuances of partner experience, clarifying the pivotal role this concept plays in shaping fruitful collaborations between businesses. They also shared invaluable insights and strategies for cultivating robust partner relationships and mitigating missteps along the way.

The Rise of Partner Experience

As partnerships continue to gain prominence in the business landscape, the importance of partner experience has grown exponentially. Greg said several factors have contributed to this phenomenon, including the shift from traditional channel partnerships to more integrated ecosystem models.

In what Greg described as a “partnerships renaissance,” businesses are working to redefine the nature of partnerships with a focus on integration, referral, and affiliate models. With this evolution comes increased competition—and a greater need for companies to differentiate themselves by offering superior partner experiences.

Differentiating Partner Experience from Customer Experience

According to Greg, partner experience closely resembles customer experience in some ways. However, it also encompasses every touchpoint partners have with the businesses they work with, from initial interactions to ongoing collaboration and mutual success. As Scott put it, “Partner experience is all about showing the value of partnering with you to your partners.”

Of course, this is far from the only factor separating the concepts of partner and customer experience. For example, Greg noted that customers typically receive more attention and prioritization than partners within organizations, but that doesn’t mean companies should neglect partner experience. The consequences of a poor partner experience can be far-reaching, affecting revenue, growth, and long-term relationships.

Incorporating Partner Experience into Partnership Initiatives

Scott and Greg went on to discuss the responsibility of managing partner experience within organizations. While dedicated roles such as Head of Partner Experience have begun to emerge in larger companies, most organizations rely on their partnership leaders to set standards and foster positive experiences.

According to Scott and Greg, partner experience should be viewed as a guiding principle of partnerships programs rather than a standalone component. To that end, Greg encouraged partnerships pros to consider partner experience while handling every element of their partnership initiatives, including documentation, onboarding processes, and collaborative engagement with partner teams.

Measuring Partner Experience

While measuring partner experience can be challenging, partnerships pros can still accomplish this goal when they have access to the right metrics and indicators. These include partner pipeline velocity, partner net promoter scores, and feedback mechanisms embedded in quarterly business reviews with partners. Despite the current limitations in measurement tools, actively seeking partner feedback and adapting strategies as needed can help partnerships leaders continually enhance partner experience.

Navigating Through Mistakes

Partnership journeys are often rife with hurdles, but Greg asserted that recovery from missteps is always possible. He stressed the need for swift identification of issues and transparent communication with partners. To avoid problems like these while fostering positive partner experience, Scott and Greg also underscored the significance of regular check-ins and touchpoints.

Even in situations where accountability may not entirely lie with one party, Greg advocated for assuming responsibility and implementing measures to prevent problems from recurring. Reflecting on his own experience building partner programs, he shared practical strategies for overcoming challenges, such as developing co-selling guides and establishing clear delineations of responsibility.

The Role of Technology in Partner Experience

According to Greg, technology plays a pivotal role in shaping partner experience. Unfortunately, traditional tools are often ill-suited for the dynamic partnership landscape and fall short in terms of leverage and efficiency.

Because of that, Greg advocated for the development of purpose-built platforms tailored to the nuanced workflows of partnerships teams. He said these tools should seamlessly integrate with existing CRM systems, offer real-time data insights, and streamline communication channels to enhance partner interactions.

Why Internal Alignment Matters

A high-quality partner experience begins when companies are internally aligned and people on all organizational levels understand the value of partnerships. After all, every department plays a role in shaping partner experience—from sales and marketing to customer success and beyond. That means a unified approach is essential for success.

Greg noted that partnerships pros are responsible for bringing these departments together and aligning stakeholders with their partnerships’ overarching goals. By explaining the tangible benefits of partnerships to their employer’s sales, marketing, product, and executive teams, partnerships leaders can garner the support and resources that will help them drive collaborative initiatives as effectively as possible.

The Value of Tiered Partner Programs

Tiered partner programs offer a structured framework for scaling partner experiences and incentivizing desired behaviors. Greg said partnerships leaders can use tier structures to offer different experiences to each of their partners based on their performance and strategic alignment. By providing customized benefits such as dedicated support, co-marketing opportunities, or access to executive leadership, organizations can incentivize partners to contribute to mutual growth objectives.

Exploring the Partner Experience with Firneo

Partnerships—and partner experience—are set to continue redefining business ecosystems for the foreseeable future. By prioritizing partner experience and embedding this concept into every facet of partnership initiatives, organizations can cultivate long-term relationships, drive revenue growth, and differentiate themselves in competitive markets. As Scott and Greg’s discussion illustrates, understanding and optimizing partner experience is essential for success in the modern business landscape.

To stay afloat in the dynamic world of partnerships, people working in this industry need a rock-solid playbook—especially if they didn’t get this playbook from their employer. Luckily, Firneo focuses on helping partnerships pros gain the knowledge and skills they’ll rely on for the rest of their careers. Sign up for our Mastering Partnerships Strategy course today!

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