In my last article, I shared about the five forces we’re seeing across the tech industry that are impacting partnering success in today’s complex landscape.

After a thought-provoking conversation around these forces with the AchieveUnite Strategy Advisory Board, a group of senior leaders and advisors from across the technology industry, here is a deeper dive into 3 of these forces impacting the next era of partnering.

1. Multi-layer relationships within partner ecosystems are the future.

Partnering success will require the entire partner ecosystem to actively work together to build, sell, and service comprehensive solutions that deliver customer business outcomes. The complexity of technology and the specificity of customer demands make it very difficult for any single organization to deliver the desired customer outcomes. For example, over 80% of digital ecosystems are a collaboration between partners from four or more industries, and the majority of customer buying journeys have an average of 65 touch points.

These multi-layer relationships will require a change in mindset and the development of trust throughout the entire ecosystem. Partners in the ecosystem need to stop trying to get every component of a solution and focus on those areas where they can provide the most value. They need to collaborate with other partners to jointly develop the best solution. Partners need to trust that all partners are working toward the best solution for the customer and not trying to increase their revenue or margins at the expense of customer success.

As Matt Cook, VP Global Partner Organization at Ciena, stated in a recent AchieveUnite LinkedIn Live“Control the outcome, not the customer. Vendors and partners should not attempt to control their customers (or other partners), they should focus on controlling customer outcomes.” The emphasis should be on collaboration with customers and the partner ecosystem to deliver the business outcomes customers are demanding.

This shift from account control to outcome control needs to be embraced by the channel organization and the sales reps. Reps need to be coached on this new approach because controlling the client will not be an option in the future. They will also need to understand that controlling the outcome requires collaboration with the multiple layers within the partner ecosystem.

The growth and scale of the partner ecosystem are reliant on the increasingly common multi-layer partnerships. One example of this is Partner-to-Partner (P2P) programs and incentives. After investing in joint go-to-market and selling activities of their P2P program, Microsoft saw a 223% increase in co-selling transactions, a 10-20% increase in revenue, and $8B+ in annual IP co-sell partner revenue.

Heather Tenuto, Chief Revenue Officer at Zift Solutions, shares, “The evolving ecosystem means that we not only need to enable the supplier/partner relationship but the partner/partner relationship as well. In addition, while many partner programs in the past focused on driving more sales transactions, we now see programs driving multiple events along the prospect and customer journey. This increases the degree of difficulty in providing a great partner experience. Suppliers are leaning on channel technologies that can handle these complex relationships and will continue to evolve with changes in the ecosystem.”

Companies realizing the most value from their partner ecosystems are embracing the multi-layer model, and are enabling, incentivizing, and supporting P2P engagements that deliver customer outcomes.

2.    It’s more than just co-investment.

“Co-investment” is almost too limiting. Co-investment, co-creation, co-designing, and collaborating at scale are all critical to partnering success. The days of creating something and giving it to our partners to figure out how to sell are over. Everything must be done collaboratively.

This approach is compelling to partners and will differentiate you from other providers. Many surveys have identified “the ability to innovate” as the biggest consideration for partners when choosing a new vendor as a provider. Co-innovation, co-creation, and collaboration with your partners increase opportunities across the ecosystem and lead to greater joint value for your partners, customers, and company.

Companies can explore co-innovation opportunities with their strategic partners by identifying compatible offerings, jointly investing in technology and solutions, and collaborating on joint offerings. Examples include New Micro Vertical Solutions and New Service Offerings. At AchieveUnite, we facilitate custom channel workshops, known as Accelerate Workshops, that complement the business planning process and help you harness the power of joint innovation and collaboration.

3.    Invest in all people

Today, vendors not only have an obligation to the development and support of their internal people but also to their partners’ people. As I shared in my last articleorganizations that invest in their people early on through leadership and skills development programs see increased performance, engagement, and retention rates.

Vendors and Service Providers have an incredible opportunity to lead the change across the channel and partner ecosystem by investing in people development, partner engagement, and partner planning simultaneously!

Taking programs such as the Partnering Quotient Index (PQi®)Partner Performance Advisor, ACE: Leadership by Influence, or Leading through Complexity to your partners as MDF-able opportunities is a powerful way to show your commitment to their business, build trust, and differentiate yourself from your competition.

Are you ready to drive mutual growth and success across your partner ecosystem? I would love to hear how are you finding success in the evolution of your ecosystem!