Data shows that companies that provide a great Partner Experience are more successful at establishing and maintaining strong relationships with their partners, resulting in long-term success. This makes sense when you consider that partner experience is the overall perception that partners develop through their various interactions with your company.

Positive experiences lead to trust between partners, which enables continued collaboration over time. When partners trust you and enjoy working with you, they are more likely to align strategies, co-innovate, invest mutually, and share in success together. In contrast, negative partner experiences degrade trust and make it difficult to build the types of strategic partnerships that yield results.

Therefore, to achieve long-term success via partnerships, companies must make partner experience a top priority. The data clearly shows that strong partner experiences correlate highly with mutually beneficial and enduring partner relationships. By focusing on continuously improving partner experience, companies can increase partnership satisfaction and in turn drive growth and profitability over time.

Defining Partner Experience

Partner experience varies slightly from company to company, but is generally based on the perceptions partners develop through their interactions. Key elements that shape the partner experience include:

  • Interactions with the company overall
  • Interactions with the partner program
  • Interactions with the company’s technology
  • Partner enablement programs
  • Interactions with the company’s staff

The partner experience is an aggregation of all these interactions. Companies that aim to provide a great partner experience need to look holistically across the organization and partner program.

Building Strong Partnerships

Strong partnerships are rooted in trust and enabled through continued collaboration. This collaboration includes several key elements:

  • Strategy alignment – Partners must align their strategies with each other to ensure they are working towards common goals and objectives. Misaligned strategies often lead to conflict.

  • Co-innovation – Partners should look for opportunities to innovate together, whether that’s developing new products and services or finding better ways to go to market. Co-innovation deepens the relationship.

  • Mutual investment – Partners must invest in each other, both financially and through dedicated resources. This demonstrates commitment to the partnership.

  • Partner enablement – Partners should enable each other by providing training, tools, and support. This empowers the partnership to execute more effectively.

  • Shared success – Partners must share in each other’s successes and failures. This builds trust and transparency within the partnership.

When partnerships exhibit these elements of collaboration, it strengthens the relationship by building trust and enabling joint execution. This active collaboration is key to creating mutually beneficial and sustainable strategic partnerships.

The Challenge of Keeping Partnerships Active

According to a recent BPI Network survey, 45% of executives believe that the biggest challenge when it comes to strategic partnerships is keeping them active and mutually rewarding. This statistic highlights the difficulty many companies face in sustaining engagement and value from their partnerships over time.

The initial establishment of a partnership is just the first step. The real work begins in nurturing that relationship and ensuring it continues to meet the needs of both parties long-term. If partnerships are not actively managed, the enthusiasm and strategic alignment that brought the two organizations together can fade.

To keep partnerships active and mutually beneficial, companies must dedicate resources to maintaining open communication, identifying new opportunities for collaboration, and tracking metrics to demonstrate the partnership’s impact. This requires an ongoing commitment from leadership and staff at multiple levels of each organization.

Partners must check in regularly to assess if the partnership strategy still aligns with business objectives as they evolve. Companies should also seek regular feedback from partners on their experience and work to improve pain points surfaced. By proactively strengthening engagement, partners will feel invested in contributing to joint success.

Keeping partnerships active and mutually rewarding over their entire lifecycle is crucial for generating the maximum value. With consistent relationship management, companies can build partnerships that stand the test of time and deliver results.

Assessing Your Partner Program

A holistic assessment of your partner program and its components is crucial for strengthening the partner experience. There are 5 key areas to examine:

Aligned Channel Strategy

Your channel strategy must align to your overall corporate strategy in order to reduce internal conflict and ensure your partners are working towards the same goals as the rest of your organization. Assess how your channel strategy fits with the larger business strategy. Look for areas of misalignment that could undermine partner relationships.

Clear Program Structure

The structure of your partner program should be clear, simple, and agile enough to scale. Evaluate whether your program tiers, requirements, and benefits allow partners to easily understand how to advance. Identify any overly complex or confusing elements of your program structure.

Efficient Channel Operations

Assess the breadth and depth of your channel operations. Do you provide partners with the operational support they need to drive success? Look for gaps in your onboarding, training, marketing, and sales enablement. Smooth channel operations build partner trust.

Strong Partnering Culture

A culture that values partnering should permeate your entire organization – across sales, marketing, services, and product teams. Examine how each department engages with and supports partners. Instilling an organization-wide culture focused on partnerships enables collaboration.

Enabled and Empowered Staff

Your staff must be equipped with the skills and authority to build strong partner relationships. Evaluate their partnering knowledge, resources, and empowerment levels. Partners can sense if account managers lack proper enablement and gravitate towards vendors who empower staff.

As The Partnering Success Company, AchieveUnite provides the science and the art for assessing and enhancing these areas with our Value Measurement Index (VMi™) and a suite of people development programs, including the Partner Performance Advisor (PPA) Certification.

The Value Measurement Index (or VMi™) is a tool that enables you to complete a comprehensive assessment of your partner program. This tool is highly beneficial if you are a new CRO or Channel/Partner Chief who must establish a baseline. It allows you to make informed decisions about key program areas, including:

  • The next generation of your program
  • Who your partners should be
  • Key investment areas for the highest return
  • Top partner experience improvement areas

This tool goes beyond the NPS benchmark score by offering a deeper level of actionable insights that give your team meaningful guidance on where, when, why, and how to turn up and down the dials of your program.

In times of economic uncertainty, VMi™ has proven to bring our clients greater internal alignment around investments, leading to a greater return. To learn more, take our free VMi™️ Lite Assessment