One of the smartest, most business-savvy moves a company can make is building a strategic partnerships program. Partnerships are the backbone of how a lot of companies make big things happen. A strategic partnership is a move that could increase your audience, build your brand, and give you access to entirely new markets.

We typically think, “just make more sales, that’s an easy way to get new revenue through the door.” But, most of the time, it’s not that simple. There’s a lot of lead nurturing, cold calls, and a lot of groundwork the sales team will need to put in. This is where strategic partnerships will pay off.

By working with another company to push toward common goals, there’s a lot to achieve both internally and externally. There’s a lot to love about two teams working together for a common goal – sure, both companies can potentially drive sales, but it’s also a chance to build a team between two networks, which can strengthen brand value across the board.

So, what is a strategic partner, exactly?

A strategic partnership is a relationship between you and another business wherein you work together to achieve greater successes and provide greater value to mutual customers.

If you have a rapport with others in your industry, you can position your company as a thought leader, which can increase your reach. With more friends and more credibility, you’ll discover opportunities for creating content, participating in events, and raising awareness.

SaaS (Software as a Service) companies in the expansion stage can discover avenues for growth, while Startups looking to expand their reach can acquire long-term customers by partnering with companies who have similar goals and a complementary vision.

There are a few types of strategic partners that could work for your business:

Strategic Financial Partners

Strategic financial partners can be investors, accountants, bankers, or even an advisor. These partners help keep an eye on finances, but also help create new solutions to increase how you’re making sales or how to tighten the belt when times are lean.

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Strategic Technology Partners

These are the folks who can help you with software that changes how you do business or those who design and implement networks. For example, if you’re a podcaster, maybe one of your promotional spots is dedicated to the company who designed your site.

Strategic Marketing Partners

Probably the most common of strategic partnerships, strategic marketing partnerships help grow business with little overall cost. This is the perfect avenue for trading blogs, launching a joint campaign, hosting joint webinars, or sharing a booth at a trade show.

There are also partnerships on the sales side:

  • Value-Added Resellers: Another company that sells your product or service for a commission or revenue credit. If you make it worthwhile for these agents to sell your product, they’ll hustle hard to close every deal possible, which helps with adoption and will also drive brand recognition across new channels.
  • Referral Channels: These partners pass on sales leads for a base commission or revenue share, but let your sales team close deals.

How does my company build a strategic partnership program?

Get to know the companies in your space, find out who’s small, who’s more prominent, and who’s making some noise. Is there a team you’re dying to get to know because you love what they’re doing or how they’re approaching the market? Do the research and find out who would be the right fit to align with. Maybe it’s a company who can help you get customers, or more visibility via their blog.

Once you’ve established who you think is the right fit, it’s time to engage. Mine your network, see who knows who. LinkedIn and Facebook can be valuable tools for this. If you share a connection, ask for an intro. Once you’ve made the connection, get your team on board. Immediate buy-in is critical if the partnership is going to work. Both teams will be working toward a common goal: making new friends and acquiring new customers along the way.

And finally: be strategic.

Don’t just tie wagons with any company that comes to you. Building strategic relationships are about mutual value, not whatever opportunity falls in your lap. The best partnerships occur when products, customers, and culture align, rather than compete, with one another.

If you’re going to dedicate resources to craft partnerships, something to consider is putting a member of your team in charge of strategic partnerships. Creating a role within your company for strategic partnerships is the smart move. There needs to be a plan put in place, and that job needs to be a dedicated daily gig. This is how you build the foundation for a successful partner program.

The power of relationships is what drives business. If your team is lucky enough to partner with a well-respected company or product team, many times that validation will drive growth in new and unexpected ways. Plus, the name alignment will help generate new clients and revenue. If you’re proactive and hustle, you can expand the brand and drive new growth that can change the business – all by making friends and finding new ways to grow at low cost.

Kimberly Anderson
Director of Strategic Partnerships