Partnerships help us grow and succeed, both in our personal lives and in the business world. The best partnerships are a matter of chemistry and culture but also hard work. Indeed, you have to put time, energy, and effort upfront to realize their true potential.
After all, there can be a lot of risk in partnerships, but when instituted properly, this risk is far outweighed by the tremendous benefits. Developing a thoughtful B2B partnership strategy makes all the difference in creating successful partnerships. With just six proven strategies, you can keep joint projects on track, lines of communication open, and measure progress toward shared goals.
What Is a B2B Partnership?
A strategic B2B partnership is any partnership established between two companies in order to foster business growth for both parties. These partnerships are often established between two companies with a similar target market.
B2B partnerships can take many forms, from marketing deals to supplier agreements. Some potential and fruitful B2B partners can include:
- Industry experts to help expand your network and provide professional support
- Media and marketing agencies to publish content to reach your audience
- Web development or software companies to help improve your business systems and operations
- Distributors, suppliers, and vendors to help expand your product reach
- Businesses who sell complementary products to mutually boost profits
Benefits of a B2B Partnership Strategy
A strategic and well-thought-out B2B partnership can be a difference-maker for both parties in growing their businesses.
Some of the benefits of an effective B2B partnership strategy are:
- Establishing more opportunities to sell your product
- Boosting sales by adding more channels
- Expanding your reach to new markets and locations
- Growing your brand recognition among different audiences
- Improving or streamlining your business operations
- Accessing better tools and methods to improve your customer experience
How To Build a Strong B2B Partnership Strategy
No partnership thrives on its own. Effective B2B partnerships require consistent investment and thoughtful planning to be successful. Fortunately, you can implement just a few simple strategies to improve your business performance and ensure you get the most out of your partnerships.
Streamline Your Systems
In order to start developing partnerships, you need well-functioning systems to handle growth and meet your partner's needs. If you are developing a partnership with another business, you need to ensure that your business has the capacity to keep up with B2B ecommerce trends and keep partnerships running smoothly. You also want your potential partners to be able to reach you and communicate with you easily.
At Guidance, we offer a wide range of B2B ecommerce services to streamline your systems, increase visibility, and provide a foundation for sustainable partnerships. From adding integrations to automating workflows, our team helps set you up for success with your B2B partners and clients.
Understand Your Partner’s Goals
Partnerships thrive when both partners can reap the benefits of the business relationship. Therefore, it is vital that both parties are on the same page before implementation begins. The best way to do this is to establish the entire partnership strategy framework based on both parties’ goals and values. Understanding your partner’s goals will allow you to ensure that your methods are acting within their values and goals and that the partnership remains mutually beneficial.
For your business’s sake, remember that each partnership will provide its own unique value. Make sure to establish goals that fit within the scope of the partnership—you can always establish additional partnerships to improve other areas of your business.
Create a Strategic Plan to Reach the Goal
A strategic partnership plan defines partner roles, outlines strategic goals, and establishes benchmarks for success. Typically, this process will encompass weekly meetings, status reports, and delineating milestones to measure progress.
Part of establishing roles includes determining who will implement which parts of the plan and who the contact points are along the way. For example, a solid account management structure will give every client a clear person to turn to with their questions. It’s best left as a dedicated support role that’s main goal is ensuring clear understanding and success on both sides—this includes having a full grasp of responsibilities, deliverables, and progress toward objectives.
As part of determining how to structure a partnership, it will be essential to develop outcome-based metrics that will help you evaluate your partnership plan over time. It helps greatly if leaders invest themselves in the plan, it has high visibility, and all stakeholders are committed to implementing it.
Establish KPIs and Metrics to Measure Success
High-performance partnerships rely onkey performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics for monitoring business performance throughout the relationship. KPIs and metrics provide reassurance that your partnership is paying off and translating into true business success.
For example, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures how likely your customers are to recommend your products and services. Companies with a very high NPS have better growth and higher performance than low-scoring firms. This metric is one of many that can help gauge whether your partnership is yielding positive results—NPS growth during a partnership is a positive sign, while a drop in the score is a sign that you may need to adjust.
The right partner will seek out your feedback after every project and gauge changing levels of success with regularly scheduled surveys. This not only gives clients the opportunity to express their thanks but also acts as an early indicator of problems that can be fixed and improved. This ongoing self-evaluation is crucial to the success of the client, the partner, and their relationship.
Maintain Strong Communication
When determining how to structure a partnership, remember that communication and transparency are paramount to any healthy, long-term relationship. When building a strategic partnership strategy, both parties should establish communication norms and procedures to determine how to best connect with each other on a regular basis.
In today’s technology-driven era, there’s a tendency to rely heavily on e-mail, texting, and phone conversations. These can help you establish a consistent line of communication for important updates, but there’s no substitute for interacting in person. When possible, traveling to your partner’s home office provides a window into their character and the company’s culture.
After that, regular check-ins via video conference are a good way to maintain a strong rapport and connect face-to-face—this minimizes the chance for miscommunication and establishes a stronger bond. Whenever possible, face-to-face meetings are best for gleaning nuances that will help you establish, build, and maintain trust.
Reflect and Adapt
The most important thing to remember in any partnership is that circumstances change frequently, so no effective strategy is built on a “set it and forget it” approach. Use KPIs and metrics not only to monitor progress but also to inform next steps and adjust your plan when necessary.
Reflection is a vital part of a partnership strategy framework. If things are working well, then take a moment to reflect on why and consider how you can maintain that success. However, if progress is stagnant, reflect on what is going wrong and adapt your strategies to improve business performance.
Build a Strong B2B Partnership Strategy with Guidance
Strong performance partnerships rely on continuous investment and careful planning from all parties. Effective partnerships begin with a clear and coordinated B2B partnership strategy. After all, partners need to know what to expect of one another, have procedures for exchanging regular feedback, and establish benchmarks for measuring progress toward goals.
At Guidance, we strive to serve as an invaluable partner along the way. When you partner with an ecommerce agency like Guidance, you can revitalize your B2B relationships with our mid-market solutions and enterprise-level support. From our web development services to digital business integrations, we are here to help in every step of your B2B ecommerce development.