B2B Partnership Programs: An Actionable Guide for 2024

Aaron Marco Arias
Last edited on Jun 21, 2024

A good B2B partnership program could be one of your keys to growing sustainably in 2024. 

In short, a partnership program allows you to reap the benefits of word-of-mouth, systematically and at scale. 

This strategy is especially powerful in a context where users are constantly bombarded with poorly targeted messages, new marketing channels pop up and lose momentum, and preferences are shifting quickly. Your partners could help you build rapport and get in front of a qualified audience in a cost-efficient, future-proofed way. However, unrolling a partnership program is not as easy as it may seem.

In this post, we’ll cover the most common partnership management challenges that companies face. 

We’ll also cover:

  • Which KPIs these challenges affect
  • How to overcome them, step-by-step
  • Recommended content assets 

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Common Partnership Management Challenges [& Recommended Solutions]

We’ve divided these common challenges into 3 categories, depending on what stage of your partnership management process they appear in. 

These categories are:

  • Recruitment
  • Activation
  • Retention

Let’s dive in.

Partner recruitment challenges

Partner recruitment challenges relate to your ability to attract, qualify, and onboard potential partners. Partners just never appear. And when they do, they’re not a good match. 

Companies often struggle to:

  • Attract qualified partners consistently
  • Properly assess whether a partner is qualified

These struggles often cause:

  • A low number of closed new partnerships
  • A high percentage of disqualified partners

Solution

We recommend you:

  • Develop a clear partner profile - often, having low-impact partners is the result of not knowing what you’re actually looking for. Develop a partner persona and outline their key characteristics. Spoiler: One of them should be “privileged” access to your target demographic, whether as a respected peer or as an authority figure.
  • Build a marketing strategy for your partner program - make sure you market your partnership program. It shouldn’t outshine other goals, such as product sign-ups or paid conversions. And it doesn’t have to be a high-profile campaign. You can market “behind closed doors”, to your existing customers. But make sure you have initiatives that allow potential partners to find this opportunity.

Content recommendations

To overcome these challenges, you’ll need the following assets:

  • Landing page for potential partners that dissipates objections and highlights your program’s unique value
  • Partnership program announcement email to send to potential partners already on your email list
  • Partner qualification questionnaire that can help you filter out bad-fit candidates automatically
  • Valuable-packed welcome email for qualified prospects

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Need a partner that can help you set this up? From design, to copy and strategy, we’ve got you covered. Book a free consulting call to get started. 

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Partner activation challenges

Partner activation challenges are the result of an inability to help your partners start bringing in opportunities. Partners sign up but they never refer any new clients or users.

Companies often struggle to:

  • Create a sense of urgency and importance that motivates allies to prioritize the partnership.
  • Empower partners to engage prospects in an effective way.

You’ll see these challenges reflected in:

  • Low activation rates
  • Low partner-driven revenue

Solution

We recommend you:

  • Set and align expectations - often, partners aren’t excited enough about the program’s rewards. Set clear expectations from the get-go, and filter out companies that aren’t willing to enthusiastically support your business.
  • Empower your partners with informational content & other resources - give your partners a consistent stream of information they can use to educate themselves (and your potential clients) on your solution’s impact.
  • Review your rewards system to create a sense of urgency

Pro-tip: Navigate towards brands that can seamlessly integrate your product/services into their own services. If your partners can use you to enrich their relationships with their clients, win new business for themselves, and reinforce their standing as experts, they’ll be highly motivated to activate. 

Content recommendations

To overcome these challenges, you’ll need the following assets:

  • Onboarding sequence - share actionable information and set common goals. Help your partners set up a process to bring you new opportunities. Let them know that you’re in this together and you’re always available to help.
  • Pitch deck for referred prospects - ideally, this asset should be editable, so your partners can add their own branding and complementary messaging. Your best partnerships will come with some form of co-marketing, so welcome and encourage it.
  • Landing page for referred prospects  - maybe you can add a special offering to sweeten the deal. Trust + an exclusive deal = higher chance of conversion.
  • Fact sheet to make sure your partner has a source of truth and can offer accurate information to your prospect.

Pro-tip: Worried that the content you create may not be useful to your partners? Keep a solid line of communication so they can pitch content ideas. Additionally, you could offer your partners a privileged spot to guest post on your blog. 

Partner retention challenges

Partner retention challenges relate to your ability to keep partners engaged in the long run.

Companies often struggle to keep partners engaged in the long run.

This often causes:

Solution

We recommend you:

  • Design a long-term engagement plan - how will you help your partners’ relationship with your brand evolve over time? Will they get lifetime commissions? Will they rise up to different tiers with new incentives?
  • Celebrate your partners’ achievements - go out of your way to congratulate high-impact partners, offer them some 1-on-1 time, and, of course, don’t forget to pay them properly and on-time. 
  • Nurture your partners consistently - nurturing isn’t over after onboarding. Create a sense of long-term commitment by sharing valuable assets and information with your partners every week/month.

Content recommendations

To overcome these challenges, we recommend creating a package of automated emails to make your partners feel “taken care of” during the entire partnership. Don’t forget to include the following:

  • Congratulations email for when a partner-attributed lead converts.
  • Custom monthly digest with the partner’s metrics for the month, tips, and useful content.
  • Support docs explaining your program’s incentives system in detail.
  • Reactivation sequence for dormant partners.

Need Help? Your First 15 Minutes Are on Us

There are dozens of platforms out there that can handle your partnership program’s heavy lifting. From payment processing to automated email notifications. But, how will you position your program? What tone and wording will you use to connect with the right partners? What’s the best structure for your partnership program’s landing page? What should your pitch deck look like?

We’ll help you answer these questions and get your partnership program on the right track. Book a free consulting call today.

Partnership FAQs

What exactly is a partnership program, and how can it benefit my startup?

A partnership program is a strategic alliance between your startup and other businesses where you mutually promote each other's products or services. It can benefit your startup by:

  • Scaling up & systematizing word-of-mouth
  • Helping you reach a qualified audience cost-effectively 
  • Building meaningful connections in a crowded market

What’s the best time of the year to start a partnership program?

The ideal time to start a partnership program largely depends on your industry and target audience. However, many businesses find success launching their partnership programs at the beginning of a new year, during industry-relevant events or conferences, or before major shopping seasons like the holidays. Starting your program at a strategic time can help you capitalize on increased market activity and enthusiasm, ensuring a strong initial response from potential partners.

Should my partnership program have tiers?

Yes, implementing tiers in your partnership program can be highly beneficial.  Tiers provide a sense of structure and progress that can keep partners motivated. By offering different tiers you can create a sense of achievement for partners as they progress. Each tier can come with its own set of incentives, ensuring that partners are motivated to climb the partnership ladder.

Need further assistance with your partnership program? Feel free to book a free consulting call with us. We'll help you navigate the complexities and set your partnership program on the path to success!

Get in touch today, have a full Content Operation running in under 3 weeks.

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