To set yourself and your partners up for success in 2024, you must focus on key areas that will shape the future of partnerships. Based on insights from industry experts in a recent webinar, here are the key learnings you need to know to thrive in this year.
We all see the success stories of Hubspot, Salesforce & co. According to the report “The State of Platforms” published this week, the very large 20 Marketplaces total will account for 80% of the entire marketplace revenue and share that's out there.
It's quite discouraging, because the battle for the long tail, the battle to be big, seems very long and difficult to achieve. All of these companies invested millions of dollars over almost 10 years for the results seen today.
So, there is a great desire to fall back on cloud marketplaces, in particular AWS Marketplace which communicates a lot and whispers in our ears that thanks to Amazon, you will generate millions with only 3% commission.
“So the question internally is would our customers benefit from our own niche marketplace? With Cloud Marketplaces, I actually have to come in and tighten up from hundreds of 1000s of choices.” Jay Mc Bain, Chief Analyst at Canalys.
The question may also not be “how to be the niche marketplace in my category?” Even if building a platform is the strongest moat any software company can build.
Because It is to not about being the next big marketplace in the same way the established marketplaces exist, neither put your strategy back to cloud marketplaces only.
It is really difficult today, in a crowded market and unstable industry, to define a clear and secure path to reach that goal successfully. The context today is vastly different than when those marketplaces launched.
That said, marketplaces now play a much central role in your indirect revenue strategy. It remains the most powerful generator of indirect income you can establish. So you have to think about building your own marketplace with a new way of thinking about it: your unified indirect revenue driver.
“The customer wants the ability to acquire everything they need to get that outcome that they're looking for, and one of the conclusions of this report was this has become an outcome based world and a platform and a marketplace and all the different parts and pieces derive that outcome in one place.” Jay Mc Bain, Chief Analyst at Canalys..
Your customers today want an outcome-based buying experience. They want a one-stop shop to acquire everything required to achieve a desired result. A marketplace, along with the partners and services in it, provides that. It allows you to meet the need for an overall solution by bundling software, expertise, support and more.
You do not need millions of dollars and 10 years to develop a marketplace. Determine how a marketplace could benefit your customers. Start with a few trusted, vetted partners that extend your offering and provide value to customers. Build from there.
“if you're a partner leader, you are an indirect revenue optimizer just like the CRO is the direct revenue optimizer.” Asher Matthew, CEO at Partnership Leaders.
As a partner manager in 2024, you need to adapt to the new normal. The old ways of managing partnerships are outdated. It is no longer only a question of being satisfied with regular metrics readings: how many leads are generated, or how much revenue is generated. It is also no longer a question of trying to apply your internal recipe to all your partners, such as training partners in your sales methods, or certifying your partners because they know the functionalities of your product.
Customer needs and expectations have evolved, as have the ways they research, evaluate and purchase solutions. Customers today want the ability to acquire everything they need to achieve their desired outcomes in one place. As a partner manager, your role is to enable this by curating a network of trusted partners and facilitating a seamless customer experience across them.
The modern partner relationship management process will monitor, measure and optimize the hundreds of non-transactional touchpoints in the customer journey, not just the final transaction. Three key activities are
Your customers will spend their money according to their preferences. Identify the trusted partners and platforms your customers prefer, and make sure you have a strong presence there. Offer your products, services and support in the places your customers are already looking to make purchases.
Today's customers want a seamless experience and expect to find trusted partners wherever they choose to purchase. Carefully analyze where your customers spend their budgets and ensure key partners have a presence in each location. Rather than dictating where customers should buy from partners, meet them where they want to shop. Support partners financially and operationally to make their offerings available across channels and marketplaces. An outcome-based buying experience will soon be standard, so facilitating customer access to the right partners and solutions is essential.
You must identify where your customers are already spending their money and which partners they trust. Rather than dictate the “best” solution, meet your customers where they are and support the partners they choose.
Let customers buy where and how they want; then support those paths to purchase. Focus on enabling the outcomes customers want, not dictating the journey.
An outcome-based program will be the norm by 2024. Your partners can either accelerate or inhibit your revenue and margins, so you must financially support and incentivize the partners that drive outcomes for your customers. It does not matter whether a customer buys directly, through a partner, or on a marketplace. You must enable their path to purchase and share in the revenue and data generated.
To be successful as a partner manager in 2024, you must adopt an outcome-based mindset for your program. This means focusing on how your partners can help customers achieve their desired outcomes, not just on partner recruitment or short-term sales targets. Provide the resources, incentives and tooling partners need to help customers achieve their goals.
An outcome-based approach will allow you to build strategic, long-term relationships with partners that provide real value to customers. The reality is, you likely won’t become the next major platform. But by focusing on outcome-based relationships over scale, you can build a meaningful partner program that drives significant indirect revenue and provides real value to customers. Start small by identifying a few key partners, learn what works, and build from there. As you expand the program, prioritize the quality and depth of each partnership over the total number of partners.
An outcome-based mindset also means ensuring your company’s internal teams are aligned and incentivized to support partners in delivering customer outcomes. Work closely with customer success, product, marketing and other groups to identify how they can contribute to the overall customer experience. Be an advocate for your partners across the organization.
With an outcome-based program, partner managers in 2024 can drive meaningful impact and position themselves as strategic leaders. By cultivating deep, trusted relationships, you help enable the end-to-end experience today’s customers demand. Though the path may differ from major marketplaces, the destination can be just as valuable. Focus on what matters to your customers and partners, and build from there.
Partnerships are key. Optimize indirect revenue by empowering partners with the means to do more for your mutual customers.
To be successful partner managers in 2024, you must follow your customers and align with their trusted partners. Customers today want outcomes, not products, and they will turn to the partners and platforms that can deliver those outcomes.
Not every company will build a marketplace on the scale of Salesforce AppExchange or HubSpot Marketplace. But marketplaces will play a central role in 2024, representing the most powerful generator of indirect income.
The keys to success for partner managers in 2024 are clear:
The future is indirect, outcomes-driven, and built on trust. Partner managers who can navigate this new paradigm will thrive.
While data and metrics will continue to shape the role, never lose sight of the human relationships that are the foundation of partnership. If you provide value, communicate openly, and operate with integrity, you will build partnerships that stand the test of time and drive mutual growth. The future is bright for partner managers who embrace empathy, innovation and shared success. Now go out there, learn, build, and prosper. The opportunities are endless.
Provide a curated set of choices, not hundreds of thousands of options. Build a solution ecosystem to achieve specific customer outcomes. Keep customer needs at the center and remember, you don’t have to follow the old recipes. Forge your own path to partner success in 2024 ;)
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