Partner Marketing Strategies For B2B Growth

One of the easiest ways to achieve your business goals is to partner with another company.

A well positioned marketing partner can help you fill your sales pipeline. And help you grow your business in other ways, too. There’s a reason 57% of large companies use marketing partnerships to speed up client acquisition. It works!

In this article we’ll look at how to do partner marketing to get high value sales leads.

Partner Marketing

How To Find A Marketing Partner

Finding the perfect marketing partners for your business isn’t difficult. You just need to ensure your relationship helps both companies.


What do I need?

Before you start calling potential partners, decide what you need from the relationship. The answer is obvious – more clients. Duh! But try and think smaller if you can. Maybe you only need an input that will help you get more clients on your own. The less you need, the less you have to give up in return.


Who has what I want?

When you know what you need, finding people that have it is usually pretty easy. A lead prospecting company can help you develop a potential partner list. And help you with the process of email outreach.


What do they need?

Ask yourself what the other party hopes to gain from your marketing partnership. The answer isn’t always money. Sometimes they want to get access to expertise they don’t have. Or otherwise add more value to their business. When you can answer these 3 questions with confidence and depth then you are ready to get started. Here are partner marketing models for you to explore.

Symbiotic Partner Marketing

strategic partner marketing
Some businesses compliment each other perfectly. They have a similar client base, and aren’t direct competition to one another. Also, they add value to one another.

Consider a local doctor with unused office space. If she still wants new patients then she wouldn’t want to share office space with another doctor. But a family dentist would be perfect! They have the same clients. And they can both can get some new patients just by occupying the same office space.

Moreover, the doctor and dentist can refer patients to one another. And they can share in the cost of branding and advertising their combined services.

B2B solutions can enjoy the same sort of symbiosis.

Consider a web designer and an online marketing specialist. Both businesses organically enhance one another by providing a wider field of expertise. Clients needing one service will probably need the services of the other.

A new website with no marketing has little value. And marketing campaigns frequently need website changes to improve lead conversion.

Similarly, an HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) firm could partner with an engineering firm. There is overlap between the work requirements, and the client base is identical.

As the scope of a project evolves, client don’t have have time (or expertise) to research new vendors.

They rely on experts they’ve already hired to suggest a good provider. This makes leads generated by symbiotic partners powerful. The work is essentially ‘given’ to you by your partners. This means your cost per lead is almost zero. And your sales lead conversion rate is ridiculously high.

Referral-Based Partner Marketing

In a symbiotic relationship the businesses support one another equally. And the sales leads generated go both ways.

But most businesses aren’t set up to help one another like this. In a referral relationship, sales introductions go mostly in one direction.

For example, accountants are very well positioned to refer business to other companies. As a trusted adviser, accountants can suggest what bank to use. Or they can introduce a business loan agent to help secure operating capital. They can even refer clients to an insolvency professional.

In almost all these cases the partner wouldn’t be able to reciprocate sales leads. So why should the accountant bother?

First, by partnering with quality companies the accountant knows they’re helping their clients. Second, the accountant can usually earn some form of compensation.

Referral relationships are hard to set up, but worth the effort. You’ll get high value sales leads handed to you on a silver platter. And your partner will know they are doing what’s best for their clients.

Ultimately, when the client wins, everyone wins.

It’s nice to think that other businesses will send you clients because they believe you can add value. But sometimes a little financial incentive goes a long way. After all, your partners can send business to any firm in town. Why should they choose you?

Some companies pay an informal “thank you bounty” of 5% to 15% when deals go through. But if you decide to pay for referrals, document the arrangement. Informal arrangements are nice, but everyone should know exactly what to expect.

For referral fees, the two most common arrangements are Pay Per Lead and Pay Per Sale.


Pay Per Lead

In a Pay Per Lead arrangement you compensate your partner for any (qualified) lead they send.

Some of the sales leads sent by partners won’t become clients, but if the cost per lead is low enough then that won’t matter. Pay well for high value introductions. If you know your average deal value is over $3000 then it makes sense to pay $200 or more for these high value sale leads.

The nice thing about Pay Per Lead is that it’s easy to track. There is no ambiguity – when a partner’s sales lead comes in, they immediately get paid.


Pay Per Sale

In a Pay Per Sale arrangement, the partner gets paid when a sale goes through. This is usually a fixed amount per sale or a percentage of the deal value. This type of partnership is great for the company receiving the sales leads. They have no marketing risks, and only pay a commission when payment is received.

While great for you, this sort of arrangement is difficult to manage. B2B solutions usually have a long sales cycle. That’s unattractive to the referring company because everyone has to remember they leads they sent. And you have to track how deals originated months after first contact. You also need to continually update your partner on the deal status. If you fail to make a single payment on a referral deal you’ll destroy a valuable relationship.

Also, for the referring partner a small payment NOW is more appealing than a slightly larger payment months from now.

The other problem with pay per sale is the referring company has to adopt your sales risk. This happens when the sales lead is good, but your sales team doesn’t work hard to close the deal. If you aren’t closing deals then they’ll start sending their sales leads to one of your competitors.

For these reasons, B2B companies are usually better off paying referring partners on a Pay Per Lead basis.

Share A Resource

Resource Sharing Partner Marketing
Sometimes the value we can offer another firm isn’t financial. It’s very possible to help their business succeed in other ways. Sometimes at little or no cost to yourself! For example, you might already produce or pay for a tool, or specialized research. If it’s useful to partners to your partners, why not share it? The more value they see in a partnership with you, the more likely they are to help you generate sales leads. For example, sites that compile statistics information cost a LOT. Smaller firms see the value in having access to such information. But they can’t justify the cost of an ongoing subscription when they’ll only use it from time to time. You can offer to check data on their behalf in exchange for help with appointment setting. This approach is even easier if you offer a service that other companies are using. They get your solution for free, and agree to help you in other ways. The point is, strategic partner marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. You can leverage areas where you are already heavily invested to find great partners.

Bundled Solutions

When you purchase a new PC or phone your purchase includes programs from 3rd party providers. For example, most Android phones are sold with pre-installed apps installed by your mobile carrier.

Your carrier doesn’t ask if you want them to include these apps. Given a choice they know most people will refuse them. Instead, they just give them to you with the phone. A telecom has to make money somehow, right!

The bundled model can be an excellent way to get B2B sales leads. Can your solution can be added on to existing buyer needs? Maybe your partners can bundle your solutions with their own.

Website developers meet people who want to build a new website. But first time buyers don’t know what happens after the website goes live. They don’t give a lot of thought to their web hosting. Nor do they consider what email options are best. Incremental site improvements usually don’t cross their minds. And they don’t consider how to do website promotion.

Someone providing solutions such as the above can partner with website developers. They get qualified B2B sales leads. And the designers get extra sources of revenue. It’s a win-win-win for all the parties involved.

Look for ways to attach your solution to deals that are already going through. Your sales lead conversion rate will be 100% and you’ll only need to pay for sales that are successful.

Implementation Marketing

Some solutions are incredibly powerful and flexible.

Which sounds great, except for some end users it’s not. There is too much expertise required to use the solution effectively.

In this situation, an implementation partnership works well for clients and partners alike.

Consider how complicated an ERP solution is. The software helps manage all the major functions of a business. This includes accounting, shipping, production, payroll, and so on.

But connecting these modules into a time-saving tool takes expertise. Which most businesses don’t have.

In this example, you can offer your support services as an optional add-on.

The software provider reduces their support costs. And you get new clients.

So look for companies that need local expertise that you can provide.

Providers need local experts helping out in areas where they don’t have compliance expertise (ie accounting modules).

Or don’t have linguistic capabilities to cover certain markets.

Partnered Email Marketing

The majority of B2B website owners don’t have a meaningful opt-in email marketing list.

Fortunately, you aren’t limited to your own list!

One effective way to build a contact list instantly is to find partners who have a large email list.

For privacy reasons they won’t be able share their list with you. But they can share your solutions with their email subscribers.

This works especially well when your partner has a personal connection to your solution. If they trust your work then it makes sense for them to share their experiences with their audience.

An effective tactic is to give your partner’s audience something of high value. This elevates your partner in the eyes of their audience. And they feel great because they can offer something of high value at no cost to themselves.

The valuable resource might be an online tool. Or it could be an information resource like a video, ebook, or webinar.

Your email partners may expect some payment for helping you generate B2B sales leads.

This sort of partner marketing is great for all parties. Your partner wins by monetizing their list. And they can bolster their reputation by providing their audience with something valuable.

You win by getting exposure to a niche audience that’s hard to access organically.

And of course the email recipients win by getting access to your valuable tool or information resource.

Collaborate With The Competition

It’s natural to think of your competitors as, well, competitors.

But there are lots of ways to collaborate with just about anyone. And working with your competitors is a great example of how to approach partner marketing.

Google and Microsoft both offer a suite of cloud utilities that directly compete against one another. But Microsoft makes those same utilities available on the Android, which is owned by Google.

If they can find ways to work together, then you can do the same.

The more you have in common with another firm, the more opportunities there are to work together.

This can be especially beneficial if your partner firm is a large, established brand. You get a ‘halo’ effect by partnering with them.

Be Open To Overflow

One way you can work with a competitor is to give them projects that are too big or complex for your own firm.

And they can send you clients that are too small to qualify for their solutions.

Another way to partner is to take their overflow work. If the larger company has a short term surplus of work they won’t want to turn away the extra business. But they also don’t want to add to head count.

You can take the ‘overflow’ work off their hands, to both your benefit.

Provide White Label Solutions

Your offering adds a lot of value to your clients. So it’s understandable that other companies would like to offer the same service to their clients.

But it’s not that easy, is it?

Your solution requires investment in systems, infrastructure, and trained man-power.

Other companies can replicate your solution. But do they really want to? If it’s not a core offering then the answer is probably no.

The barriers to entry are just too high to invest in a non-core competency. This is why white-label solutions are the perfect win-win. Other companies can add your solution to their list of services, at no cost.

They manage the client relationship. In return, you get all the work they can send your way!

Social Collaboration

Marketing partnerships don’t need to be big, complicated agreements.

In fact, something as simple as social collaboration can have a big impact on your business, at zero cost.

Find people and companies with similar audiences and social profiles as your own.

If you like their content then offer to share it on your social channels.

Of course the expectation is that they’ll do the same.

At most it’ll take a few minutes a day. And you’ll get introduced to audiences who otherwise wouldn’t know about your work. Win-win!

Explore Trade In-Kind

Your services have value. You know this to be true, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to earn money for your business.

If there’s something you need to market your business, explore the possibility of a trade in-kind for payment.

It’s not always possible. But if you can barter your expertise for marketing you’ll get a very high ROI.

Content Collaboration

Creating truly great content is hard.

Sometimes it requires the combined expertise of two or more firms to make it happen.

Consider partnering with other firms on your content marketing.

You’ll get double the promotion. And the content may be much better than what you could produce on your own.

There are many types of content that lend themselves to partner marketing. For example, you can co-author an article or co-host webinar.

In 2019 Backlinko did a study on content marketing. At the time they didn’t have access to the data they needed so they partnered with BuzzSumo. Backlinko did all the writing, and BuzzSumo got to leverage their unique data set in way that enhanced their brand.

Partner Marketing Rocks!

So there you have it – a huge list of B2B partner marketing strategies.

Which ones are most applicable to your business? Do you think you can make it happen?

If you found this helpful why not share it using the social buttons? Others might find it useful, too.

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray is the Managing Director of Sales Higher. He knows any company can THRIVE with enough qualified sales leads. So he’s spent the last decade helping companies meet engaged prospects and win new deals.

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