28 Jun Improving partner relationships is key to manufacturing sales
by Alicia Gunderson and David Rivas
Among the top five trends for manufacturers identified by Gartner one year ago was ecosystem partnerships. Partnerships in the industry have long been a staple, but what’s new is how increasingly crucial these relationships have become to driving sales at both of the involved organizations. By 2024, 75 percent of the top consumer goods brands will be in a growth or sustainability-focused partnership.
No longer are partnerships just a logistical necessity or lip service for the brand. Manufacturers must engage far and wide in their ecosystem to make strategic alliances that keep them relevant in the new buyer landscape. Manufacturers fall behind the competition if they’re not taking full advantage of channel partner sales, which is why it’s critical that decision-makers do everything they can to elevate partner relationships. In this article we’ll dive into three expectations for manufacturing organizations looking to improve their partner strategy:
Your organization should plainly answer a partner’s WIIFM
First and foremost, your organization’s partner program must have clear messaging surrounding incentives and rewards. Retaining partners and attracting new ones simply can’t be done without answering the age-old “what’s in it for me” from the very start. Explaining how a partnership with your organization will be mutually beneficial sets up both your organization and the partner for success in driving market share.
Strong incentive and loyalty programs encourage adoption of the partner portal and ongoing engagement in both thought leadership and market grab initiatives. Connecting these programs to a CRM platform gives you even greater visibility into the partner data so you can collaborate on buyer behaviors and preferences. Additionally, you can use CRM to more effectively manage shared co-marketing funds, training, rebate thresholds, etc.
Your organization should be easy to work with
After you’ve made it clear why your partners should want to ally with you, it’s important that you keep them with you by providing an easy way of doing business. A single source of truth for all customer lifecycle data points is a crucial priority in making partner business seamless. This provides greater visibility to you and your partners by extending your respective CRMs with enhanced data that you can analyze and collaborate on in real-time. Leads, order status, pricing, quoting, marketing touch points—these are all examples of potential data share fields your partners want and need access to in order to be the most beneficial partner to you.
Co-selling and co-marketing are critical functions for your partnership, and while they’re not new ideas for manufacturing partnerships (just take a look at how the strategic relationship between Philips and Du Pont was heralded in the 80s), they remain critical to pushing innovation forward. The only thing that’s changed is the way you connect with partners over dynamic data in a central cloud repository. Salesforce has excellent community portal functionality designed just for this purpose.
Your organization should have avenues to explore new revenue streams
A final expectation for organizations looking to improve partner relations for increased sales is that you must have a culture and a process in place for adding new revenue streams. In manufacturing, in particular, many industry leaders are exploring options in as-a-service business models or data monetization to adapt to a more subscription-based economy.
Partners play a key role in launching these new streams successfully. Services and data monetization will both generate more customer insights that follow products more closely throughout their lifecycle, and partners can benefit from these insights just as much as your organization to provide better complimentary services that keep your customers loyal to the entire shared experience across brands.
Simplus is prepared with years of industry-specific experience to implement and enhance the ideal tech stack for promoting better partner relationships and overall performance as a modern manufacturer. To learn more about our offerings and receive custom guidance, reach out to our team.
Alicia is Simplus’ Director of Salesforce GTM Strategy.
David is VP and GTM Lead for manufacturing sales at Simplus.