Your Partner is Not Your Customer

by | Jan 26, 2023

Partner ≠ Customer

Treat­ing part­ners like cus­tomers is a com­mon mis­take that can neg­a­tive­ly impact your part­ner­ship. There are good rea­sons to ensure your orga­ni­za­tion does not treat part­ners like customers.

1. While the expres­sion “treat your part­ners like cus­tomers” may seem like good advice, it can lead to using the wrong tools, KPIs, strate­gies, and methods.

  • Sales tech­niques ≠ Part­ner recruit­ing methods
  • Sales KPIs ≠ Part­ner­ship KPIs
  • Sales mar­ket­ing ≠ Part­ner marketing
  • Cus­tomer onboard­ing ≠ Part­ner onboarding

2. Cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty is impor­tant; reserve it for your cus­tomers! Instead, your part­ners should bring that same cus­tomer focus, but their role in your busi­ness mod­el is dif­fer­ent. Your part­ners col­lab­o­rate with you to serve your com­mon customers.

3. Your part­ners are not your cus­tomers because you do not sell to part­ners; you recruit your part­ners. Part­ner onboard­ing is more com­pa­ra­ble to employ­ee onboard­ing than cus­tomer onboard­ing. Nur­tur­ing ongo­ing com­mit­ment and col­lab­o­ra­tion is the key to suc­cess­ful partnerships.

4. Cus­tomer rela­tion­ships are trans­ac­tion­al, while part­ner rela­tion­ships are col­lab­o­ra­tive. When a rela­tion­ship shifts from trans­ac­tion­al to col­lab­o­ra­tive, it’s impor­tant to rec­og­nize that a cus­tomer has become a part­ner or vice versa.

5. Unlike the beliefs that “the cus­tomer is king” and “the buy­er is always right”, suc­cess­ful part­ner­ships involve mutu­al rights and respon­si­bil­i­ties that are to be respect­ed and upheld. Trust, trans­paren­cy, and com­mit­ment to build­ing joint cus­tomer val­ue should be pri­or­i­tized to ensure mutu­al suc­cess.


Your partners are your partners!

You also want your part­ners to view you as a part­ner, not a sup­pli­er. It’s impor­tant to approach part­ner­ships with that under­stand­ing. Part­ner­ships must be treat­ed dif­fer­ent­ly and with the same lev­el of com­mit­ment and col­lab­o­ra­tion that you would expect from any oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tor.

You can still build a part­ner-cen­tric go-to-mar­ket strat­e­gy that does not com­pete with your cus­tomer-cen­tric busi­ness model!