Your Partner is Not Your Customer
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!