No matter what they tell you, Salesforce, Hubspot, AWS, Google, and SAP all have favorites.
Yes, they value all their partners and know how to get the most out of them. Yet, they do have partners that they love just a little more and they get preferential treatment.
At my previous company, we reached that status. Almost all major platforms in our space made us a, “Focus ISV”, a, “Hero Integration”, or even, “Tech Partner of the Year”. This was despite the fact that we were smaller than most of our competitors and, from a technical point of view, far less sophisticated than most other ISVs that had built integrations.
What we had done was figure out how to add value to their business. Then we worked our butts off to get that point across and prove our value. Being more systematic helped us succeed.
So, how can you make sure you are amongst your partner’s favorites? It begins with carefully assessing what makes a company such a prized asset. Then you can systematically work to become that kind of partner.
If you can’t become one of the following types of partners it will be incredibly difficult to be loved and you may have to rethink your strategy. While there are some ISVs that are amazing at one of the following, you may also be good at just two or three.
Let’s break it down.
Partner type 1: The rainmaker
At a technology platform, no one really expects you to bring a major deal. But some vendors are well placed to do just that every now and then. Deliver a series of major deals for a large tech platform (and make sure people know what you did) and you’re guaranteed to be considered special.
They’ll see you as an indispensable dealmaker and want to ensure you have all the support you need to keep thriving.
Partner type 2: The closer
You may be the junior partner, but there might be some huge platforms that can’t do it without you. Your services and expertise add that critical extra bit of value that helps win a deal.
If you can help your partner close, they’ll work proactively to bring you into deals with them. And that’s a great position to be in.
Partner type 3: The innovator
Even the best, most advanced, most comprehensive platforms can’t do everything on their own. There are a number of reasons for this. For one, they can’t anticipate their users’ every need. Even if they could, user requirements change over time. Big platforms often need nimble, imaginative partners to fill essential feature gaps and very specific needs.
If you can fill critical gaps, you are on track to becoming central to the platform’s power to satisfy its clients.
Partner type 4: The delighter
Big tech platforms are indispensable to many people’s daily lives. But on even the most powerful platforms, just a few integrations can actually make customers happier. They might improve a workflow or work seamlessly in the background to help customers achieve complex tasks more simply and effectively. They’re the magic that drives customer satisfaction.
If you’re significantly enhancing the platform’s users’ happiness, you are on track to becoming indispensable.
Partner type 5: The influencer
Some companies are just so hot and influential that even the big tech platforms want to be associated with them and benefit from their reach. While this often isn't a very sustainable strategy I've seen it work very well in the shorter term.
If you manage to truly stand out from the crowd and get their target audience excited, tech platforms might just go out of their way to be associated with you.
Who knows your worth?
We’ve identified some of the key types of partner roles that really help you stand out. The rest will take care of itself, right? If you’re an authentically valuable partner, surely everyone will take notice and invite you to the table. If only it were so simple.
All that hard work and ingenuity is only part of the equation. You also need to be noticed, and that requires a plan of action. Like actively keeping your partners informed of the incredible value you provide. And cultivating partnerships with key decision makers, who will push to keep your business front and center.
What we learned was that every type of value creation requires a unique approach and audience within a tech partner’s organization. If you’re a rainmaker, sales will love you, if you’re a delighter, you should get very close to their CS team. Spreading the word and educating your partners’ employees on the value you add is just as important.
Lastly, some things we didn’t do. We never sent out newsletters or one-size-fits-all updates. We mapped the different audiences and worked on very targeted messaging that would get them to realize that we could take their business to the next level.