Just like sales, Partnership Trust is COIN operated; but the COIN operation in Partnership Trust is not your typical currency.
The COIN I’m talking about is Co-INnovation.
In the land of B2B Partnering, this kind of COIN is associated with two partners (e.g., two SaaS Companies) aligning their products to create an integrated solution and then leveraging a GoToEcosystem plan in pursuit of joint customers.
COIN & The Partner Maturation Journey
What is the connection between Trust and COIN? When and how is the COIN inserted into the Partnership machine to make the gears turn? And how does this relate to building a compelling GoToEcosystem strategy?
Looking through the lens of a single tech partnership, here is the partner maturation journey from COIN to Trust to GoToEcosystem:
- Identify prospective COIN partners & build MVP integrations (COINs)
- Build early relationships to validate that the COIN benefits joint customers (Trust Level 1)
- Engage in limited Joint Market Activities (JMAs) that brings joint value - what coin delivers - to joint customers (Trust Level 2)
- Prove that both partners generate an ROI on the JMAs and delight the customer (Trust Level 3)
- Continue to leverage the virtuous cycle of relationships, strengthening and expanded JMAs, making more and more happy customers (Trust Level 4)
Building Trust - One Level at a Time
Each of the 5 maturation steps is associated with a different level of trust building. Let’s talk about each of these elements as the ‘mechanics of trust building in B2B SaaS Partnerships.’ Trust in a partnership is built sequentially, progressing from one level of trust to the next, so let’s dig in.
Trust Level 1: With the Partner Account Managers
In the beginning, the first level of trust is always built between individuals - typically Partner Account Managers - on each side of the partnerships. Trust always starts and ends with people. In this first stage, it's between the business development folks who make contact, discuss a prospective value prop to a set of joint customers and resolve that there is opportunity for both partners to profit from baby steps in building a relationship.
Trust is achieved through business alignment, agreed upon steps, and follow through. In the case of the partner maturation journey, early trust is solidified when the partners secure one or more customer references speaking to the benefits of the integrated solution.
Trust Level 2: Within the Internal Functional Orgs
Once the partners engage in Joint Market Activities that engage the internal functional orgs on one or more side of the partnership - i.e., marketing, sales, and customer success - the next level of trust emerges as these departments start to see how the partner engagement helps achieve the internal functional org’s objectives.
Tech partnerships help marketing lower cost and increase the quality of landed MQLs, help sales increase deal size and shorten sales cycles, help customer success increase customer satisfaction which leads to lower churn, etc. As these functional orgs start to see how the GoToEcosystem motion supports them, they become fans of the partner ecosystem and ask for more engagement.
Trust Level 3: With the Joint Customer
The third and most important trust level is between the partners and their joint prospects and customers. Because customers are influenced by and want to buy from people and companies they trust, one side of the partnership (that has a customer) can influence the other side to buy their partner’s product and the joint, integrated solution.
As the partnership goes after pure net new, the partnership earns the trust of the customer by solving for a larger and more impactful problem. All of this leads to more customer engagement, references and more in-market influence that builds and solidifies joint customer trust.
Trust Level 4: Between the Two Partners
The fourth and final trust level is the business-level trust that goes beyond the PAM trust built in Level 1 to include dashboards that show the results of the partnership for each company and the partnership as a whole.
Level 4 is critical because it is the basis for providing the Hard ROI that both partners need to gain additional resources to grow the partnership, the tech programs and the Ecosystem strategy as a whole.
Put the coin in the trust machine
Trust is the new data, and to operationalize it we need COIN (co-innovation) and an understanding as to how that COIN creates trust. Let’s build trust one level at a time and go out there and crush it with your GoToEcosystem strategies.