StartUp Founders: What Might A Partner Program Look Like?

Contrary to popular belief, a partner strategy isn't just for mature companies with deep pockets and large teams. Don't overlook it.

Many startup founders often have reservations about executing a partner strategy. There’s a common misconception that a partner strategy is only something that can be done by mature companies with VP-level partnerships, perfect onboarding processes, and a fully-fleshed-out API stack. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Partnerships, whether they are sell-with partnerships, better-together partnerships, implementation partnerships, geographic partnerships, or platform partnerships, can really expand your service addressable market and give you access to customers that you might not have been able to reach on your own. They’re already selling to those customers, have a solid relationship in place, understand their needs, and know how to sell to them.

While I’m not suggesting that startups should immediately pivot to a partner-led strategy, I am recommending that they start thinking about the foundational requirements of their firm if they ever wanted to execute one. This might include having a solid understanding of their target audience, having a clear value proposition, and creating a culture of collaboration and partnership.

One notable example of a company that has executed a successful partner strategy is Salesforce. Their AppExchange program, which allows third-party developers to build apps that integrate with Salesforce, has been a huge driver of growth for the company. As Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff once said, “We really do believe that we are better together with our partners. When our partners succeed, we succeed.”

By adopting a partner strategy early on, startups can position themselves for success in the long term. Good luck to all the founders out there!

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