The advantages ecosystem partners gain through collaborative B2B solution selling--innovation, integration, expertise, and reliability--only accrue if you get a few of the softer things right before you engage. Align your company strategies Unless the strategies of the partner companies align there's really not much use developing an ecosystem partner for B2B solution selling. You need to have the same goals in mind and take similar approaches to attaining them. Before you approach another company get a sense of where they're going and how they intend to get there. For companies close on strategy, who agree to join your partnership, make priority lists of what aspects of the company strategies really drive your operation. Then determine shared objectives, setting down your exact sales and marketing objectives. Actual B2B solution selling tactics that support your shared goals should be left to individual functional directors. Establish needs and value The true value of third-party ecosystem partners to B2B solution selling requires careful coordination of needs and values. Partnerships that develop out of good intent may already have clear and established value, but leave nothing to chance on this. Everyone can benefit from a clear definition of customer needs and how best to meet them. For your ecosystem partnership to be innovative, integrated, and invaluable to clients you need to get some of these softer things worked out before you start. Only then can your ecosystem partnership optimize collaboration, expertise, and reliability to bring maximum value to bear on your B2B solution selling efforts. Establish trust between your companies You need to trust each other fully to make an ecosystem partnership work in B2B solution selling. Trust starts at the personal level not at company level. A few things to remember in building a partner relationship:
- Be honest, if things go wrong, or drift, inform your partner immediately. They will respect this behavior: the grass at the other side in not greener.
- Give insides about your company to whom others have no access.
- Get to learn the people you are dealing with. Engage them in activities that have nothing to do with business.