I do get new customers through my partners

It sounds so simple. “I make sure my products can be promoted by companies already with the customer anyway. I give away a little margin, and automatically I will get new customers.” How many times have you had conversations like this? New collaborations, wherein the first conversations the opportunities seem unlimited, and there are already manypossibilities. The sky is the limit, at least so it seems. But after the first meeting, many of the options discussed did not seem to get off the ground.

How do you create successful partnerships?

What can you do to ensure that partnership cooperation does reach full maturity? That has everything to do with the intention and intensity of partnering. We see three possibilities:

  • Passing the ball

You cooperate because you have complementary services, and you’re willing to pass the ball to each other. We call this the complementary partner model.

  • Semi-finished product

A collaboration in which you take on more of a supplier role. The products or services are embedded in the portfolio of the partner, who acts as a reseller. We call this the supplier model.

  • Jointly to the market

A cooperation in which both the commercial side, the portfolios and the joint added value are worked out. We call this the collaboration model.

For these different forms of collaboration, the (partner models,) there are good reasons to choose one or the other. You choose a form of cooperation that suits you as an organisation. I will summarise the advantages and disadvantages of each partner model below.

The added value of collaboration

The essence of a collaboration (partnering) is that it provides value for both parties. This is usually in the form of additional revenue and margin but can also be invisibility, brand enhancement, portfolio enrichment, customer satisfaction, etc. But as we described earlier in our articles on partnering, there are pitfalls alongside the many benefits.

Partnering models

So, although partnering can deliver a lot, it has to suit you. It costs time, money and attention, which you cannot spend on direct customers. The business case, so to speak, must be proper.That is also where the choice of the model you want to enter in terms of partnering lies.

The complementary model

This is a collaboration in which you act separately, but you use each other for specific customer demands. Here you can think of a Cloud provider with customers who need network services. With a partner, they can then also provide these.

The success of this model is often very personal. In addition to additional services, you also need an individual click or favour factor. That is the risk behind this model.

  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • Increases the scoring of offers and tenders
  • The match in services must deliver real value to customers
  • Access to warm new relationships
  • Collaboration often starts very opportunistically
  • Requires little investment
  • Without reciprocal attention, the collaboration bleeds to death
  • Increase brand awareness in your market
  • One-sided ‘love’ in this relationship is lurking

Conclusion: A successful model if the sum of your services delivers real value for customers, and you as organisations want to work together.

The supplier models

Here the question is whether this is a partner or supplier relationship. Once services or products are purchased for resale, or if you deploy them towards customers, it’s partnering.This is the most traditional collaboration model in IT, with examples being legion, especially from big brands like HP, Microsoft, Citrix, IBM, Dell and many others.

The success of this collaboration lies in the relevance of your services and products to your buying partners. Do they already have it in their portfolio, can they realise enough margin,and does it fit the needs of their customers?

  • Benefits
  • Disadvantages
  • Increases your offer in the market
  • Can create a one-sided relationship
  • Strengthens your branding
  • Your success depends on the commerce of the partners
  • Creates a virtually larger commercial team
  • Requires a lot of time and investment

Conclusion: This model is proven successful, using a clear partner proposition, support and partner strategy.

The collaboration models

This is a collaboration in which you work together very intensively. You develop a joint proposition that you also market together. You can think of a software platform that adds value to an infrastructure Cloud proposition, with which you can offer more added value than just computing power. Both parties then benefit from the extra value and cooperate towards the market.

The success of this model lies primarily at the beginning of the collaboration. Are you taking the time and investment to set up a joint proposition and cooperation?

  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • Adds a lot of value for customers and the partners
  • Proposition and alignment of collaboration requires attention, time and investment
  • Access to warm new relationships
  • Access to relationships is not a given.
  • You use each other’s strengths and organisations optimally
  • One-sided ‘love’ is also lurking here, especially with disproportionate ratios in size
  • Increase brand awareness in your market
  • Your own identity can fade into the background
  • Can be the impetus for a merger or acquisition
  • Risk of partner lock-in

Conclusion: A successful model if you have the same goal, create value for your customers and your portfolio, and appeal to a new customer group.

The Holy Grail

To start with, everyone is looking for the holy grail. I’d like to help you out of that dream right away: it doesn’t exist! Well, I have also seen companies use several forms simultaneously. One model does not exclude the other. And please note: With partnering, customers do not automatically come to you via your partner. That may occasionally be, but certainly not structurally.

  • Our maxims for successful partnering are, therefore:
  • The collaboration must generate value for both parties, but especially for customers
  • Partnering is not a good intention
  • You must systematically remain in contact with each other


Partnering is a conscious choice. It requires a strategic approach. As a commercial consultancy firm for IT companies, we are happy to share our vision and experience in this area, for example, through our white paper on how to implement partnering successfully. We can also do this specifically for your organisation via a 1st new business scan.

Would you like to know more about the latest developments in portfolio innovation, marketing and sales in general? Read our other blogs or have a chat with one of us at Force21.