Ecosystems

The Art of Building Trust With Your Channel Partners

B2B companies are finding that trust is the most important success factor for ecosystems. Yet, it is the least appreciated or valued aspect of success.


In a recent Accenture report, B2B companies are finding that trust is the most important success factor for ecosystems. Yet, it is the least appreciated or valued aspect of success. 

The experts at Accenture are clear in stating the problem and the potential solution. 

The problem: “When Trust is Gone, Everything is Gone.”

This is true of all human relationships. It is equally true amongst companies, which of course, are made up of human beings. More on that in a moment.

The solution: Trust runs both ways. It’s all about giving, sharing, and listening. We’ll get into that shortly.

Let’s look at how building trust between brands, B2B companies, and channel partners can improve. It’s a fine art and science. 

Often, you need to dive deep into the data, and at the same time, communicate with your heart. This is not the easiest thing, is it? That’s why it helps to start with an overview, and then think about specific steps you can take. 

Let’s see what this might mean in your sales organization. 

 

Trust Is A Two-Way Street

The experts at Accenture offer a model for how trust is built.

Simply, it is a two-way street with trust flowing in both directions.

Company to Channel

Companies can build trust by sharing insights. They can offer something that the channel partner does not have such as qualified sets of leads, or specifically focused sales coaching. They can provide resources to identify issues and align outcomes. 

B2B companies build trust when they provide resources, educational materials, personalized coaching. They build trust when they offer support and incentives for working closely together. 

Channel to Company

The channel partner is the eyes and ears for understanding the customer. They can offer the company value and build trust by sharing customer information. They are the front line who can share valuable information about risks, forecasts, and what the end-consumer wants.

 

There’s Room To Improve

As in most human relationships, it helps to know where you are. With that knowledge, you can assess what is working, what is not working, and what can improve.

The state of partnerships has plenty of room for improvement. According to the Accenture report, only one in five partners on average has the status of ‘trusted partner.’ That’s only 20%. To say that partnership relationships are not so strong would seem to be an understatement, don’t you think?

Also, many B2B companies seem to be more actively using customer relationship tools than partner relationship tools. The numbers show that 56% of B2B companies achieve a 75% adoption rate of CRM tools. However, only 38% actively use PRM solutions.

With this wide gap, it appears that there is room to improve. 

 

Trust Can Be Strengthened

In many ways, this reminds me of a sibling relationship. Let’s say, a big sister and a little brother. The big sister has great wealth, 3 houses, and loads of status. The little brother has great ideas, great creativity, and a huge community of supporters. 

It’s not bushels of apples and apples. It’s not even apples and oranges. It’s more like apples and mangoes. Each collection of fruit is delicious, yet with very different qualities.

So, what can the big one offer to the little one? And what can the little one offer to the big one? This is the dynamic we’re examining.

 

Connected Growth

In the B2B world, companies can support, strengthen, and enable their channel partners. The Accenture experts advise that they can do this by embracing a mindset of connected growth.

That’s a beautiful idea. Connected growth means that they are thinking as a whole. They are assessing what they have—and what they don’t have. They are evaluating their core strengths, strengthening those, and giving channel partners room to manage and maneuver. This is very different from old models of command-and-control. 

With connected growth, it makes logical sense that B2B companies offer larger picture services and solutions. They have the resources to provide ecosystem-level solutions that their channel partners could not access, design, or develop on their own. 

To achieve connected growth, the experts recommend following new rules that truly support ecosystem thinking and functioning. 

 

Ecosystem Rules Are Different

When you’re working with an ecosystem mindset, different rules apply. Gone are the days of command-and-control. The methods of competing also shift. The old rules fade and new ones emerge that take you where you want to go.

Just to give you an idea of the Accenture perspective, here is a synopsis of the five areas:

Leverage: Connections and data flows are key to understanding what customers truly want. When data is flowing, it’s easier to evaluate which services add value.

Rethink: The mindset is one of everyone is doing what they are best at doing. For B2B companies, this means, rethinking core competencies. The old days of doing everything from corporate headquarters are history. The new way is a clearer take on core strengths, and partnering within the ecosystem.

Plan: With the ecosystem, scaling can move at warp speed.

Move: Migrate from physical products to an as-a-service model. 

Create: Customer experience and customer value is always the outcome. As creating excellence is ongoing, new opportunities emerge for independence.

 

What Does This Mean For You?

As you look to grow and build trusted partnerships, a few concepts may be useful to keep in mind.

    • Partners are not vendors. Partners are collaborators. By recognizing the person beyond the label, you can support true co-creation. 
    • Listen to your partners. Take time to understand their business, brand, and values.
    • Explore what partners need to succeed. They may need sales coaching, product training, or technology support. By understanding their specific needs, you can support them in being successful. 
    • Process is not perfection. You may not hit it exactly every time. However, with attention to the process and the people, you can build trust as you align your efforts.
    • Customer value is the top priority. As you work with your partners, keep exploring how to increase the value for the customer. 

 

Sum Up

Building trust with your collaborative partners is essential to achieve success, as you move forward. 

By starting with the right mindset, you can join successful businesses that are shaping the market and realizing significant revenue potential. Partnership Co-Selling is how you can virtually qualify B2B sales opportunity. You can use this to boost sales, expand your network, and grow profitability.

Using a platform like CoSell is the simplest way to get your sales team on board. CoSell is a robust platform that makes it easy and fast to automate and scale collaborative co-selling across sales teams. 

If you’d like to explore how partnership co-selling can help you and your team boost sales and win major clients fast - check out our selection of free eBooks.

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