One of the easiest ways to grow your business exponentially is through business partnerships. In this article, we’re going to dig into how you can quickly find new partners to help you promote your referral or affiliate program. I took these exact steps to add 20 new business partners to our existing program in the last quarter alone.
Step 1: Understand your market of sellers
First step to take when it comes to scaling your partners program is to understand your market of sellers. You need to first understand the landscape of what your space looks like so that you know who to actually reach out to to potentially propose a partnership.
For example, I found that in our industry, we had a collection of educators teaching other professionals how to do better in the particular challenge that they were solving as well as that there were consultants that were being hired by organizations to solve the problem that our product helps facilitate as well. You’ll see this in all sorts of industries.
For example, if you were selling Salesforce, you might find that there are a ton of consultants that also help with the salesman administration side of things when an organization is moving to digitize their customer relationship management system. The easiest way to understand your market of sellers is to think about what other products or services they often purchase in order to solve the problem they’re facing.
For example, if you’re selling meal prep plans for long distance runners, you might want to find out what other things long distance runners are spending money on. From this exercise, you should be able to start to isolate where you should be dedicating your time to start building up partnerships.
In my situation, I found that a lot of our prospects and customers were attending these annual trainings where they would learn how to do their jobs better. And so these professional associations that hosted these conferences were great perspective partners. What was also great about these associations is that they had their own certification programs for trainers. And so the trainers opened up a pool of potential partners as well.
Step 2: Map out what would excite these potential partners
The second step to scaling big when it comes to your partnerships is mapping out what would actually excite your potential partners. You need to think about things from the lens of their side, as opposed to your side. If you’re thinking about how to make their business more successful, they will make yours more successful as well in a successful partnership.
Like I mentioned before, they might be selling consulting services related to the problem that you solve. So if we take that example of selling Salesforce, for example, we might realize that these consultants have a lot to gain from partnering with Salesforce, because we can offer them some sort of partner discount for their clients.
So in other words, by bringing Salesforce into a new organization, as opposed to another CRM solution, they can position themselves as doing their clients a favor because they’ve negotiated some sort of discounted rate to Salesforce as a solution. Aside from discounting your product, you might also offer some sort of promotional discount from the front end of the funnel.
For example, if a prospect is still in the exploration phase of their decision-making, then you might want to offer you partners a three week or four week trial instead of your standard two week trial. By offering these sorts of smaller incentives, you can position your partners for success when it comes to talking about your product or service.
Always think about how to make things a win-win for your partners. Your partners should feel like it’s not really so much a sale, but an opportunity for their clients to truly take advantage of.
Step 3: Scrape contacts and personalize your outreach
The third step to take is you’re going to scrape some contacts and personalize your outreach. This is where you can apply some of the skills that I’ve taught you around cold emails as well as setting up RFPs and hiring VAs to help you do some work.
For your list, you’re going to want to collect things like the potential partner’s name, email, position, and organization, as well as maybe their social profile in case you want to connect with them later on to catch their attention if they opened your email, but didn’t respond to you.
And then when it comes to the cold email you send out to them, you want to make it really clear why you are reaching out to them and make it abundantly clear that they are the only person that’s going to receive that particular message. This is done through a personalized first line. So, if you’ve never written those or you don’t know how to do that, be sure to check out my prior articles where I share the exact cold email template that I consistently use.
And then the last thing you want to make sure you include in your email is the upside for them. So book some sort of meeting with them and give them a reason that they would want to attend this meeting. Maybe it’s because they can earn some big affiliate commissions in partnering with you, or have some sort of stage for a partner webinar with you if they were to join you as a partner.
When it comes to your campaign, you want to be optimizing for at least a 10% reply rate. It is not uncommon though, that you can get up to 20% or even more than that if you personalize your campaign in a really effective way. And then the other tip I’d share with you is make sure your outreach campaign is at least two or three stages. A lot of your conversion is actually going to happen on your follow-up message, as opposed to your first message to the potential partner.
Step 4: Set up your partner pipeline
The fourth step you’re going to want to take is you’re going to want to set up a partner pipeline. This is the way that you are going to track where these prospective partners are in your overall partner process.
I recommend doing this in some sort of CRM such as a Pipedrive or Close. However, if you want to do this in a Google sheet, you can probably do it there too. For example, you might have something in your Kanban pipeline that looks like prospective, call scheduled, call complete, onboarded and activated.
These represent all the key stages that it might take in order to bring somebody from not being a partner with you, to becoming a true partner. By having this command center of where every single potential partner is, you can better assist them in getting them to be activated as a partner for your business.
So how did this look in my case? Well, I knew that if I reached out to a hundred potential partners, that 20 of them would be potentially interested. So I would move those 20 into the prospective stage. Then once I actually completed calls with these people, I would move them to the call complete stage and leave notes for myself as to what they were doing in their business and how we might add value to their business as well.
I was always thinking about how I could naturally integrate our brand into their existing work that way it would feel like a win-win that they would be dumb to not be a part of our partner program. From here, ’cause I set things up in a pipeline view, I would be able to give my team an update as to how many prospective partners I was adding to the pipeline every single week. And then get an anticipated timeline for when they would be activated to refer their first potential customer to us. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my last article to learn about the tips and tricks that I used to create a jumpstart kit that helped activate these partners.
Step 5: Incentivize new introductions
The last step that I’d share with you when it comes to scaling your partner program is to incentivize new introductions. Something that I have learned as I onboard a new partners into our program is that they all kind of know each other. They’re all part of the same professional associations. They all go to the same trainings every single year. And so it’s a very closely knit group.
And so something that I’m still working on is incentivizing our current partners to introduce us to a potential new partners as well. You’ll notice that big startups like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb all do this in their marketplace economies, in which what they’re doing is they’re asking their drivers or hosts to introduce them to other people that they know that are also like them.
So, this is something that I’m just trying to think about, and maybe I’ll make a future article as I dig more into this side of things, but I’m thinking about how to create this growth loop for myself, in which as I onboard one new partner, I’m actually onboarding two or three, because that partner is going to introduce me to one or two other partners as well.
There are two things that I want you to remember when it comes to scaling your partners program.
- The first one is to use your transferable skills when it comes to scaling your partners program. If you’ve been a viewer of my channel for some time, I’ve already taught you some basics to sales, as well as effective cold email outreach, as well as how to hire virtual assistants. So by merging all those skills together, you can actually scale a partners program today.
- The second thing I want you to remember is a famous saying by Peter Drucker, which is what gets measured, gets managed. By setting up a tracker for yourself, you can identify whether or not you are reaching out to enough potential partners to truly scale your program, to where you want it to be.
If you liked this article, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week. I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Also, feel free to share this with anybody that you think might benefit from learning how to scale their partners program.