Leverage Partnerships to Find New B2B Sales Leads

Partner marketing programs can be one of your best sources for new sales leads, for the following reasons:

  1. Partners open up access to totally new markets.
  2. Partner recommendations can give you a leg-up in credibility, especially if you are dealing with their existing customers (quality of exposure)
  3. Depending on how well known the partner is, such programs can give you much broader outreach to the marketplace (quantity of exposure).
  4. Partner marketing programs can lead to an acquisition cost of ½ or less of do-it-yourself marketing campaigns.

To be successful at leveraging partners you need to play the game right.  Remember that partners will want to cooperate with you (and supply you with fresh leads) only to the degree that they perceive it to be in their best interest. Ensure that you have an understanding of what the partner wants from the relationship before approaching them with a co-marketing program.  Three of the biggest benefits you can offer a partner are:

  • Reciprocal access to your customers.  The challenge here is that one partner usually has a much larger number of customers than the other.
  • Payment of a referral fee based on the number of leads or revenue generated from the campaign. 
  • Opportunity to sell more business as a result of working with you than if they had approached the marketplace individually.

If you are marketing to prospects who are not existing customers of your company or your partner’s, the rules change somewhat.  You can combine prospecting databases or jointly fund the acquisition of outside mailing or email lists.  Alternately, one company can do more of the funding and the other can handle the lead follow-up.  Every marketing deal is unique but the point is that both partners must have skin in the game and feel they get some of the benefit.

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Don’t limit your imagination because almost every lead generation program you do individually can also be accomplished (at less cost to you) with a partner.  Examples include: email, webinars, content syndication, trade shows, seminars, telemarketing, public relations, pay-per-click marketing, direct mail, print advertising, whitepapers, case studies, and much more.

A couple of thoughts on how to do partner lead generation the right way:

  • If you can, get the partner to launch the outbound communication to their customers or prospects, featuring a strong endorsement of your organization.
  • Don’t create unreasonable expectations that disappoint your partner.  Modest goals that are met are more impressive than grandiose goals that are not achieved.
  • Make sure your partner has a good reputation in the industry.  As the old saying goes, “Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.” 

If you follow the above advice, you are more likely to wake up with fresh sales leads instead of fleas.

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Christopher Ryan

Christopher Ryan has 25 years of marketing, technology, revenue growth experience. As both a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.
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One comment

  • Myron Berg May 9, 2011   Reply →

    I suspect that too often companies don’t think about partnerships in the context of joint marketing campaigns and lead generation. Instead, the focus is on other types of partner relationships; one-way referrals, outsourcing, etc.

    There can be incredible value in co-marketing. One of the keys as you pointed out is that both partners must have skin in the game and both must anticipate a benefit.

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