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Hi I’m SandraLee Spigner. Having worked in both sales and partner management for more than 30 years and managing hundreds of partner relationships, I have seen some interesting trends emerge over the last few years. Partners within the Healthcare Communication Business are the roots to the manufacture. Without them, the Manufacture does not have a solid foundation enabling us to maintain a healthy relationship with our end users. Also, having a strong relationship with our partners we have more feet on the street selling our product assisting us in gaining market share.
Almost half of B2B marketing decision makers have identified that improving their partner programs, experience, and communications go hand-in-hand with improved customer satisfaction and retention.
So what are the keys to successfully working with partners? Here is what I have seen.
- A “one size fits all” approach used to work but doesn’t anymore .Focus on mutual success with your partners. Make them want to be YOUR partner.
- Regardless of your initial contact point, it is imperative that we work from the top down as well as from the bottom up.
- Market Development Funds (MDF) are harder to come by. So think about how are you strategically positioning MDF opportunities around marquee events (live or virtual) and making sure you have tools in place to report on results of their investments.
- New technologies have emerged to help manage partner relationships the same way that you use a CRM system to manage your sales team. This includes how social media plays a huge part in your sales and marketing mix, but also tunes you in to how to be a huge resource to your partners.
Are you watching where your partners are focusing, where they find their news, where they learn about your products? Who are the key influencers within your ecosystem? If you spend the time to look at the speakers, board members, contributors, digital creators, consultants, analysts, and media professionals, you can easily set up ways to determine who your key influencers are.
Maybe it is 10 people, maybe it is 100 people. Then the hard, ongoing work starts.
- If you haven’t already met them, put a plan in place to meet them. Zoom or Skype are great options right now, since tradeshows have been put on hold.
- Develop a conversional list of things that you want to know about them and THEIR business. What are their pain points, their Unique Value Proposition (UVP), etc. But also some questions about where they live, how they got to the place they are in their career. Do they have kids? Dog or Cat lover? This gives you a more personal way to connect and get to know them. Having a personal relationship with your partners enables you to have those difficult conversations but also celebrate their wins.
- Don’t get hung up on titles within your partner organizations. You’d be surprised at where great ideas and insights come from, and where you can get great information from that will help you manage your partner relationships better. This is where your most important insights are going to come from, and show them how you can come together and make stuff happen. Whether it is an executive briefing or the front line person, the more you know, the better you can help assist in helping them grow their business and increase your market share.
- Plan on how to educate your partners, whether it is about your current product or a new product solution. It is very important to make sure your partners are well educated and understand the market they are selling within. You want them to be able to deliver YOUR UVP and how you are different from your competition. It is vitally important you equip your Partners are well verse in your product, enabling them to be an additional arm of your business to promote your brand and sell your product.
With both our distributors and our direct clients. Let us know how we can help you be successful in the ever changing landscape of healthcare.
Guest Author Bio
SandraLee Spigner is an experienced Senior Marketing Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. Skilled in Account Management, Strategic Planning, Business Development, Leadership, and Project Management. Connect with SandraLee Spigner – @LinkedIn