Nearbound 101: Types of B2B Partnerships

The various types or structures of B2B partnerships

This month we're going to focus on all things Nearbound - aka ecosystem and partnerships. There is a whole bunch of data that confirms this is an effective strategy for many B2B businesses and I've always been a big fan. 

If we zoom way out, there are 3 primary sources of lead generation - 

  1. Inbound - generated through marketing efforts (organic and paid) 

  2. Nearbound - generated through referrals from formal and informal partners 

  3. Outbound - generated through targeted cold outbound 

And the source of your lead often impacts the average conversion rate or probability of closing.  

Inbound converts at the highest rate on average, followed by referrals, followed by cold outbound. Like many things in life, the best ones require the most time and effort.

This is a good visual: 

We're going to focus on the middle one this month, which has a new trendy name in the GTM world...Nearbound. 

Types of B2B Partnerships

Before we dig into how to identify and activate the best partners in the coming weeks, let's go over a few fundamentals. 

There are dozens of ways two organizations can structure a partnership, but I'll offer a simple structure to bucket them in your mind. 

Partnerships are generally...

  • Formal or Informal -

    • Formal being supported by a partnership agreement, and/or, a defined co-marketing initiative or campaign with assigned resources and budget.

    • And informal with no agreement or allocation of resources and budget, generally supported at the individual contributor level (sales rep). I often refer to informal partnerships as my 'ecosystem' and formal partnerships as 'partners' in my CRM or as internal vernacular. 

  • And then formal partnerships generally fall into one, or more, of these categories - 

    • Marketing Partnerships 

    • Distribution Partnerships 

    • Product Partnerships

Marketing Partnerships

Marketing partnerships can also take many forms. Some common structures include - 

  • Affiliate Partnerships - In the B2B world, this might look like my business (sales consulting), promoting sales software I like. I share software I recommend with my network through my newsletter, social, blogs, etc with a tracking link and get rewarded financially for conversions. This would generally be used for lower cost products that don't necessarily require a sales meeting. 

  • Content Co-Marketing - This could include guest blogs (with backlinks to help SEO), social media co-marketing, or a co-hosted webinar to name a few examples.  

  • Sponsorship or Event Co-Marketing - Co-hosting a dinner, co-sponsoring an event or booth, or promoting one another's events to your audiences. 

Distribution Partnerships 

Distribution partnerships are all about a business using its distribution channels to generate leads for one another. I know...similar to marketing but the former is more goal oriented towards generating awareness, whereas with distribution the primary goal is generating leads (aka meetings and hopefully closed deals). 

Some distribution partnership structures might look like - 

  • Lead Account Mapping (and Co-Selling) - Mapping their prospects/customers to yours and identifying overlap (aka where is your customer their prospect and vis versa, AND, where do you share customers already, AND where are you chasing the same prospects). And then collaborating to educate one another's salesforce, make introductions, share intel, etc. Potentially in exchange for a revenue share or financial award. There are some cools that help you do this faster now - two I've used are Crossbeam and Reveal

  • Reselling (or White-Labeling) - Where you give permission to another entity to sell your product under their brand, potentially at a markup or for a revenue share. 

  • Bundling - Creating packages, bundles, or incentives for a customer to purchase both products simultaneously or sequentially (e.g.  Buy HubSpot and Clearbit for one fixed price, OR, once you buy HubSpot you can get access to Clearbit for 'free for 6 months'). 

Product Partnerships 

Also known as technology partnerships. Which might look like - 

  • Integration - Building a native app or connection between two systems/products 

  • Platform - A platform that provides access to other products (like Google or Apple's app store) 

Alright, hopefully that provides a good framework to organize your thoughts! Next week we'll focus on how to identify the best partner targets. 

Questions? Shoot them over! You've got this!! 

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With love and gratitude, 

Jess Schultz

Founder & CEO

Amplify Group