Essential Elements in Building Successful Partnerships

Earlier in May, I was invited to speak at the first ever InfluenceHR Conference organized by George LaRocque and Laurie Ruettimann.  It was a very unique conference.  No HR Practicioners - just Technology and Service Providers from the HR industry.  George and Laurie wanted to bring together a group and present best practices of how to position and market to the HR Executive.  They also brought people like me in to provide ideas on different go to market strategies.

One thing that I have witnessed in the HR Technology space is that there is an unprecedented amount of innovation happening today.  It is easier than ever to get a new technology to market given the explosion of Cloud Computing/Software-As-A-Service.  In addition, it is significantly easier to integrate different software given integration/API tools.  I met some very cool new companies at this conference.  Some are just getting off the ground, while others are growing fast due to an awesome product niche. 

My topic was something near and dear to what I do every day at HireVue - Building and Growing a Partner Ecosystem.  I could write pages on this topic, but I'll refrain for this blog post. What I do want to point out is that it is very important for a company considering a new partnership strategy or altering their existing one to understand where they fit on the Customer Adoption Curve**(NOTE: see chart below). In brand new markets where you are trying to acquire customers, it is important to get some credibility from bigger partners who have brand recognition with your target customer base.  That could be via an Integration Partner or even a Referral Partner who is looking to monetize their customer base and bring valuable tools to their clients.  If your market is a little more mature and your buyer knows what your solution does, it might be more cost effective to explore re-seller relationships to grow your top line vs. hiring a big sales force.  Those also can be helpful when going to market in different countries.  Another thing to think about is where your solution fits in your customer value chain.  What other software do your power users live in every day?  Are there opportunities to integrate these technologies to make their lives easier? 

Finally, in order for your Partner Strategy to be successful, you MUST resource it appropriately.  Signing the partnership agreement is the easy part.  Who is responsible for short term and long term success?  Is that their only job or are they doing it part time?  How about your partners… do they have dedicated resources?  As I look back on the most successful partnerships I have ever been associated with, there are always dedicated resources on both sides of the partnership defining and driving success.  They also have very strong relationships cross functionally on both sides. 

So…does your company partner effectively?  What is unique about your partnerships?  Let's continue the discussion. 

**See Crossing The Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore

You can connect with Josh Schwede, VP Business Development, HireVue on Twitter @HireVueJosh or LinkedIn.

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