This is our fifth blog about the Partnership Framework. Here we focus on the Partnership Framework Solutions you are providing, and how to get them partner-ready.

 “Every solution to every problem is simple. It’s the distance between the two where the mystery lies.” ― Derek Landy

Are your solutions ‘partner-ready’?

Engaging with partners requires a different approach to the marketing of products and services. Or rather, it requires a more refined approach compared to direct sales. There are two reasons for this:

  • Partners are at ‘arm’s length’ and have less direct access to your internal resources, and
  • You may need to do some joint solution or joint proposition development. This will be challenging if you don’t fully understand your own solution.

For both direct and indirect (partner) sales, you need a Solution and Proposition Development process. This should take product-based or service-based solutions and hone them into market-ready propositions. The propositions must be rigorously defined in a way that is clear and unambiguous. They may work internally and when presented to customers by your own salespeople, because they know how to fill in the gaps. But your propositions may fail when you take them to a partner. For this reason, we recommend that you run a Solutions Workshop. This workshop ensures the solution is rigorously defined and the positioning clear.

We have a proven process for Solutions Workshops which accelerates the development of the proposition and audience-specific messaging. It ensures that your own and your partners’ salespeople can communicate the value to your own and your partners’ customers. This approach makes it easier to work with partners and improves internal and external communications. Partners can easily understand the proposition and identify their value-add, whether it is in completing the solution – for example by adding services – or in providing access to your target markets.

What is the Solutions element of the Partnership Framework?

The Solutions element of the Partnership Framework defines and communicates the solutions that the partnership will take to the market.

A key objective of most partnerships is to create a sale. And in all but the simplest sales situations, this will be around a solution consisting of both products and services. You need to define the solution and the proposition and document them together with the audience-specific messaging. You can then use this to develop internal and external communications. For companies with a set of solutions, this information can be combined in a partner-ready Portfolio Guide. You can use this to cover all the solutions that you take to market with the partner(s).

Why do you need it?

Are you communicating your capabilities or offer when you haven’t defined your solution, your proposition is ambiguous, or your messaging is generic? That’s a recipe for lost sales. As a prerequisite for working with partners, a clear description of your propositions and audience-based messaging are required. This is to ensure that your partners get a consistent view across their organisation. It will also help them understand the value you bring to the relationship. Pulling this all together in a Portfolio Guide will maximise the opportunities for selling or finding partners that can enhance your solutions.

What are the key activities?

Partnership Framework - Solutions

Solution Development: Define the solution(s) which will be most attractive to the target market(s). Documentation and refinement of solutions that will be sold through and with partners, including the partner value-add.

Proposition Development: Identify and capture the customer benefits of the solution as a value proposition or as a set of value propositions. This covers the development of the ‘to-’, ‘through-’ and ‘with-partner’ propositions.

 

Messaging: Creating simple audience-focused messaging framework for a proposition or solution. Development of messaging to, through and with partners. You can capture this in our Messaging Framework, also part of the Business Marketing Framework.

Portfolio Guide: For companies with a portfolio of products, this is a structured list of solutions for sharing with partners. You should include the value propositions, target markets, messaging, parameters and, if applicable, limitations.

In future posts I’ll delve into other parts of the Partnership Framework. For an introduction, read the Introducing the Partnership Framework post.