How can companies get started forging strategic channel and integration alliances, and scale them effectively with their business? What are the secret ingredients that go into building the perfect business partnership, one that will be mutually beneficial?
In this blog, we explore the reasons channel and integration partnerships are important to growing your business, and the value these partnerships add for your customers. What are the most important criteria to keep in mind as you identify partnerships? And why should you build them?
We also share how and why Envoy creates these integration and channel partnerships, and examples of how they create a better experience for Envoy customers while incentivizing new ones.
So what is a channel partner? Common channel partnership types include:
- Integration partners (technology that enhances yours). Integration partnerships involve offering another company’s product that integrates with and complements your own. For example, one of Envoy’s products is a visitor management solution. So, an integration with a company that provides background checks is advantageous to our business and enhances our customers' experience.
- Re-seller partners (companies that re-sell your product on your behalf). These companies offer and bundle your services as part of their services. Think of a re-seller as a trusted partner, and an extension of your sales team. This also ensures consistency of service.
- Affiliate partners (companies that refer you business). These companies may refer your product as it relates to their larger scope of work and projects. For example, common shared focus areas between your company and an affiliate partner could be security, branding, and efficiency. When companies refer your product as part of a larger project, they get a referral bonus.
These partnerships not only lead to more revenue and visibility for the companies involved, but are often the catalyst to forge and close deals faster. Here’s why.
Why channel and integration partnerships are key to building better customer relationships
So what does an ideal partnership look like? It should push innovation in different directions to further enhance the experience for customers –– what Rocky Paap, Envoy’s Director of Enterprise Sales terms, “building electronic bridges.” “The goal of creating integration and channel partnerships is to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ experience for customers,” says Paap.
A ‘one-stop-shop’ experience means that customers can get the integrations and other products they want easier and more quickly because they are going through the same, trusted vendor. Eliminating some of the most time-consuming elements of the vetting and implementation process for new technology –– such as lengthy legal reviews or creating yet another billing set-up –– a channel and integrations partnership program helps create this experience through streamlining the decision and buying process for customers.
To best build these bridges, and create a ‘one-stop-shop’ experience, you should measure your channel and integration partners against two questions:
- Does this partnership enhance your company mission and product vision?
- How does the partnership positively affect both companies?
For example, at Envoy, we look to build electronic bridges that make the overall workplace experience better. This allows our customers to consolidate their tech, have better visibility into operational processes, to speed up communications and reporting, and to stay in compliance. “That’s where partnership worlds collide,” notes Paap. “Both companies in the partnership work in concert to make the buying and technology experience the best it can be.”
What to look for when identifying integration partners (or tech tools that talk to each other to make work easier)
Integration partners, says Teila Evans, Alliance Manager at Envoy, build extensions to a company’s product platform. This is important because this allows integration partners to capitalize on the investment they have already made in their tool. Integration partnerships are evaluated based on similarity of the company mission and the customers they serve.
Integrations are successful when they save time, improve efficiency, and provide a familiar workflow for users––all key ingredients in creating a “seamless experience for customers,” shares Evans. She’s also quick to note the importance of having a clear partnership profile –– information about the partner company, what they do, and the main ways your companies can collaborate and complement each other’s business––and to expect that it will change. “This will change and grow as your business does, but you need to define what the ideal partner looks like.”
As an example, Envoy built a technology integration partnership with Aruba to improve the employee and visitor WiFi experience. Automatically provisioned, secure, and unique visitor WiFi credentials through Aruba ClearPass keep employees in the same visitor management workflow, while protecting company intellectual property. This way, there’s no need to toggle back and forth between two applications, or spend manual labor sending someone individual WiFi credentials.
“It’s been amazing to see partnerships between Envoy and our integration and channel partners bloom. Partnerships are like a bet; the metrics help you validate whether or not you're moving the needle or moving in the right direction.” – Teila Evans, Alliance Manager, Envoy
Put the match-maker hat on: Channel partnerships leverage existing relationships to get systems up and running faster
“I was drawn to this role not only to help build strong partner relationships and programs but because of the growing demand a company like ours receives as the business matures,” says Mandi Lewis, Channel Manager at Envoy.
Channel partnerships are an extension of the company, and Lewis approaches managing channel partnerships with this top of mind. “There are so many creative ways to build valuable channel partnerships. Most importantly, we champion a vision not limited only to visitor management, but a solution that provides peace of mind, ease of use, and ensures great experiences for customers in all parts of their business.”
The benefits of cultivating strategic channel partnerships include:
- Increased adoption rates by leveraging integration partnerships
- Ability to scale your business much faster
- Accelerate your market footprint
Another value add for customers with channel partnerships? They are an amazing shortcut in the buying process. On the channel re-seller side, offering the opportunity for customers to buy direct through resellers provides the option for all of their bills to be paid under one invoice. Funneling vendors through one channel leverages existing legal partnerships and agreements, and as a result reduces or eliminates separate, lengthy legal compliance process.
Ultimately, this speeds up the customer’s ability to procure and integrate products within their workplace technology ecosystem––a win-win for all involved.
“When the technology is strong, people ask for and enjoy it. Great experiences with the technology we navigate every day in our working lives is so important. The investment in integration and channel partners allows companies to better deliver on that goal.”
Learn more about becoming an Envoy integration or channel partner.