Types of B2B partnerships

February 22, 2023 Deyman Doolittle


B2B partnerships are imperative for growing your business quickly and effectively. At a high level, a B2B partnership is a collaboration between two or more companies with a mutually beneficial goal that will sustain growth and add value to all parties. For example, at ShipSigma we often partner with non-competitor companies tied to the shipping industry in some manner. This allows both parties to extend their reach to new related markets while adding value to their customer’s experience. In this blog, we will discuss types of B2B partnership programs and why they matter to the growth of the business.

What is B2B?

B2B stands for Business to Business and refers to any transaction between businesses, think wholesaler to retailer, rather than business to consumer (B2C) or business to government (B2G).

Why are partnerships important for B2B?

B2B partnerships allow your company to expand its reach into new markets often driving higher revenue and lower churn rates. Partnerships are often a signal of trust, creating a wider sales reach and brand stickiness. Selling to a partner’s customer increases the sales win rate by up to 39% and potential deal size by up to 45%. However, it’s important that you have the right type of partnership to see these successes.

Types of B2B Partnerships

There are three types of B2B partnerships, strategic partnerships, channel partnerships, and tech partnerships.

Strategic Partnerships

These relationships can come to fruition through a standard strategic partnership, a strategic marketing partnership, or an integration partnership.

Strategic partnerships are partnerships formed by two non-competitive companies whose products or services complement each other. So, you may ask, what is an example of a strategic partnership?

Strategic Partnership Examples

We’re so glad you asked. The short answer, Starbucks. Starbucks is a master at strategic partnerships. Their relationships with businesses like Barnes and Noble and Target are brilliant. When customers enter a Starbucks within a Target, they are more likely to wander the floor and when customers enter a Target and see a Starbucks, they are more likely to stop and get a drink. These companies mutually benefit from the partnership and mutually experience revenue growth.

Strategic Marketing Partnership Examples

These are similar to strategic partnerships but focus on a joint promotion from companies in different markets or industries. A great example of a strategic marketing partnership is Apple and Mastercard. When the Apple Pay app was released, Mastercard become the first credit card company to allow its users to store their card information on the app. This allowed Mastercard to get ahead of its competition while giving Apple Pay the opportunity to succeed with the backing of a major credit card.

Integration Partnership Examples

Integration partnerships are when two or businesses automate processes and communications between them to effectively communicate with customers, suppliers, and service partners – they integrate aspects of their own business into the others. This only works when the companies involved have overlapping ICPs (ideal customer personas) and complimentary products. One use case is when TripAdvisor integrated Deliveroo’s platform into its site.

Channel Partnerships

Channel partnerships, also known as partner programs, typically exist as external promotion of a company through affiliates, wholesalers, private sellers, and other distributors.

What is a Partner Program?

A partner program is a way to incentivize channel partners (businesses or individuals) to help you grow and accomplish your business goals. Typically, this happens through commissions or another avenue for growth.

The benefits of channel partners include market expansion with a new audience and a built-in trust signal for consumers. Channel partnerships can also reduce marketing and promotional efforts from the company itself.

Tech Partnerships

A tech partnership, similar to the integration partnership described above, is defined as a mutually beneficial relationship between two tech companies. Today, we most often see this through phone app integrations like Spotify and Waze. These non-competitive companies chose to integrate/partner to bring both their audiences a better user experience.

B2B Partnership Questions

Regardless of the type of partnership that you are hoping to begin, make sure you start by asking your own team the right questions. This will help create direction and clarity for your program launches. We recommend asking 6 key questions:

  1. Which type of partnership program is right for your company?
  2. What are the goals of your partnership program & do they align with your company goals?
  3. To whom does the manager of partnerships report?
  4. What metrics are you tracking to define success?
  5. What technology will this partner program need?
  6. How will you scale your partnership program?

Once you’ve got clear answers to these six questions, and a budget to back it up, you are ready to start your B2B partnership outreach!

B2B Partnership Examples

Now that you know what B2B partnerships are, we thought we’d leave you with some inspiration from some of our favorite examples.

GoPro & RedBull

This partnership is master level. Two lifestyle brands coming together to support and promote action sports. Red Bull sponsors these events while GoPro provides the equipment for the athletes and competitors to capture the events from their perspective. "GoPro camera technology is allowing us to complement the programming by delivering new athlete perspectives that have never been seen before," said Sean Eggert, Red Bull's director of sports marketing. This collaboration created an exponential amount of new content for both brands allowing them to expand to new audiences and continue to grow.

Taco Bell & Doritos

The Doritos Locos Taco. Outside of the delicious concept, co-branding is what set this partnership apart. The teams created ads showing tacos coming out of Doritos chip bags to appeal to both audiences. And it worked, Taco Bell sold over 1 billion units in its first year alone.

Starbucks & Spotify

The first “music ecosystem” of its kind. Starbucks employees are given premium Spotify subscriptions to curate playlists accessible on the Starbucks Mobile App. As a Starbucks app user, you can select a playlist to play while you’re in the coffee house. This encouraged Spotify users to download the Starbucks app to have a say in what music was being played, and Starbucks patrons to download Spotify if they wanted to continue listening to a playlist when they left their local Starbucks. This partnership allowed both brands to reach the other’s audience without sacrificing their own brand.

Partner with ShipSigma

B2B partnerships are so important to growing a business. At ShipSigma, we have built a thriving ecosystem of partners. With offerings from carrier contract negotiation to parcel invoice auditing, shipping analytics, and beyond, ShipSigma's partners extend both their reach and value by broadening their offerings and increasing their revenue. To learn more about becoming a ShipSigma partner, connect with us today.

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