Building the Flywheel Starts with Your Partners

Building the Flywheel Starts with Your Partners

Gary Sabin 5 min

Imagine this: You’ve integrated into a partner-led organization where growth happens seamlessly. Your salesforce is distributed through the partnership ecosystem across the globe. Your marketing team enlists your partners to build narratives that win. Your product team co-innovates with partners to delight the customer.


By involving your partners from day one, you create forward momentum and set the growth flywheel in motion.

Getting this flywheel spinning isn’t easy. It takes forethought and commitment to embed your partner’s fingerprints into every facet of your organization, including the most critical element: your product.


The problem most talented partnership leaders face is expanding the organization’s view of partner-led growth. They are up against stale mindsets that if the product is great, partners will come, and the flywheel will take off. They tend to think that if they build the product they’ve been dreaming of, it’s bound to get the flywheel in motion.


Wrong!


Building the flywheel doesn’t start with your product - it starts with your partners.


Great products are perfected with partners

Partners demand a high-quality, seamless experience. They’ve come to expect first-class service. They’re used to downloading apps on their phone and having them just work. Most apps don’t require any training, and that’s how it should be.


Gary Sabin, Jared Fuller, Lisa Perry, and Kim Jaeger discuss the importance of involving partners in your product development process at PL[X].


Whether you are just starting to build a product or establishing and expanding development, partners need to be part of the process. Establishing consistent 2-way partner communication can be the difference between settling and growth.


You need to reach out and ask your partners what they want.


It’s a simple but powerful idea.


You’d be surprised how often product teams are willing to plow ahead without first talking to their partners about their needs. So many of the best ideas are right in front of us, but we won’t discover them unless we ask.

It is a kind of narcissism that we need to overcome. We tend to think we know best.


One of our core values at GitLab is iteration. We keep interating based on the voice of the partner. We want to create the user experience that our partners want. - Kim Jaeger of GitLab


Rather than reaching out to our partners for feedback, we put our nose to the grindstone and chisel away at our masterpiece. We toil away only to find out that the new feature we built isn’t something our partners care about.

When you invite your partners in at the ground level of your product design, you open up to the serendipity of co-innovation, which wouldn’t have been possible without your partners. You’ll also save yourself a ton of time and headaches down the road.


If you don’t involve your partners at the early stages of product design, you’ll be forced to go back and incorporate their feedback later anyways. But more importantly, when you build with your partners, you’ll have built something your customers actually want. Your partners know your customers intimately. They’ll give valuable feedback you hadn’t even thought of.


When you build with partners, you’ll design something your customers will love from day one.


The great partner awakening

There is an awakening that happens when you go-to-market with partners. When you realize you don’t already know what your partners want, it opens up doors to think creatively with partners. It frees you up to focus on what you are good at - building amazing products.


You can save a lot of time by involving your partners. When you lean into your partners, they will tell you what they need. They’ll mention things like single-sign-on, and other things that could make the product better. - Lisa Stifelman Perry of Splunk


At Impartner, we design our products with great base layers in mind and leave it to our partners to add their secret sauce. We’ve strategically decided to enable partners to bring their expertise to our base layer. We occasionally have cases where we build something special a partner wants, but we always start with a great base layer.


We like to think of how building a great product is like building a house. You don’t start by designing your own fixtures, your own toilet, or your own bathtub. You get the general layout that you want and go from there. You may add your own flair to one aspect of the house, but you don’t start by designing custom doorknobs. You leave that to great partners.


The future of the flywheel

Understanding your partner’s needs is the first step toward getting the flywheel in motion. To capture its forward momentum, you need to be willing to listen to your partners. Maintaining the flywheel takes a willingness to be open to the serendipity of co-innovation from day one of product design.


By focusing on the partner experience at the outset, you enable partners to add value to your base layer design. Keeping the flywheel in motion isn’t easy, but when you involve your partners, you add the forward tilt needed to keep your customers delighted with your product.


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Gary Sabin 5 min

Building the Flywheel Starts with Your Partners


By involving your partners from day one, you create forward momentum and set the growth flywheel in motion.


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