Do You Know Your Public and Private Ecosystems?

Do You Know Your Public and Private Ecosystems?

Vaughn Mordecai 23 min

In this article you’ll learn: 

  • The definitions of public and private ecosystems

  • High-level frameworks and tactical strategies for creating public and private ecosystems 

  • Tools for executing the explained strategies 

 

Data was the new oil until data became a noise. 

 

Everyone can use the plethora of software and platforms at their disposal to access data on the buyer journey. And, in the same way, everyone can use marketing and sales automation to weaponize that data. 

 

So, trust became the new data

 

In today’s market, the pithiest, most well-timed outbound email isn’t going to matter if the buyer receiving it doesn’t believe in you. The only way to win and keep the buyer is by aligning yourself with the people they are already working with and already trust.

 

But the question then becomes: how can we build trust in systematic and measurable ways? Where does trust already live with my buyers, and how can I leverage it to build trust between buyers and my company?

 

The answer lies in understanding the ecosystems you and your buyers are living in—the connections and watering holes that your buyers are already a part of—and working to build relationships with the people and companies that are already influencing them. 

The three eras of B2B

But, before we dive into the types of ecosystems and how they impact your GTM, we need to take a look back to understand why the buyer distrusts us so much, and how that impacts how we go to market today. 

 

The evolution of B2B can be understood through three distinct eras, each marked by significant shifts in approach and technology. 

 

The Era of Sales Digitization, emerging in the 2000s, was characterized by the transformative power of data accessed through the "cloud." This era allowed for precise tracking, updating, and analysis of information, revolutionizing sales processes. However, traditional indirect channels struggled to keep pace with the rapid innovations of this digital age.

 

The subsequent Era of Marketing Automation, unfolding in the 2010s, maintained the dominance of data but shifted the focus to marketing processes. Technology facilitated direct access to a burgeoning customer base for B2B SaaS companies, leveraging data as the fuel and automation as the accelerant. The era witnessed a decline in the relevance of legacy indirect channels, unable to adapt swiftly to the dynamic landscape of emerging technologies.

 

As we step into the current Era of Partner Ecosystems (2020+). The emphasis is no longer solely on direct-to-customer models but on the recognition of the pivotal role played by partnerships. B2B companies are realizing that enduring success requires collaboration and the establishment of robust ecosystems with strategic partners. Despite predictions of a decline in indirect sales, there is a simultaneous effort by major players to recruit new partners, highlighting a nuanced and evolving landscape in the B2B realm. 

 

The journey from sales digitization to marketing automation has now brought us to a point where partnerships and ecosystems are paramount for businesses with enduring aspirations.

The era of partner ecosystems: the Nearbound Era

In this era, companies place significant value on their ecosystem, treating it with the same importance as customers, products, and internal teams. The key characteristics of the Era of Partner Ecosystems can be summarized as follows:

 

  1. Equal emphasis on customer and partner experience: Companies recognize that the success of the business relies on harmonizing the satisfaction of both customers and partners.

  2. The complexity of building partnerships: The process involves prioritizing, finding, recruiting, onboarding, educating, training, incentivizing, and motivating partners. 

  3. Focusing on changing the game for all stakeholders: The dedication to partner and business ecosystems is not confined to a particular organizational level; it is recognized as a transformative force that involves the entire organization. 

 

In the Era of Sales Digitalization and Marketing Automation, companies competed to get information in front of the right people at the right time. 

 

Now, in the Nearbound Era, companies battle for influence. But where does influence come from? It’s certainly not from viral, flash-in-the-pan posts or swanky celebrity sponsorships. 

 

True influence comes from trust, and trust comes from those who help. 

 

We don’t have the room or resources to waste on sales pitches and interruptions. We only have room for proof, and, as the data shows, the best proof comes from those we already have a relationship with. 

 

 

Buyers are hungry for that human element. They are seeking out people who have been where they want to go, or that they have worked in close proximity with. They are going to sources like LinkedIn, Partnership Leaders, or Pavilion to find real people like them who have faced the same real problems.

 

This is what nearbound leverages; it’s about connecting the right people to people and should be layered in on every strategy and department in your organization. 

 

What are B2B ecosystems?

A B2B ecosystem consists of all networked accounts and contacts linked to the commerce and information they share. Your ecosystem can be conformed by partners (companies/accounts) and communities (individuals) that help you provide value to your end customers (users), and revenue. 

 

Leveraging ecosystems can look like co-selling, co-marketing, co-servicing, co-building—basically, co-everything. 

 

B2B ecosystems can be segmented by verticals, ICP, size of market, and territory. And can be classified into private or public. 

 

 

Public ecosystems

Public business ecosystems involve goods and services that are produced and consumed by the general public. They’re typically open and transparent, with easy access.

 

Some examples are the Internet, open-source software, and public blockchain networks.

 

In partnerships, a public ecosystem involves all the potential partners, consultants, influencers, resellers, referrers, and integrators that an individual company could work with, and the tactics, recruiting, and marketing activities involved in engaging them.

 

Some examples of public ecosystems are:

  • Marketplaces: Distributor and hyper-scaler marketplaces

  • Partner locators: Allow customers to expose their partner directory on both their community and the internet.

  • Partner prioritization and recruiting platforms and databases: Companies harvest public data and prioritize partners based on frameworks for the IPP.

  • Partnership events: Free and paid online, in-person, or hybrid events.

  • Social media and association groups: There’s no end to the partnership of social content, LinkedIn groups, and tech associations. 

  • Other: distributors, consultants, integrators, and businesses that you can openly leverage.

Private ecosystems

Private business ecosystems involve products and services that are created and consumed by a limited group of people or organizations. They’re usually closed off and private, with limited access. 

 

Some examples are a company’s internal network, a group of banks that share a payment system, and private blockchain networks.

 

In partnerships, private ecosystems are the partners that have "behind the scenes" access to each other to build, create, and plan shared products and services. These are the relationships you see when established partners sell and plan together, and use co-sell strategies to go to market together. 

 

Some examples of private ecosystems include:

  • Next-gen PRMs: that include end-to-end partner automation and Partner Marketing Capabilities

  • Account mapping companies: like Reveal and Crossbeam

  • Business planning software: like Qollabi and Successful Channels

  • Fund management platforms: MDF & Incentives like E2Open & 360Insights

  • Program strategy companies: like Spur-Reply, Partner Path, and K1 Channel Consulting

Public vs. private ecosystems

Public and private ecosystems work as a loop—they depend on each other. However, they have key differences that can help you build a better partnership journey: 

 

 

Goals

Actions

Strategies

Metrics

Public ecosystems

- Influence revenue

- Help you distribute and promote your product 

- Purchase easily from partners

- Recruit and prioritize the right partners

- Learn what your customer wants and needs, what are they talking about

- Build relationships

-Leverage LinkedIn

- Networking 

-Events

- Keywords

- Tech stack

- Topics

- Influencers

- Revenue

- Customer overlaps

Private ecosystems

- Generate direct revenue

- Bridge the gaps of your product/service, - Onboard and engage partners

 

- Identify customer overlaps 

- NDAs

- Build internal communication channels with your partners: use Slack

- Compliance and partner enablement

- Share intel across the different stakeholders 

-Co-selling, ABM, 

- Market share

- Revenue

 

 

 

How to leverage public and private ecosystems?

 

To better leverage the synergy between these two types of ecosystems, follow the ICE partnership framework: Identify, collaborate, and execute. 

Identify

Since public ecosystems have access to intel from partners and the market, companies need to leverage signals like keywords, topics, and people who are talking to their customers to identify what they really want. 

 

Public ecosystems are rich in data like market, persona, and account overlap, revenue potential, and new prospects that can help you recruit and create a strong joint value proposition to enable the right partners.

 

Collaborate

Having access to private ecosystem tactics and tools gives you the advantage of fostering collaboration to onboard partners and help them start generating revenue quickly. 

 

Here is also where your Sales team leverages that intel received from the identify phase, and collaborates with partners to work on a specific deal. Private ecosystems help you to automate routine tasks, communication processes, and data sharing, allowing your team to focus on relationship-building and revenue generation. 

 

Use private ecosystem tactics and tools to expedite the onboarding process for partners. Provide them with the necessary resources, training, and access to collaborative platforms to help them start generating revenue swiftly.

 

Execute 

Use public ecosystem tactics to let people know about the value of your business, and to purchase easily from you and your partners. The key here is to go to market with your partner and not through them. 

 

A public ecosystem gives you access to communication channels that are clear and easily accessible. They create multiple touchpoints for potential partners to reach out, whether through your website, social media, or designated partnership email addresses. 

 

Public and private ecosystems are symbiotic.

 

When you follow the ICE framework, your partner program will be more effective, your partners will be more engaged, and you’ll hit your revenue goals more frequently. 

 

Leveraging both types of ecosystems is an infinite loop. Public ecosystems can help you sell, retain, discover, prioritize, and expand your partnerships, meanwhile, the private ecosystem helps you onboard, enable, strategize, and engage partners. 

 

This means you can make your close rate go up by 3x, and increase it 5x more whenever all your internal teams and your partner teams are aligned. 

 

 

Nurturing and maintaining trust in your public and private ecosystems 

How to align your North Star metrics to the ICE framework 

Partners are not only external; your Sales, Marketing, Product, and Customer Success teams are also your partners, so before starting your partner program, identify your internal team’s needs and goals, and how are you going to make them succeed. 

 

Think about your internal partners. They are one of the core pieces to build a successful program and the ones you need to align your goals to.

 

Start with them from day one. Figure out what type of program are you running, identify the OKRs within the org that are aligned to that, and build your partnership strategy with those folks so they have a voice in, to drive more alignment. 

 

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Understand your partner’s goals. What makes me “interesting”? Why should they want to work with me?

  • Understand your team’s goals. What do they care about? How are they getting paid?

 

How to best identify, prioritize, and go after the right partners (public)

Leveraging data is key to unlocking valuable insights and optimizing partnerships. Selecting a partnership just because you have common goals is not enough; you need data to support how you’re going to reach those goals. It’s also the only way you’ll get buy-in from your team. 

 

Here’s what you need to consider as you identify, prioritize, and recruit partners: 

  • Build your IPP. Never judge a partner by what shows up on paper. Some partners look great on paper and turn out to be a nightmare to work with. Some partners are the opposite.

  • Evaluate and scope a new partner. Align KPIs, ICP alignment (data like demographic, psychographic, technographic, purchase behavior, and reviews), your partner’s willingness and capability to get the work done, your partner’s internal team size, etc. 

  • Take the time to find partner contacts. Leverage your ecosystem, and tools like Hubspot, to find companies. Use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator to find target contacts (ideally the Director of Partnerships, Owner, or Revenue Officer). Then find some names by using tools like Apollo.ai to get the contact info.

How to enable and engage partners (private) 

Partnerships are a two-way street, to keep your partner engaged you have to give first, and here’s what you can do to make that happen: 

  • Use data you obtain from success indicators to state where your partnership is going. Identify your common prospects, contract values, partners’ customers, overlap on open opportunities, and where you might be able to give and get support on these opportunities. 

  • Establish a dedicated channel to provide intel. You have to bring the intel into the flows that your team and partners are already working in, be it either Slack, Salesforce, or HubSpot. 

  • Offer incentives to enhance performance. Set clear expectations, and improve performance by giving small incentives as your partner and your partner’s teams complete their training, or help in the sales cycle.

 

Enabling your teams and partners is essential to an engaged and successful relationship. In partnerships, there’s no “get” without a “give”. So, here’s a systematic way to help your partner and your team understand and reciprocate the power of data: 

  • Win-win weekly meetings. Have weekly one-to-one meetings with your GTM team (AEs, Partner Managers, CSM) and partners, and use that time to build reciprocity. Ask your team/partner what opportunities are they working on right now, if those opportunities are connected with existing customers, and where can you help them. Account Map together and track the progress. 

  • Track your efforts. Keep an eye on all your outbound requests for intel or intros to help support new opportunities. Keep an eye on the pipeline and overlaps to identify where you can reciprocate with either intel or intros. Try to have at least the same amount of intros provided and requested. 

  • Make your partner’s life easier. Give them software to automate tasks and administrative actions, so they can focus on what they are best at: building relationships. 

 

How to integrate partners into your operations (private) 

Partner Managers can create processes to make it easy for AE’s to request intros, influence, and intel from partners. Here’s the moment where the 3 I’s of nearbound can help your teams to close more revenue: 

  • Intel is any information that your partners and/or partnership technology can provide you about an opportunity.

  • Influence is using your relationships to advance the prospect to the next step. The goal is to surround the buyer with influence at every step of their journey. 

  • Intros are the holy grail. You are leveraging trust at its highest level with your partner to get you connected with the right people.

 

Results of leveraging the 3 I’s of Nearbound include: 

  • AEs close more deals with the help of partners.

  • Marketing teams can target accounts with a better and tailored message and produce NQLs (Nearbound Qualified Leads–accounts that have a high potential to convert). 

  • Customer Success teams can get signals that will help them reduce their churn rate.

How to GTM with partners (public)

Partnerships are not a department, but a strategy that needs to be added to all departments. As GTM partners mentioned at the Nearbound Summit, there are 6 basic GTM motions: inbound, outbound, product, partner, event, and community. You should go to market with your partners, not through them. 

 

Here are some tips on how to layer partners to boost each of them: 

  • Inbound: Build an ABM campaign based on nearbound data. Build your account list based on what partners are they currently working with, what technologies your ICP has, or who have they previously talked with. And then tailor your message according to those segments. 

  • Outbound: Build a co-selling motion based on open opportunities. Identify your and your partner’s common open opportunities and build your target list of prospects. Then align your shared goals, organize the segment data by rep and team, and build a joint value proposition. Finally, execute a prep call to talk about the common opportunities and the best strategy to approach them. 

  • Product: By leveraging their partnership, companies can integrate and provide comprehensive solutions to their customers. Ultimately, by solving the customers’ problems through one solution, businesses make themselves invaluable to customers’ day-to-day lives, thereby creating an enhanced customer experience, and increasing stickiness.

  • Events: There is a pool of experts and influencers that are talking about the same subject you want to share with your audience and involve them in your event. Just make sure to do your homework and research your prospective partner. Take your time building your IPP, to make sure that person has the trust of your audience and aligns with your values. 

  • Community: To market together with your community, you have to monitor the engagement on live sessions, share your content roadmap and identify which member of the community has expertise in that topic and wants to collaborate to produce that content, and finally involve all those members who have already achieved the promised land to build a more robust content strategy. 

 

Scaling trust in public and private ecosystems

Trust and revenue are two things that can’t be scaled in spreadsheets or sticky notes. You need to start automating the way you do business. 

 

And consider that you’re not selling to companies anymore, you’re selling to people. So, build relationships before you start to sell. The key here relies on changing that reactive relationship to active revenue. 

 

 

It’s true that it’s hard to scale relationships, but if you start tracking who are you taking to, where are they influencing, how are they bringing you into deals, know which accounts they own, and how you can help them, you will be able to do three things: 

  • Market to your potential customers, partners, and customers appropriately. 

  • Build a win-win relationship where you can ask for intros, intel, and influence to the right people.

  • Know how are your partners performing, repeat what’s working, and change what’s not performing well.

Top tip: Keep track of your relationships and contacts. Make sure all of them live in your CRM (whether it’s Salesforce or HubSpot) and have accurate and updated data. 

Scaling partner identification and prioritization

Your ecosystem is the best source of new ultra-qualified leads—with a 43% increase in average win rate. But sometimes, when you don’t have the appropriate platform, it might be hard to find and prioritize partners. 

 

Reveal is the Nearbound Revenue Platform that brings partner data into your CRM so you can leverage intel, intros, and influence from those your buyers already trust.

 

Reveal allows you to grow through your partner ecosystem by identifying the right partners to work with based on account overlap, sharing data securely, and revealing untapped opportunities in your existing network.

Finding the right partner

The Directory is Reveal’s solution for partner managers who want to find high-potential partnerships, no matter what stage their partner program is in. Here you can find companies that:

  • You have been listed as a Partner in your CRM

  • Recommended partners by Reveal (based on high overlaps) 

  • Companies you may know

With this feature, you can easily identify where a potential partner is selling, the contact overlaps, the company’s ecosystem, and type. 

 

Reveal’s directory overview

Prioritize the right opportunities

Reveal’s 360° Goals is the perfect way to map your entire ecosystem of partners to find, prioritize, and leverage opportunities according to your goals: identify your overlaps, source opportunities, influence deals, expand to new markets, retain your customers, and co-sell. 

 

Reveal’s 360 Goals overview

 

360° Goals is not changing the process of how you do account mapping. It is the same data-sharing process, but this time the results are more oriented on the ways you’re being measured by your company. 

 

Select and prioritize the right partner and customer based on partner presence, market, partner signals, account status, and open opportunities. 

 

 

 

Thanks to your ecosystem signals, Reveal shows you which accounts are worth focusing on to increase your win rate and deal size. Use second-party data from your ecosystem to prioritize and score your accounts more accurately for your Sales teams. 

 

Benefit from the latest intel from the partners who are closest to your prospects to get a clearer picture of who could be your best targets, especially when you are entering new markets.

 

 

Scaling collaboration and execution 

To effectively engage partners, you need to ensure there’s a clear path to achieving your goals together. If there is no system in place, or partners in your private ecosystem do not know the next step to take, attrition quickly happens - they move on to another partner that can gain them business success. 

 

Mindmatrix is a next-gen partner relationship management system that brings clarity to the path forward on collaboration and execution so no questions are left unanswered and momentum after entering the private ecosystem can continue.

 

Mindmatrix brings elements of sales and marketing together. The Bridge PRM and Partner Marketing Software streamlines the collaboration process by properly deploying necessary assets at the right time. For co-marketing, systems are in place from templatized content, the ability to personalize, through to reporting on asset use and successfulness. For co-selling, systems are in place from lead-gen through to configure-price-quote (CPQ) and commission payouts.

Onboarding and enabling partners

Giving partners immediate access to the who, what, when, where, and why all within a one-stop dashboard is critical for them to understand how they will be successful in this program.

 

A path to the first win, however it’s defined, is critical to start the journey in the private ecosystem. Giving partners the lay of the land is step 1 before everything else.

 

Clarity drives action. Without knowing the direction toward an individual’s KPIs, they immediately direct their attention elsewhere. Real-time and right-sized enablement for partners will move them through the infinity loop and stay on the path to success.

 

Mindmatrix has a built-in learning management system that allows sellers and partners to become certified within the partnership. It also helps them (and you) to track their progress. All of this rolls up into a dashboard where you can see performance over time so that you can iterate on the process.

 

Successful onboarding and enablement give partners insight to your offerings and customers. They can then become educated on who you’re selling to (ideal customer profile) and why the solution fits their needs. Mindmatrix’s Bridge gives a 360-degree view of leads that even tracks prospect activities so that sellers on either side can understand buyer behavior.

 

This in-depth information is critical for enabling action. Without the profile of who, the activities they take, why they are on this journey, and the data around what works best, there is no clear path to revenue for you or your partner.

 

Engaging Partners

It’s not just your buyers’ behaviors that can be tracked, but also your partners’. Understanding where partners are either disengaged, ignorant, or simply unsure of the next step to take will give you insight into what action you need to take to better engage them.

 

This is where having partner engagement data surfaced is essential for every partner team to make the most of their partnerships. Workflows and automation can be created to indicate what needs attention, why it needs attention, and when it should be actioned.

 

In this, custom workflows can be created for effectively every scenario! Right-time engagement is critical for squashing any misinterpretations of the value your partnership can bring.

 

By being able to create custom workflows for every scenario within the collaboration and execution phase, partners will never skip a beat, allowing you to maintain momentum with them. This is all effectively done when mapped against the Buyer’s Journey, so that the right content is served at the right time. With partners properly guided alongside your marketing and sales processes, while aligning to the buyer, they are then able to take the most appropriate steps at the right time.

 

In creating workflows and surfacing information at the right time, you will be able to drive action with partners and ultimately generate revenue.

 

The infinity loop 

There’s no ying without yang. That’s how you need to think about public and private ecosystems. If you want to launch a successful GTM motion, you need BOTH. 

 

You can’t start a partnership without intel. You can’t drive revenue without partner enablement. You can’t promote your product if you don’t engage with your partner. 

 

Both ecosystems are interconnected; they build, nurture, and scale trust in a way that they continuously feed into each other.

 

It’s like Latané Conant, CRO at 6sense said during the Nearbound Summit: 

 

“Nearbound and your partner ecosystem are a good way to create intangible assets. This means you’re investing in your customer base and your community, including your partner ecosystem to deliver more value, create trust, and drive revenue.” 

 

There’s no value you can place on trust, and that’s what the ecosystem brings to the table, that trust. People want to work with providers, vendors, companies, partners, or solution providers they already trust. 

 

Trust is what really matters, not only during the sales process but throughout the partner journey. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vaughn Mordecai 23 min

Do You Know Your Public and Private Ecosystems?


How can we build trust systematically? The answer lies in understanding the ecosystems your buyers are living in and working to build relationships with those that are already influencing them.


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