Alex's Tech Thoughts

Selectively Partnering vs. Partnering With Everyone

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I’ve always been internally conflicted about one aspect of partnerships. That conflict is around whether to selectively partner or try to partner with whomever wants to partner with my company.

In the past, I’ve mostly worked on product partnerships (i.e. an API). With product partnerships you typically want any and every company to integrate your API. I’ve used the Launch Partner Strategy (i.e. launching a new product or feature with multiple companies and use cases) many times with success (and also with failure). But now that I’m running SocialRank, which is more of sales than it is BD, selectively partnering is much more attractive.

I’ve thought a lot about the difference and here is what I think the pros and cons are of each approach.

Selectively Partnering

Pros

- The right big-name partners can change the game for you overnight

- Get to focus more, less trying to manage multiple partners

- Creates intrigue and demand by being selective

Cons

- Less use cases to point to when trying to get more companies onboard

- Miss out on small-looking companies that can be really big

Partnering With Everyone

Pros

- Tons of use cases to show off

- Finding a partner that can only be described as a diamond in the rough (happened time and time again at Aviary)

- Optics look good (lots of interest)

Cons

- It is a quantity over quality play

- Usually (but not always) takes longer to close bigger deals

- Lots and lots of work

Conclusion

There is no “right” way to approach selectively partnering vs. partnering with everyone. It is very situational. I think if you have a decent sized BD team and have an API (as I did at Aviary and Dwolla) you can go big and small (partnering with everyone). But now that my partnerships team is small at SocialRank, being selective is the way to go.

What do you think about this topic?

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Here is my latest Forbes piece: http://onforb.es/13I7xUX.

Let me know your thoughts!

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