The difference between referral partners vs strategic partners

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I’ve had a lot of great conversations lately around the difference between referral partners vs strategic partners – and this needs to be said…
They 👏 are 👏 not 👏 the 👏 same!

Regardless, these two are often (mistakenly) used interchangeably. Which leads to a lot of disappointment, misunderstandings and an overall lack of both strategy and referrals.

If you mix these two up, you basically render both useless.

Here are some key differences to keep in mind:

Referral Partner:
💰 Cut and dry monetary reward – i.e. 10% of every sale you refer
💰Low-commitment level – you refer on your own terms, your involvement ends there
💰No involvement in marketing, shared resources, network. You have your business, they have theirs.
💰Having lots of referral partners is important to make this work — occasionally you’ll have a few highly motivated referral partners, but usually wide not deep works here

Strategic Partner:
💰 The working arrangement is more substantial and varies: Strategic partners collaborate on anything from white-labeling, to creating custom packages, to integrating key services on each other’s websites etc. You have a similar customer base and it makes sense to partner to sell together on certain initiatives
💰 Higher-commitment level: You’re actively involved in creating and marketing shared services and products to a joint network.
💰Community-based marketing: This means there are shared goals, expectations, and deliverables that each party must complete. Quarterly goals for shared projects (and how to meet those goals) are planned and work shared
💰Deep not wide: Fewer relationships, but with high dedication. Measured in quarterly returns

Effective strategic partners are hands down one of the most powerful ways to exponentially grow your business, but since they are highly misunderstood as referral partnerships, they are severely under-executed, which means they don’t become high-priority for a growing startup.

Keep both referral partners and strategic partners in their proper lanes (with correct usage and expectations) and watch how you grow!

Looking for a good strategic partner to collab with for Q3? Leave a comment below — tell us what you do, and who you’re looking for, and I’ll play strategic partner matchmaker…

Which in all honesty is the only “matchmaking” I’m good at. 😂

#business #startups #startupstrategies #pr #sales #founders

P.S. Download our free guide Startup Superstar HERE