Navigating Partnerships: A Consultant's Roadmap to Success with Platform Providers
Owning your own business means that you get to determine the different sources of income that you will bring in and how you will serve clients. There are many ways to diversify your income, and partnerships established with platforms could be a way to gain not just additional revenue but also keep updated with the newest technology.
At the end of October, the Community Consultants Collective met to discuss community platforms. Jenny Weigle shared her experience with several platform partners and gave tips on reaching out to a platform as a consultant.
Jenny works with enterprise companies and helps them plan for growth. She said the best way to guide a client when considering platforms is first to outline the features and functions the client needs to design the community. “When working with a client on the first launch, we plan strategically before platform review and selection,” Jenny said.
Here are a few tips from Jenny:
Approach the client with questions about their needs before recommending a platform.
Some clients want custom features unavailable on many community platforms, so Jenny recommends Khoros, which has customization options for large companies.
Jenny doesn’t work with clients who want to skip the strategy and prefers to help them align their needs to the platform, but the client makes the final call.
Platform Partnership Programs
Several CCC members shared that they have built relationships with what they consider “the top three or five” platforms. A consultant with several partnerships can guide the client in platform selection and assure them that the services they are promised will live up to their expectations.
Todd Nilson, CCC Board Member, shared that he’s had some success with platform partners but shares that clarifying the expectations for both the platform and the consultant is essential. The reason for this is that a consultant may bring customers to the forum, and the platform may bring clients to the consultant - but either way, the expectations should be clear that the consultant isn’t a lead generator for the platform. “Community platforms understand that. a consultant isn’t going to send a specific amount of leads, and neither is the platform,” Todd said.
A few tips from additional members of the CCC are listed below:
Kelly said that she only partners with platforms she has experience with and recommends that consultants refrain from jumping to connect with too many platforms but only the platforms they plan to work with or refer clients toward. “If you are going to be an affiliate, share why,” Kelly said.
Deb shared that a consultant must promote the kinds of products and services that they believe in, use, or feel that solution is helpful for others. Unlike influencer marketing, where creators get paid to promote sponsored products, consultants can separate themselves from this by having integrity in their partnership choices.
So, how much does a consultant get from a platform for a referral? It depends. The way platforms are designing affiliates, partnerships, and programs is different for each vendor. It’s essential to review the media that you or your clients use and then reach out to the platform or go to their website to see what they offer regarding referrals.
While receiving a 10-20 percent commission for a referral for enterprise companies is common practice, smaller platforms mainly focus on affiliate programs. If you are interested in partnering with a platform but don’t see that they have a program set up, you can approach them with other ideas. Sometimes, consultants can get access to an email list of attendees after speaking at a conference. Other opportunities include speaking to their customers and giving them a sense of what it’s like working with you.
Click here to view the most updated list of community platforms.
November Meetup: Consultant Tech Tools
With all the technology available, it can be difficult for consultants to identify the best tech tools and systems for their business. When new consultants are starting, the typical scenario is to provide hourly consulting, which can be billed in many different ways.
During the November 1st meeting, a representative from Expert Session will demo their new product and explain how consultants can maximize their time with this tool. A community consultant, Deb Schell, recently started using Expert Session to host strategy sessions.
The benefits she lists are the following:
Fast and easy profile setup.
Easily connect to a bank account for payments.
Reviews right on the expert page for potential clients to view.
A high-quality video platform that allows clients to purchase less than one hour if needed and has flexible options.
What tech tools do you use to deliver your services or products?
We'd love to hear them!
Click here to RSVP for the Nov. 1st meetup!