Business development deals are notoriously time-consuming and difficult to scale. Teams tend to hone in on a single large scale, highly customized negotiation at a time, limiting their ability to ramp up digital deals with midsize and smaller partners — especially when payout is performance-based.
This approach seems to be cost-effective, companies taking such a manual approach to business development leave money on the table. By utilizing an affiliate marketing model, businesses can create scalable strategies and capture more business development and partnership opportunities without reinventing the wheel each time.
It is a simple and smooth transition from traditional business development to affiliate-inspired models. In both, you’re creating performance-based, mutually beneficial partnerships, but the latter provides better tracking, payment reporting, and attribution.
ALIGNMENTS BETWEEN THE AFFILIATE MARKETING MODEL AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Consider this example: A business development or partner specialist at an online printing company does a contract-based deal with a popular sporting store to place a custom coupon in its catalog. When the coupon campaign ends, the printing company creates a manual report based on how many customers redeemed the promotion.
Weeks later, the sporting store sends an invoice to the online printing company, which then pays by check a month later. At the year’s end, the online sporting store must send the printing company a 1099 tax form for its earnings.
This is a common setup that actually aligns closely with affiliate marketing; the partner (sporting store) earns money based on how many people it drives to a particular product or promotion.
A main difference is that traditional business development relies on a manual process in which representatives hand-manage every aspect of a deal. Because of this, business development teams typically can only focus on large scale partners.
They simply don’t have the resources or bandwidth to manage more than that. They might know an affiliate program could handle many of these functions, but they don’t want to pay large performance fees to a network — especially for deals they originated.
BENEFITS OF UTILIZING THE AFFILIATE MARKETING MODEL FOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Affiliate technology automates the contracting, performance tracking, and data capturing processes. This framework also streamlines the communications processes for businesses, allowing them to cultivate more brand-aligned relationships.
Many companies already incorporate affiliate-model elements into their partnerships, however, they haven’t necessarily integrated them into their business development and partner strategies yet. But as businesses seek greater flexibility in their partnership terms, they’ll increasingly adopt affiliate tactics.
Using an affiliate marketing automation platform frees up the business development team and allows them to focus on creating valuable new partnerships rather than having to manage and track what they currently have. This approach also serves as a motivator for business development partners, as they can see how they are doing in real time.
Of course, not all elements can be automated. The process will still require people to manage the partnership program, recruit and coach new partners, and offer resources to improve affiliates’ performance.
IMPLEMENT THE 80:20 RULE
By structuring your partnership program with an affiliate framework you’re allowing the business development team to focus on the biggest partners and the customization they require.
Simultaneously, smaller and midsize partners can be engaged through scalable, automated onboarding and relationship management systems. It’s the Pareto Principle in practice, with 80 percent of results coming from 20 percent of input.
In business development terms, this means 80 percent of sales are generated by 20 percent of clients. The affiliate framework allows you to cater to that top 20 percent while maintaining momentum with the other 80.
If you’re like most leaders, you’re constantly looking for ways to add performance-based partners without having to recreate the wheel each time. Which parts of your business development strategy might benefit from more automation and scale?