The Critical Role Partnerships Play When Scaling Fintechs

Blog written by Greg Watts, CEO at Findr

Alongside raising investment, securing the right partnerships is critical for business survival.

Indeed, in a recent research report from PwC, over 75% of CEOs rated partnerships as ‘important’ or ‘critical’ to their success.

Yet with many partnerships taking months if not years to come to fruition, it’s no wonder that so many businesses fail – and waste considerable resources – in the process.

So why do so many fintechs struggle with what we call the partnership problem?

Here are some reasons:

  • They haven’t identified the right target partners;
  • Their approach is too generic;
  • They haven’t spent sufficient time identifying key stakeholders;
  • Their offering and content doesn’t resonate with target partners;
  • They don’t spend enough time or resources in the right places generating awareness.

In this article for Fintech Scotland, we’ll explore why businesses struggle with the Partnership Problem and provide tools and tips to enhance your approach and accelerate your efforts.


Get focused

In theory, partnership development is a straightforward process.

However, many businesses often fail at the first hurdle – which is to have a razor-sharp focus on targets.

For example, it’s quite common to hear that a fintech wants to create partnerships with ‘all’ retailers or banks in a particular market, then expect their sales teams to hit the phones and secure meetings.

However, with finite resources, that approach often misses the mark.

Fintechs – and indeed, all businesses – need clear partnership criteria.

The criteria for each business will vary, but some questions to consider may include:

  • Which verticals, sectors or categories do you want to focus on? Within those, what are the priorities and why?
  • What are the characteristics of your target partners? For example, are they high frequency retailers such as coffee chains or do they boast high transaction values, such as luxury brands?
  • How easily can you partner with them? For example, a Tier 1 retailer such as BP or Asda is likely to take more time to partner with than a smaller coffee chain. Given how important time to market is – it can often take months if not years to partner with large businesses – targeting smaller partners initially to create case studies that demonstrate the value of your proposition may be a more efficient strategy.

Once you’ve evaluated your target partners, assign weightings to provide focus on where to spend your time and resources.


Sharpen your door opening approach by creating buyer personas

How often have you received a cold, un-researched introductory note on LinkedIn or via email?

It’s remarkable that so many businesses don’t tailor their approaches, then wonder why they don’t receive a response.

In fact, if you haven’t met someone before, you have less than a 3% chance of securing a meeting with them (unless you’re on Findr of course - where we average 27%)

It’s imperative you know as much as you can about your target partners before you approach them – or any resources used to try and engage them will simply be wasted.

To maximise your chances of getting a meeting with a target partner, you need to make assumptions about what they may be looking for to help you tailor your approach.

To do this, it helps to develop buyer personas from which you can create content that makes them want to engage with you.

As you create the personas, points to consider are:

  • What problems do you fix?
  • What benefits do you offer? How do these compare to other players or competitors?
  • Why should they engage with you?
  • What channels do they engage with? How can you reach them?
  • Which events or forums do they attend?
  • Who – if anyone – do they currently partner with? And, critically, why would you be a better partner?

Cluster them to create segments with common challenges and issues you can solve.

Ultimately, you need to articulate why they should engage with you.

Once the personas have been created, you can focus on your content plan, encompassing your website, social media feeds, thought leadership and other marketing efforts.


Make it a team effort

Too frequently, partnership development and lead generation are viewed as the sales team’s responsibility.

Yes, the role of a salesperson is to sell – however, he or she must have the full support of the business behind them to generate leads. Without that, the effort is likely to fail.

At Findr, we believe that the entire organisation should be involved in generating business and creating partnerships – albeit in different ways – and that any efforts not focused on growing the business should be questioned.

Thinking of it in these terms can help galvanise and focus your resources.


Bringing it all together

Creating partnerships sounds easy. However, without the right planning and focus, the results may be disappointing.

Being ruthlessly clear on who you’re targeting and why they should engage with you – and then creating content that resonates – is the most effective approach to creating long term, valuable partnerships.

Photo by Savvas Stavrinos: