Being a Partnership professional is one of the most challenging roles in the GTM organization. Not only does it require external enablement for partners to transform partnerships into success, but it also means intensive and constant internal enablement with the entire organization, so the ecosystem becomes the most important part of the revenue stream. Does that sound familiar?
The vast majority of companies are currently looking for sustainable and scalable growth, and the most successful ones understand that this will only be possible by taking the most out of their ecosystem.
To help you have a scalable partner program that will generate ROI, let me guide you through the 10 key elements to check in for this new year.
Let’s get started!
In partnerships, it's very easy to get carried away with folklore such as “this partner is so much fun to work with” or “this partner is brilliant”. These statements are too objective and often don’t align with your business goals.
Our recommendation is that you really study the data from your partner program in relation to your KPIs, and then make a decision from that data about whether you invest or pull back on the partnership. For a revenue-focussed partner team, think about the following:
It seems obvious, but spend some time with your partners before you make any bold decisions. You might be enjoying the results of the partnership on your side, but your partner might not (that’s the power of give/get). There also might be some strategic priorities that you want to launch with your partner—joint-pricing, joint-solutioning, joint-marketing, etc.— that will require budgets and executive approvals.
Use your partner meetings as an opportunity to get the necessary approvals that you require for the year ahead.
Resources don’t just equal the number of partner managers reporting INTO you, it also equals the amount of resource working WITH you in the business e.g. “do I have marketing support for the 8 partner events that I need to run next year?” or “do I have a sufficient number of partners, and TAM across those partners?”.
Try to reverse engineer your targets into manageable chunks and see how achievable each of the chunks is based on your current resources.
Once you’ve done all of that, assess whether you have the resources around you to go and hit those KPIs.
Aligned to the above point on targets, you need to review whether you have the appropriate budgets in place to meet those targets; e.g. hire the additional headcount you will require, invest in the relevant partner events that you need to run, etc. If you don’t have the budget, then can you align with other teams in your org to share budgets and goals?
Align the above point on budgets, particularly if you’re trying to leverage other department’s budgets i.e. Marketing, Sales, Success, etc., then you need to have aligned KPIs to ensure that a dollar spent on partnerships is going to generate enough value vs if they were to spend it within their own partnerships.
Think about the broader company KPIs you can influence, and embed your partner program appropriately.
Join communities such as Partnership Leaders, and spend some time speaking with industry peers—who don’t even need to be in the same ecosystem as you—and find out what they’re planning to do next year:
The best partner people in the world have incredible networks, and they are able to generate masses of value within your networks
We know it’s a very time-consuming process, but at the same time, incredibly valuable. Start to visually plot where each of your partnerships are.
At Reveal, we personally like to plot our partners on a graph with two axes:
Then start to think about how you’ll work with each bucket of partners:
Find the Partner Scorecard template here: https://reveal.co/templates/partner-scorecard.
Dependent on the maturity of your partner program, this will mean different things to different people:
Once you’ve mapped up those processes, see who in the business can help you (do you need marketing support to get MDF budgets, or do you need CSM support to help with platform training and enablement?). Either way, new processes cannot be carried by yourself alone, so you need to bring the right subject matter experts in to help you.
It seems obvious, but it’s surprising how many partner programs are operated with very limited data underpinning them.
As starter for 10, your program should have dashboards which track things like:
As your program gets more mature, you might want to track activities and activity types so you can calculate which of your activities are driving the best ROI (for example…maybe partner events are more effective that AE<>AE intel share calls). You might also want to track % win rates when partners are involved vs when they’re not, and even look at retention metrics too.
There is also a big case to start building out reporting about the value you're driving TO your partners, so you can understand whether there is sufficient reciprocity in the partnership.
This is number 10 on the list because it encompasses all of the previous 9 steps in the checklist. There is no point in creating a partner plan and strategy in a silo, you need to make Partnerships feel like a ‘culture’...not like a ‘department’. You don’t want to get to the end of H1 in 2023 and have your CRO say “what’s our partner plan for this year?”. If you design your partner program in line with the stakeholders around you, you will:
People who fail to bring their leadership along with them on the partnership journey, are the ones that are always fighting an uphill battle to prove ROI and get the resources they need to scale.
Bring your leadership team along with you, and watch your partner program flourish.
Partnerships and ecosystems are becoming the biggest game-changing revenue channel. Now it’s your turn to write the next chapter of your Go-To-Market strategy, and prove to your teams and your C-level the potential that Nearbound has.
This Masterclass is for all Partnership professionals who are ready to make their account mapping practices generate tangible ROI. Learn how to (finally) start producing the revenue that partnerships mapped the right way can produce.