If you’re entering the world of partner programs, you better be well versed in the ins and outs of partnering. Including the typical partnership lifecycle.
You can also look at these 7 stages and a way to organize how to build a high-impact program in 7 steps:
Build a pipeline
Reporting and reviews
Stage 1: Identify partners
To build out your program, start with partner recruitment. Take some time to do the research to get a strong "dance card" of people to meet and connect with.
Do your research!
I’ve always emphasized that identifying the right partners should start with a deep understanding of your customers. For example you can take a look at your average customers’ tech stack, or listen to which integrations they are constantly requesting. There are a few ways to get that information, including:
Use the Reveal Directory to connect with companies already using Reveal to grow their partnerships. Additionally, get suggested partners based on your CRM overlaps.
This initial research should give you a decent list of potential partners. From there you can go further and evaluate them on other important factors.
Depending on your partner program goals, you should have a good idea of the right profile you’re looking for. This could be by industry, technology alignment, brand mission alignment. And an important one:
Minimum number of customer overlaps. How many of their customers or prospects match yours.
(Note: This is where Reveal comes in handy to give you quick insight into customer overlaps to assess partnership potential.)
Stage 2: Present program
Go on the roadshow to introduce yourself and your company to these shortlisted partners. This is the moment to get your strategic partnership proposal ready.
Present your partner pitch deck
How do you get a partner interested to collaborate? One of many important factors is a partner pitch deck. The objective of this deck is to show prospective partners:
Your company (and notable achievements)
Your product value proposition
Why join the partner program - and why now is the right time
What makes you different
Support and resources provided
What’s in it for them
Use these introduction meetings also as an opportunity to understand their business: What are the goals of their company? What are the goals for their team and individuals? How do they define and measure success? And importantly, how do their goals connect to mine?
Send the Partnership Agreement contract
If they meet your criteria and you have the answers to these all-important questions, it’s likely the right time to send across the Partnership Agreement.
Work with your Legal team to create your standard Agreement template. But you don’t need to spend too much time here trying to craft the perfect document. Instead here’s a tip to ensure there is less friction in the process:
You’ve both signed the agreement, now the partner onboarding begins.
Set up a kick-off meeting for both your teams to get acquainted, and agree on the right balance and cadence for your ongoing communications.
What’s the best frequency for meetings? Weekly, monthly, fortnightly?
What channels do you need to keep in touch? Is email enough or do you need a Slack Connect channel?
There are also various different ways to manage partnerships but here are two useful frameworks / tools that have served me well in my experience:
Joint Success Plan (or JSP)
Joint Success Plan
The idea of a joint success plan comes from the world of Customer Success - and it’s a simple but powerful tool designed to help solution providers work hand-in-hand with their customers to drive alignment and establish shared ownership over goals and activities.
This could also be a useful tool for managing Partnerships. The joint success plan with a partner helps to outline the objectives, desired business outcomes, milestones, and key owners within the partnership.
Once you have the joint success plan that lays out how you will both align and navigate through the partnership, you can also use a workstream tracker to manage and track the progress of your joint activities. You can also treat this as an onboarding checklist to ensure your partner is going through key steps in the early stages of the partnership together such as partner enablement on your product.
Stage 4: Account mapping
What is Account Mapping?
Account Mapping is the cornerstone of partner relationships. For a partnership to generate ROI, you and your partner need to identify opportunities to help each other win. Through common prospects or customers.
To do this both companies share their list of accounts with the other. Every overlap is a revenue opportunity.
Benefits of Account Mapping
Account Mapping enables you to understand how to effectively work with your partner. By matching accounts, shortlist accounts to collaborate on. Deal sizes are likely to increase by 45% when selling to the customer of a partner.
The challenge with spreadsheets is that these lists are typically exported from the CRM, which can be cumbersome.
Additionally, the same company could be named differently in the partner’s CRM, making this matching difficult—not to mention data privacy—but the new age of partnerships demands a more secure and efficient way to identify overlaps.
When you’re ready to stop doing your Account Mapping manually and save a heap of time, you can try a free account mapping tool like Reveal to streamline the process and mitigate security risks (by being GDPR compliant and SOC II certified). Not to mention you have controls to customize what information you share, and with which partner.
Need to make your case for an Account Mapping tool?
Not only is manually compiling this information just generally time-consuming and painful, but emailing a spreadsheet or CSV file to a with a partner filled with your customer data is a security breach just waiting to happen.
Additionally there is a large margin for error when trying to manually match accounts, never mind the custom formulas required or data de-duping to even begin to match up your datasets. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to work with partners, not troubleshoot VLookups.
Wouldn’t it be better to repurpose that time to strengthen your partner relationships and act on opportunities instead? For reference, my typical time spent to match account data with a single partner when I don’t use an account mapping solution Reveal can be as high 20 total hours of work on a typical dataset of 500-1K accounts depending on how many fields you have to map, and how much work is required to matchup the data.
Assessing Partnership Potential
Account Mapping can also be done earlier in the lifecycle when you’re identifying partners at Stage 1. It can be used as part of your criteria for assessing partnership potential (ie. need to have at least X% of account overlaps or shared Users) and to prioritize partners who are most likely to help you make strategic impacts with shared customers.
For example, you could use Partnerships Overviews from Reveal to see customer overlap data at a glance before you enter into a managed or formal partnership so that you can feel confident that the partnership is being built on validated data on target market potential—not gut feel.