You have made what Jay Mcbain, Vince Menzione, and Mike Nevin consider to be the wise decision to launch a partnership program. What do you do now? Well, the answer is not so cut-and-dry — it will vary based on your business, the partnership, and the goals. To get clarity so that you can get the most revenue out of your ecosystem, here are a few questions you should know the answer to before launching your program.
The goal for all B2B companies is to drive more revenue. But, if we get a bit more granular, the methods to do that is not always the same. Does your company need a larger salesforce? Do you want to expand into a new market? Do you want to increase brand awareness? When you decide what type of partnership program to have, it should directly correspond to the goals of your company. Without knowing your goals, you can't develop the right program.
Different types of partnerships require different levels of engagement and will yield different results. If you've done the reading on our blog, you should be familiar with the different types of partnerships, but here's are two snippets:
In a partnership program that is just getting its legs, it is vital to keep in mind that this department will evolve. Because of its inevitable evolution, partnerships should initially be driven by the C-level who directly corresponds with the goals of the program. Typically, this grows as the partnership program matures. The evolution of who to report to can often look something like this:
Even if it your company doesn't follow this progression, the goals of the company should ultimately determine where the program and the Partnership Manager report.
The deliverables established should be taken into account. If they are in sales and the pipeline, which they often are, it behooves the department to report to the CRO as a part of the sales department. Additionally, the metrics that Partnerships Managers use will be telling of where their department belongs. Often the metrics and KPIs of partnerships are the same if not very similar to that of their account executives.
Now that you've got a clear goal for your partnership, you need to figure out how you plan to get there. Depending on your business and the type of partnerships you have, your strategy will vary. But, there is one rule that goes for all partnership programs: have the right tools. You'll want to know your CRM like the back of your hand (where did that freckle come from?), and you'll need your tech stack to be composed of tools that collaborate well with it. To get the most out of your ecosystem, use an account mapping tool that works with your CRM but also the CRM of your partners. (Try a free and SOC 2 certified tool like Reveal.) Depending on the goals of your program, you also may want a Partner Relationship Manager (PRM). With a PRM, you can simplify your onboarding process with your partners, ensure that all "better together" content is available in one place, and pay affiliate commissions.
The goals you have for your partnership program will be reflective of the goals of your company and the stage of your program. The key here is to be realistic, transparent, and synchronized.
By realistic, make a clear timeline. What are your goals for 6, 12, 18, and 24 months? Partnerships take time to create and take even more time to start generating ROI. Ensure that your C-level and all related stakeholders are on the same page about your goals, timelines, and the program's progress. Being as transparent as possible will only create more alliances internally to ensure the program has the resources it needs to succeed.
We just touched on it a bit, but the key to the longevity of your partnerships will be how well you can maintain your relationships. Do you have the resources you need to bring value to the table? Further, you'll want to make sure that you're investing in the right relationships. Using an account mapping tool, like Reveal, that measures your partner's influence on your accounts is a great way to do that, which circles back to your tech stack. With a tool like this, you can present positive progress reports to your C-suite and stakeholders. Be transparent about where you stand with your goals and how the partnership program contributes to the company's growth.
Continuously evaluate your partnerships and figure out what is working and what is not. Some partners may be the best for co-selling and co-marketing; others may be the key to the future of your integrations (Reveal shows you that too).
Learn from the most notable leaders in partnerships and alliances. For example learn how to leverage your ecosystem from Jay Mcbain, how to plan your partner program with Mike Brigman, and what to include in your KPIs with Elliott Smith.