Ask the Partnership Experts: Step 3: Align with the partner manager

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There's a renaissance going on, and it's called Partnerships. The value partnerships bring to long-term growth and sales can be measured in increased brand awareness and ultimately in increased sales for virtually any company of any size in any industry. 

But we're not talking about quick acquisition scheming with little to no customer retention. This is the good kind of awareness and growth. Warm introductions from people who trust you, your brand, and your product, and that you trust just as much. 

That is why we at Webbula are excited to bring our latest blog series focused on Partnerships, providing a platform for many voices, from PartnerPage, Ometria, Constant Contact, Asana and more, to provide insight into the value partnerships bring to the business.

In the months to come, look for more voices and more thought around the power of partnerships and why businesses should embrace them as our friends and partners cover the topics from the recent article written by the COO of Partnerpage, Stewart Wesley, "How to build a technology partnership". We can't wait to see the value this series will bring to you and your peers.

We welcome any technology partnership expert to fill out the form at the end of the blog post to provide their expertise on how to build a successful technology partnership.

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 Step 1: get your organization ready for partnerships. Read it.

Step 2: Identify partners worth building an integration with (or identify existing high-value integrations). Read it.

 

 

Step 3. Align with the partner manager at your partner's organization on the goals and resources needed for the partnership

  • Fail or delay a partnership as early as possible in the process! Many partner organizations are too busy for a big project or don't have full support from internal teams to make a new integration really successful.
  • "Proper expectation setting and avoiding false promises is key. Be as transparent and upfront as possible about where you can and can't add value. There are too many false promises in partner programs. It pays to avoid them in the long run." - Dan Caldwell, Technology Partnerships Manager at Klaviyo
  • Befriend your partner point of contact. Build rapport, send them gifts, buy them dinner, and understand what they are goaled on. You need to be able to be authentic and honest with them and this requires a strong working relationship and ideally, a friendship.
  • Avoid signing a legal agreement unless you absolutely need it - nothing kills a partnership's momentum like 10 rounds of redlines between legal teams.

 

alispoon

Ali Spoon, Customer Success Lead at PartnerPage.io

I have the privilege of working with some top partner managers who are really efficient at kicking things off with new partners. One common behavior is their ability to proactively communicate what resources are typically involved in the onboarding process, and ask about how their new partner typically goes about starting new partnerships – what teams are involved? Where do they need support? What is a realistic timeline?

 These conversations about resources come after discussions about goals — what is important to their customers? How is their team measured? What does their leadership team care about this quarter? Is the partner manager looking to develop their own career path in a particular way?

 If you consistently ask similar questions and start documenting the answers, you can look into how your ability to tap into partners’ goals and motivations, especially within the first 30 days, impacts the success of these new partnerships in the long run. This sort of analysis is a best practice in the Customer Success world, and it’s definitely applicable to the Partnerships world as well!

 

 

James-Urie1

James Urie, Close

- Build rapport with and support any partner manager you interact with regardless of if you decide to work with one another on a partnership. Having an ecosystem of healthy partnership manager relationships will always pay off somewhere. 

- When you strike a vibe with a fellow partner manager, befriend them, add them on Slack, and share your struggles and victories. Having direct communication with folks doing the same job as you is valuable and fun. Partnerships can sometimes be a very lonely island of misunderstanding from the rest of your team. Make friends with your fellow partnership managers.

 



Bruno-Yoffee

Bruno Yoffe, Channel Partnerships Lead, Asana

Build for scale & repeatability. Developing strong personal relationships is the cornerstone of Partnerships and sometimes templatizing might feel like a departure from the personal aspects of relationship building. However, it's important to establish a middleground that allows us to create efficiencies for both sides. Standardization demonstrates a mature program, establishes a mutual understanding, and allows partner managers to maintain consistency and fairness. Here are some essentials:

  • Create a partner handbook - partner handbooks establish clarity & credibility
  • Develop repeatable workflows that foster co-creation
    • Consider a project/work management tool like Asana for asynchronous collaboration, or a real time collaboration tool like Google Slides/Sheets or Miro
    • Create a space for the partner to reciprocate - ei. If you share a resources project, have a dedicated area for the partner to share their resources
  • Templatize repeatable activities
    • For example: Create a template partnership announcement email to save your partner time and enable them with quick-to-action activities
  • Establish clarity around resources, contacts, and set a touch-base cadence early on
    • Create a simple and easy to access guide for your partners to reference when they have support, product, or marketing questions. If multiple team members support your partners, make it easy for your partner to know who to turn to for what. Align on a cadence to touch base, at minimum for QBRs.

While it's incumbent upon the partner manager to develop meaningful personal relationships, it's equally important for them to protect their and their partner's time. Standardizing "the basics" establishes a critical foundation for alignment and acts as a springboard to a long and meaningful partnership.

 

 


jackwrigley

Jack Wrigley, VP of Partnerships at Webbula

Partner alignment begins with honesty and transparency and quickly moves to answering the question: what can we execute together to make our partnership more valuable to customers? Ask your partner counterpart what their organization needs from a solid partnership and be willing to express what you need in return. Often times this is difficult because companies may not have a full blown partner program developed. In this case, work together to identify mutual goals and focus first on developing an awareness strategy that announces your two companies are working together. 

An immediate hurdle and one that can be easily jumped is awareness. Leverage internal communication channels to announce your partnership such as customer newsletters. External social channels also prove to be a great place to announce a partnership or alliance. Awareness is key to building and sustaining a lasting partnership. Don't simply rely on "word of mouth" nor rely on the partnership manager to bear the burden of spreading the news a partnership has been made. 

Once you have created a plan of action around awareness, make it an evergreen process where your company's growing partnerships are consistently being highlighted. The reason partnerships are so valuable is they typically focus on making business easier for your mutual customer. Don't lose sight of this and constantly remind customers of all your partnerships and the benefits the partnerships provides.

It's ok to crawl before you walk and run. Be mindful of your partner's resources to implement certain strategies. They too may want to do everything but have limited resources to apply to the process. This doesn't necessarily mean they aren't interested but can mean you have to think through what you can achieve together based on the resources available with both companies. 

And lastly, have fun. Building strong partnerships is really all about building strong relationships and friendships. This takes time but the net result is increased value between partners, lasting relationships built on supporting one another's company goals, all while helping customers increase their productivity. And that's worthy of celebrating!

 

 



 

 

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