The Partner Experience Weekly: Account Mapping - 9-Box Strategic Plan

The Partner Experience Weekly: Account Mapping - 9-Box Strategic Plan

Aaron Howerton 11 min

Today I’m sharing ideas on how to approach each of the 9 core matrices (i.e. boxes) for account mapping solutions. I believe that we will see full-time dedicated roles to account mapping strategy in the coming months as companies start to really understand and leverage the value of this data. First, however, I need to get this off my chest...


DON’T IMPORT THE DATA.

Is it just me or is that eye contact intense?


*Cough*... sorry, what was I saying?


Oh yes… seriously. Do not import the data back to your CRM just yet. There may be a time and a place for that, but there are things you need to know about account mapping systems before you take this step.


I can’t say for sure but I imagine that most vendors won’t start with those warnings because integrations breed ‘stickiness’ and reduce churn and, therefore, are part of their implementation plans.


I don’t care if you’re working on Crossbeam, Reveal, PartnerTap, PartnerBase or some other platform I’ve not yet heard of yet. If you start by piping data back to the CRM without first developing and prioritizing a strategy for each of the 9 core matrices you are already leaving value on the table (and likely paying for it, too). You’ll wind up with technical debt around CRM integration, widget setup, and security.


If you’ve somehow managed to build some custom populations you may also get what appear to be duplicates in your data. Example: one shared customer looks like a Customer-to-Customer overlap in the CRM but is actually part of two populations, which is possibly not segmented well in the overall count on the Widget or in general reporting. But… I digress….


On to the topic at hand - What do you do?!


9-Box Strategy

Let’s pretend for a moment that you haven’t considered the larger implications of adopting Account Mapping tools. It certainly makes my article more relevant and we all know that’s what I’m here for. Just call me Toby Keith...


Nevermind... nope.... nooooooot Toby Keith....


Account Mapping Is a strategic tool that impacts the entire organization

Every segment of the core matrix of “Prospects - Customers - Opportunities” represents a different, unique strategy for GTM rhythms within your company with respective expectations of teams impacted by each. There are a total of nine segments, hence the name ’9-Box Strategy.’ I know.... super original.


Each perspective below is taken from the position of YOUR company - what YOU can do to improve potential success. If you and your partner both adopt these game plans you’ll have a collaborative strategy that everyone on both sides can understand and get behind. Imagine if you sat down across from someone with a strategic plan that mirrored your own from the start... *sigh*


Well... I... Um... yeah... that’d be great.


Foundational Assumptions

We have to start by getting on the same page. Ready?


  • You’ve got clarity around your ICP and have already limited the appropriate populations for that focus (Prospects and Opportunities).
  • Dumping thousands upon thousands of new data records into your CRM will not magically open a floodgate of revenue. Hence the warning at the outset.
  • Account Mapping is a GTM strategic tool for high-value partnerships. We’re not necessarily doing this for everyone at the outset of the effort.
  • Account Mapping, like partnerships, is a cross-organizational effort. Nearly every org in the company has a role to play in successful efforts across the core 9 matrices.
  • You’ve already cleared boundaries with legal around what you can and can’t do with prospect and customer data, specifically around partner engagement, co-marketing, co-selling, etc.
  • You’re sharing your definitions and filters of the core objects with every partner to ensure alignment. What makes a customer, prospect, or opportunity show up? What makes them move from one to another?
  • You’re defining key metrics for your partners as you sign them up. This could include things like stage definitions for your sales process, ideal customer profile, and field definitions for things like ‘Signed Date’ and ‘Active Date.’ These things can mean and imply different things at different companies so it’s good to get clarity.
  • We are not opening Slack channels for EVERY partner that arrives. Don’t trust me alone on this one, as I got affirmation from Chris Lavoie at Supernode, circa 2022. I believe he said, "Don’t create a Slack channel for every partner in your book" or something to that effect...


“Customer to” Overlap: General Guidelines

  • Monthly showcase for CSMs on existing, new and upcoming partner tech
  • SPIFF programs for referral/introduction generation that leads to new confirmed partner business
  • Advanced training options for CSMs as professional growth opportunities with internal rewards for achievements
  • Partner Conference invites and stage time for select CSMs that reach ‘Champion’ status.
  • Partners should know how to identify a ‘new’ customer in the overlap model and understand when is an appropriate time to reach out. Guide them in this or you may end up with Partners pinging Customers based on new overlaps popping up due to bad filters or poor data and creating a headache.


Customer-to-Prospect:

  • Review key partnerships and initiate in-house customer campaigns to help drive awareness for your partners
  • Include a custom UTM from your partners to track activity for direct referrals tied to those campaigns
  • Train the internal CSMs on the program to support inbound referral generation (add a SPIFF if you feel so inclined - CSMs don’t often get the same perks as Sales roles and I have feelings about this).
  • Build communication channels and rules of engagement for high-value partners to reach out when looking for CSM engagement around specific deals.


You get the idea - just set standards and make sure everyone knows!


Customer-to-Customer

Integration Partners

  • Ask product for activation details on any key integration partners (if they don’t have it, get prioritization on the development and standardization of this effort for every integration!)
  • Host monthly integration spotlights for key partners with open invites for Customers - record and publish via newsletters/campaigns
  • Customer showcase for customers clearly leveraging the dual value
  • Mandatory activation campaigns for all new Integrations when they go live!


General Plans

  • Sponsor use-case development for high-value partners - go on-site and cover expenses where feasible to drive engagement
  • Include contract language, where possible, to ease the burden of cross-company collaboration around customer success
  • Joint marketing spotlights on success stories where relevant
  • Partner highlights on the value of their tech in month webinars
  • Track mutual satisfaction ratings
  • Plan quarterly CSM to CSM reviews for cross-company collaboration on customer needs (with approval, see above)
  • Nuanced to Explicit descriptions of partner value based on legal approval
  • Collaborative renewal plans and touch-points to reduce churn


Customer-to-Opportunity

  • Develop CSM outreach plan to build a ‘general map’ of customer needs around key partner tech
  • Campaigns driving specific use case value into partner open opportunities with custom UTM for landing pages/use cases/etc
  • Tie activity from UTMs back to in-house campaign reports to help demonstrate influence for Partners
  • Showcases for Customer already successful with Partner Opportunity


“Opportunity to” Overlap: General Guidelines

  • AE’s should be trained in Partner Engagement and have easy visibility of key partnerships, benefits, internal owners, and connection paths.
  • Prove the financial benefit to your team: Prep stats (internal and market) on the impact of partnerships for revenue (more ops, higher ops, closing faster, staying longer, etc.)
  • Push for pay parity - don’t punish direct when a partner gets involved.
  • Schedule regular showcases for partners to come train the team - add swag, spiffs, whatever you can to drive attention and attendance. Build better relationships and awareness by pushing your partner into the spotlight.


Opportunity-to-Prospect

  • Include questions around tech stack that focus on partner areas to gain insight into where they are headed
  • Drive customer centric conversations and discovery - make sure it’s really about the customer getting value. Most can smell your bullshit a mile away.
  • Ask the customer if they are open to introductions to complementary technology that... overlaps... with your offering (heh heh... see what I did there?). Make those introductions.
  • Streamline this feedback into your partner touch-points to help them continually refine their messaging and approach


Opportunity-to-Opportunity

  • Clear boundaries with Legal about what you can and can’t do with customer data.
  • Cooooooo-selling - reach out for rules of engagement with ideas on:
  • Initial contact
  • Co-marketing
  • Joint Demos
  • Sales Alignment
  • Schedule Opportunity review between AE’s and PMs


Opportunity-to-Customer

  • Push for clear expectations with Partners on the parameters of engagement
  • Provide them with the materials/campaign details to help fuel engagement
  • Build referral funnels to proactive credit Partners that jump in to support your selling efforts
  • Align sales plans with upcoming renewals to drive co-selling and promotions


“Prospect to” Overlap: General Guidelines

  • Review top ICP prospects and build targeted campaigns around complementary technology
  • Clarify your top ICP prospects with your top 5 target partners
  • Share your campaign materials - build a set that’s branded for Partner utilization
  • Enable your BDRs with Partner content, access to campaign materials, awareness of targets, etc.
  • Add an Overlap Spiff to drive higher value meetings = additional bonus for accounts with higher overlap counts or target partner overlaps


Prospect-to-Prospect

  • Joint marketing campaigns and Partner Spotlight Campaigns
  • Consider working with an experienced and proven third-party company like AmpFactor to drive shared campaigns that produce results while reducing internal lift and getting critical training for your team
  • Build a path for co-selling and get key teams aligned on joint demos, hand-offs, and mutual support
  • Adopt the same customer-first mindset to drive awareness, understanding, and help partners win


Prospect-to-Opportunity

  • Deal verification according to rules of engagement - is there a chance to work together, i.e.’How can WE help YOU close this deal?’
  • Closing Support - drop support for partner in outbound efforts for calls/emails/campaigns targeting that ICP group
  • Ask for minimum deal status standards for engagement, i.e. what makes a real ’Opportunity’ for your company? Examples may include Stage 2 or higher, 1 meeting set, etc.


Prospect-to-Customer

  • Ask for Rules of Engagement for requesting an introduction
  • Provide materials to Partner for co-branded campaigns based on their brand guidelines, which you may need to ask for
  • Get clearance for using Partnership in outbound efforts
  • Provide support for why you’re a ‘trusted partner’ which could be things like: Number of service deliveries completed on their tech; Number of shared customers via integrations; Use case documentation on successful integration impact; really, anything that is data supporting your comment


Fine.. some technical notes…

I really try to break these things down and limit my content sometimes but I really enjoy doing it. So… here’s a quick list of technical considerations for Account Mapping solutions.


  • Faux-Duplication: As mentioned above, custom populations can sometimes appear to be duplicates within counts and reporting within the CRM. They are matches from different populations, therefore not technically duplicates, but good to be aware of.
  • Limit Imports: Consider only importing data from the partners and populations that offer the most value for widget/internal visibility (i.e. not all partners and no customer overlap imports).
  • Widgets and Details: Widgets offer some unique functionality and visibility but are not the ‘end-all-be-all’ solution just yet. I’ve previously written about Spekit as a strong solution for enhancing Partner visibility in tandem with a widget for this reason.
  • Security: For any data, you import to the CRM you’ll want to define security around who can see it. This might be things like who can access the overlapping object, who should the widget, perhaps field level visibility on the widget, and who has access to the ‘See in Platform’ button. You should do this as a part of the go-live.
  • Attribution: Some solutions are positioning themselves toward helping with attribution and/or influence ratings. This will generally require your sales team to leave the CRM to disposition conversations in their system. This feels like a big ask in today’s system-indulgent world, and I would keep my expectations low for general adoption.
  • Limit Access: This is a strategic tool and every system has its own little quirks of administration (typical of SaaS). Be somewhat critical of who gets to get in and play around. Definitely limit the number of Admins behind your Partner Ops team or your primary system admin as needed.
Aaron Howerton 11 min

The Partner Experience Weekly: Account Mapping - 9-Box Strategic Plan


Here's how to approach each of the 9 core matrices (i.e. boxes) for account mapping solutions.


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