Partnership Success Checklist: How to Start the Year Strong

Partnership Success Checklist: How to Start the Year Strong

Daniel Lancioni 10 min

Why do you need a partnership checklist?

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!


1. Look at your data

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: 


  • How many accounts have you had intel share calls/meetings with your partner?
  • How many of those intel share calls/meetings turned into pipeline (in both directions)?
  • How much of that pipeline was qualified?
  • How much of that qualified pipeline turned into closed/won business?
  • How much of that closed/won business is still a client today? 


You can have this overlap overview for free by connecting with partners on Reveal.


2. Meet your partners. Set expectations

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 solutions, 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.


3. Evaluate targets vs. resources

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. 


For example:


  • $1,000,000 of closed/won revenue in FY 2023
  • = 10 pieces of closed/won business (based on $100k average ACV)
  • = 30 qualified opportunities (based on 3:1 qualified opp:closed/won ratio)
  • = 60 leads (based on 2:1 lead:qualiftied opp ratio)
  • = 180 partner meetings (based on partner meeting->leads ratio)


Once you’ve done all of that, assess whether you have the resources around you to go and hit those KPIs.


4. Review budgets for next year

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?


5. Create shared goals and KPIs

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. 


  • Is your Marketing team targeted on the number of MQLs next year? If so…can you help them drive high-quality leads through co-marketing events with partners?
  • Is your Success team targeted on churn rate next year? If so…can you work with your Customer Success leadership team to fill product and experience gaps, provide better CSAT scores and reduce churn?
  • Is your Sales team targeted on closed/won revenue next year? If so…can you work with them to get invested in joint-prospecting days and allocate resources to co-selling motions?


Think about the broader company KPIs you can influence, and embed your partner program appropriately. 


6. Share best practices with your industry peers

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: 


  • What are the main challenges they’re looking to overcome? 
  • What successes have they seen in 2022, that you could copy/paste and bring into 2023?
  • What successes have you had that you can share with them? 


The best partner people in the world have incredible networks, and they are able to generate masses of value within your networks


7. Score your partners

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:


  1. X-axis: Willingness to partner (how proactive, open and easy is this partner to work with), score low to high
  2. Y-axis: Potential value (how much potential value,e.g. Revenue, can be generated from this partnership based on the current account overlaps), score low to high


Then start to think about how you’ll work with each bucket of partners: 


  • High value + High willingness to partner → build deeper partnerships e.g. custom pricing, customer integrations, custom sales playbooks, etc
  • High value + Low willingness to partner → build a deeper relationship e.g. executive mapping, work out where you can GIVE before you RECEIVE, work out where you can add value to their install base
  • Low value + High willingness to partner → how can you make your partner program as ‘programmatic’ as possible, so the partner can get the assets and GTM opportunities that they need without using up internal bandwidth.
  • Low value + Low willingness to partner → perhaps cut your losses, and spend the won back time + resources on recruiting new partners.



Find the Partner Scorecard template here: https://reveal.co/templates/partner-scorecard.‍


8. Map out the new processes that you need to succeed

Dependent on the maturity of your partner program, this will mean different things to different people: 


  1. Brand new program (<100 employee company): What are the processes that need to be in place to ensure you recruit and onboard your partners in an effective and value-added manner?
  2. Mid-sized program (100-1,000 employee company): How do you create better manual tracking, manual enablement, manual co-marketing initiatives, and more, to ensure there is accountability behind your program? 
  3. Large-sized program (1000+ employee company): How do you create a more automated and programmatic partner program? so that you can ensure that your partners receive a high level of PX (partner experience) as you scale from 10s of partners, to 100s, to 1000s.


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.



9. Get your data and dashboards ready

It seems obvious, but it’s surprising how many partner programs are operated with very limited data underpinning them. 


As a starter for 10, your program should have dashboards that track things like:


  1. Sourced Pipeline from partners (by quarter)
  2. Influenced Pipeline from partners (by quarter)
  3. Sourced Closed/Won revenue from Partners (by quarter)
  4. Influenced Closed/Won revenue from Partners (by quarter)


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 than 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.


10. Get Executive Buy-in

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:


  1. Have a partner program that meets the needs and expectations of your whole business
  2. Have clear milestones in place, which give everyone a full view of what is expected vs. what is being achieved
  3. Drive accountability to your stakeholders, vs. all the accountability being purely on your own shoulders


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. 


Summary

  • Base your partner’s relationship on data, and make sure you spend time aligning with your partner before making any decisions. 
  • Evaluate your targets and allocate the necessary resources and budget (hire additional headcount and invest in relevant partners) to reach your goals. 
  • When you have your KPIs defined, try to align them not only with your partner but with all your internal teams. 
  • Who Shares Wins—join communities and share your best practices with your industry peers. Grow your network. 
  • Take time to score your partners and create dashboards to prioritize your budget and time according to your goals. 
  • Get your C-level onboard by proving the value of partners to get the resources you need.

Are you ready to generate more ROI from partnerships based on your ecosystem data? Sign Up For Free.

‍‍‍

Daniel Lancioni 10 min

Partnership Success Checklist: How to Start the Year Strong


Daniel Lancioni guides us through the 10 key elements that you need to know to achieve true partnership success.


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