View AMA
Question

What are the first things you would recommend a partner manager do when building out a new program from zero to one?

Answer
Do an audit. Take stock of what's going on at your company and understand the basics. How many customers do you have? How do you communicate with those customers? Where are customers struggling? How can partners help them? What matters to your leadership—leads? Sign ups? Trials? MRR? Awareness? Page Visits? What are the top two metrics you should be impacting? Get on sales calls as a fly on the wall and understand what customers' pain points are, where they are in their understanding of the problem you're trying to solve. Which other companies' products do they use? Why do they use them? Really get a good understanding of your customer. From there, get a sense of whether your company has tried various partnerships in the past and how they went. You should be able to now make informed decisions about which programs to start, which partners to target, and how to go about new campaigns. Research other companies' programs and get on calls with other partner managers to understand what worked well for them, where they saw friction. From there you should be able to write up a pretty good strategy. I hope this helps!
Question

What are the criterias with which I should choose my partners ?

Answer
I look at a few things, depending on what kind of relationship you'd like to have with your partner. If you're evaluating a partner for co-marketing/integration potential: - How many customers does the partner have? How many people on their email list/social channels? This is basically getting a sense of their reach and how established they are in the market. - How many joint customers do we have? Who is their audience? Are they aligned with ours? - Do they have access to marketing resources? Do they speak in a similar voice and tone as us? - How do they approach building integrations? Security? Updates and support? - What is their vision for the future of their business? Where are they going? - Why should we prioritize this partner? Is their solution/integration something our customers are asking for? - If you're specifically looking for a partner to integrate with, how do they support the integration post-launch? Are they interested in driving integration connections and working together on go-to-market? How dedicated will they be to trying to reach an integration connection goal? Try and create a spreadsheet that touches on each of these points to help you prioritize partners and identify a good fit. This will give you a really good sense of the partner and how you might work together.
Question

What partner types do you recommend a partner program consist of? How do I segment my partners in my program?

Answer
This really depends on what your goals are. I would recommend against having a bunch of different types just to have them. There are so many different types of partners a company can have: co-marketing partners, referral partners, affiliate partners, resell partners, integration partners, agency partners, developer partners, you name it. I'd recommend starting out with understanding your goals. Are you goaled on sign ups? MRR? New integrations? Retention? Free trials? Ideally you don't have more than one north star goal that you're trying to impact. Don't try to do everything at once. Find what programs are going to best help you reach your goal and focus on the ones that are going to be most impactful and easiest to get going. It's possible that you have a partner fit into several categories, which is okay, but their partner strategy should feel seamlessly integrated across all categories—you don't want partners getting confused.
Question

What metrics should we be tying partner manager commissions to and why?

Answer
This really depends on your goals and there's no easy answer here. In the past, I've had my commissions tied to MRR because my goals were MRR focused. That drove me to create partnerships that would specifically encourage customers to sign up for paid plans, or free plans that would then be converted quickly. Make sure you're super aligned on your goals and how partner managers will be trying to hit them. If commissions are tried to sign ups as a whole, for example, but leadership actually wants you driving MRR, then you might be misaligned as your partner managers will create relationships that drive free trials or free sign ups, as it's easier to get a customer in that way, but if the flywheel isn't making it easy for those free sign ups to convert, you won't hit your MRR goal.
Question

How do you choose which technology partners are a good fit for your business?

Answer
I look at a few things: - How many customers does the partner have? How many people on their email list/social channels. This is basically getting a sense of their reach and how established they are in the market. - How many joint customers do we have? Who is their audience? Are they aligned with ours? - Do they have access to marketing resources? Do they speak in a similar voice and tone as us? - How do they approach building integrations? Security? Updates and support? - What is their vision for the future of their business? Where are they going? - Why should we prioritize this partner? Is their solution/integration something our customers are asking for? This will give you a really good sense of the partner and how you might work together.
Question

Any tips for reengaging dormant Partners?

Answer
Get on a call and get a sense of how their situation has changed since you started a partnership. Specific questions: - Is this partnership still a priority for you? Why/why not? - Has your mission/goal changed since we last spoke? Are you still being measured on XYZ? - Has your leadership changed? Has the vision or resourcing changed with any leadership moves? - What is the ideal relationship you have with our company? How can we help you grow? - Where is there friction in our partnership? How can we solve for it? That should help you figure out why they went dormant, and where you can go from here.
Question

What would you recommend is a good set of asks / what are some must haves - to get from an integration partner before we certify them and market them to our customers?

Answer
Hey there! Here are a few things to think through, not an exhaustive list: - How are they supporting the integration? What happens if something breaks or needs to be updated? - What happens if someone needs help with the integration? How can customers reach them and how quickly will they be responded to? - What does the security of the integration look like? How is customer data being stored/managed? - Are they promoting the integration? If so, how? What do their marketing resources look like? - What is the value prop for customers? What are best practices for using the integration? - Do you have screenshots/video walkthrough of the integration? - What are your goals for this integration? Are you looking for a specific number of connections? Are you hoping it will drive sign ups for your product? What does a successful integration look like for you? From there you can figure out whether it's the right fit, and how you can work with them to drive more connections.
Question

Can you share how commission targets for Partner Mangagers have played into your strategy, if at all?

Answer
This question is a bit like another question previously asked here, so I'll copy that answer in below. The TLDR is make sure your commission target is absolutely aligned with your overall goal, otherwise your partner managers will be working on something that doesn't mean as much to leadership, goals will be misaligned, and your partner team won't feel like their work is being valued. --- This really depends on your goals and there's no easy answer here. In the past, I've had my commissions tied to MRR because my goals were MRR focused. That drove me to create partnerships that would specifically encourage customers to sign up for paid plans, or free plans that would then be converted quickly. Make sure you're super aligned on your goals and how partner managers will be trying to hit them. If commissions are tried to sign ups as a whole, for example, but leadership actually wants you driving MRR, then you might be misaligned as your partner managers will create relationships that drive free trials or free sign ups, as it's easier to get a customer in that way, but if the flywheel isn't making it easy for those free sign ups to convert, you won't hit your MRR goal.
Question

What role do non-native tech integrations (ex: A company building and marketing an integration via Zapier) play in partner program strategy? What kind of guardrails should be created and marketed for those "partner" types?

Answer
Yeah, this is a great question, and actually I'd be really stoked to hear from other partner managers on how they've worked with these kinds of partners. Personally, I do not prioritize these relationships, and I could be in the wrong here. Zapier integrations are incredibly helpful and I think they're absolutely amazing in solving problems for customers quickly. I'm very happy to recommend Zapier integrations to customers who aren't finding exactly what they need in the HubSpot ecosystem. However, I do not prioritize those partnerships if they aren't building into the HubSpot ecosystem. Although these kinds of integrations can absolutely impact customer retention positively, I'm focused on prioritizing and omissions. If you're just ramping up your integrations, linking back to Zapier is a great idea to help customers find what they're looking for. At the end of the day, you're trying to solve for the customer. It's also a great way to see what is possible for a potential integration partner to build. If you know that X people are using a Zapier integration with partner Y, consider reaching out to the partner and having them build into your ecosystem. Then, you can do all sorts of go to market together, and grow your mutual customer numbers. Again, I'd love to hear from others on how they have worked with these kinds of relationships, as I likely have a lot to learn here.
Question

What should partnership managers look out for as blockers in 2023

Answer
Partnerships have been exploding in 2022—it's so cool to see the growth this industry is experiencing. My advice for partnership managers is not to lose sight of the building blocks. That includes truly understanding your customer base. Many partnerships fail because although the partners involved were big + exciting, with sexy new opportunities to work together, the customer base was simply not aligned. My advice to all partnership managers in 2023: get on calls with your prospects and customers and better understand what their problems are, which products they're using, where the product could work better for them. This can be as easy as a weekly "fly on the wall" call with a salesperson or CSM + prospect/customer. In each call, ask the customer/prospect one of these questions: - Which other tools do you use? Why do you use them—how do they help you in your business? - What is one of your biggest headaches right now in your business? - What are you trying to learn right now to help grow your business? What kind of information would be helpful? Weekly calls like this will have you knowing your customer better than ever, and will make it much easier for you to prioritize partners, find new partners, have creative and successful co-marketing ideas, create better sales + partner enablement, etc. It'll also get your team better aligned with marketing and sales teams. Make it a habit and you'll avoid many blockers.
Question

How do you recommend segmenting a partner program to provide utility to both your partners AND customer/prospect audience?

Answer
I'm not sure that I would say segmenting, but I'd recommend optimizing a partner program for value to both partner and customer. To do that you'd be thinking about at least two things: understanding your customer + aligning with internal teams. Each partner program should be working internally with CSMs, salespeople, and marketers. Having meetings with marketing teams and channel owners to understand what they're highlighting to customers and what they are goaled on, will help you create campaigns that are aligned with internal teams and can go farther. Working with salespeople will help both of you provide value to customers and reach your goals. Salespeople get resources from partners (FAQs on offers, integrations, info on prospect needs, etc) and can use that information to close deals. This is good for your customer and your partner program. CSMs can tell you what customers are looking for + what issues they're trying to solve, which can give you information to use for campaigns and new partner opportunities like integrations or campaigns. Hope this helps but if you were asking something different, please feel free to DM me on LinkedIn and we can think through your question together!