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 extensive research on the customer journey to understand which partner types are the most influential on their journey to becoming and staying a customer. From there, design ideal partner profile types and identify which ones will have the most impact on the strategic objectives of your organization. Then, set out to form partnerships with the top 3 partner types and carefully track the results.
Question

What is your go-to playbook for activating newly recruited partners?

Answer
I think this depends on the partner type, but activation is a very important part of the partner journey just as it is with customers. This stage is great for aligning around technical plans, business objectives, and GTM launch plans. For managed partners, I would have a standard template to align on business objectives and GTM launches. This would include what the cadence of touchpoints is and KPIs for each side of the partnerships. Ensuring partner enablement content around the product and marketing side is strong also helps to kick off the partnership on the right foot. For low touch/scaled partners, setting up automations and GTM enablement content can increase activation rates as can a well-designed partner portal. For all partners, make sure to track inactivity or low performance of partners out of the gate, and put in place automation or direct contact that discovers and helps to fix the problem.
Question

What marketing do you do in order to reach partners that are not in your program, so that you can get more partners?

Answer
Marketing to partners is a very under-developed motion so a great place to stand out in the market and take the burden of partner managers doing outbound acquisition. This motion is similar to customer marketing but instead of developing around the product, you're developing marketing motions and content around the value of being a partner. I would recommend events, a prospective partner page, and high quality content that goes beyond your program and benefits your ideal partner. Being present in communities and channels where your partners are is also important. For example, one could sponsor a partnerships conference or the conference of a system of record in your space. The latter events are great for attracting customers, but they are also great for attracting new partners by sharing the value of your program.
Question

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

Answer
I would look at: what customers are requesting for integrations, what product features are missing from your product and could be filled by partners, what the partner is willing to invest technically, what the partner is willing to invest on the GTM side, what the partner is willing to invest to support and upgrade the integration, the quality of the partner product, the number of shared customers, the number of shared prospects, and the cultural and brand overlap with the partner.
Question

How do you demonstrate value and get prospective partners to the table (Outside of leveraging relationships) to kick off partnership discussions?

Answer
A prospective partner page and partner case studies can help here. If you can lay out exactly how your current partners are benefiting from being in your program, it is going to help a prospective partner make the business case for joining. Stats like 'our partner directory or integration marketplace gets X views, customers install Y integrations and reach out to Z solution partners' or 'our average partners gets A referrals a month' etc can help to show the value of your program. Developing a strong partner brand also gets people excited to work with you even beyond the numbers. A brand comes from being a good partner, but also being active in the partner community and showcasing how you are supporting and enabling your partners.
Question

How do you recommend getting started with setting goals for how many new partners to recruit on a monthly/quarterly basis?

Answer
This depends on the partner type, your strategic goals with partners and your support resources, but when getting started, I would err on the side of quality over quantity so you can understand what is working and what is not working. The goal should be to enable partners to drive real impact and then think about how to scale it out afterward. You obviously don't want to acquire more partners than you can successfully manage and support. A partner manager should be able to drive real value from 10-15 active tech, solution, service or referral partners before trying to take on more.
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
Deep, high quality integration, SLA for supporting the integration, security of the integration, meets a real need of your customers, successfully used by a reasonable number of customers for at least 6 months, and a commitment to updating it in a timely fashion. You could also roll in GTM asks such as referrals or promotion of the integration if you wish.
Question

How do I scale my partner recruitment & onboarding motion?

Answer
Marketing, partner content, and automation, and a deep understanding of the partner journey. The experience of onboarding should also be easy. For recruitment, marketing and then having a target list for outbound with segmented messaging and sequences.
Question

How do you get cross-functional buy-in to support your tech partner program, both in the early recruiting days and once the program is more established?

Answer
In the early days, internal advocacy - pitching the value of partners relying on market data - and looking for ways to show results even if they are not scaled. For example, look at the big open opportunities in the pipeline and then see where partners can influence the deal, or show that a key integration is a given as a dealbreaker by customers or it improves retention by X percent. Once it is more established, internal advocacy and showing data at scale and tracking partner influenced and partner sourced revenue in addition to impact on customer retention and satisfaction and ACV.