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Question

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

Answer
A few of the basics I go with: It starts with alignment to your product strategy and how tech partners can extend your product into new personas or use cases or brings an orders-of-magnitude amount of value to your existing personas or use cases. From there, look at trends in the market and how well-aligned partners are to those trends. Then look at the traction and determine the momentum behind the partner. This takes a lot of different forms: customer adoption, stars on GitHub, VC backing. A general sense of those two areas should give you general sense of how successful this potential partnership could be.
Question

What are some common pitfalls to avoid for tech partnership programs?

Answer
The most common pitfall is having a tech partner program that is detached from product strategy. Tech partnerships can be a force multiplier across sales and marketing but at the core they are about developing technology to take to customers. Partner leaders must collaborate closely with their colleagues in product to help prioritize discussions happening across the partner landscape. Without that collaboration, it's very difficult for a BD or partner team to action on opportunities that come up in the market when technical work is required. Two other pitfalls I see - having unclear ways that tech partnerships can be measured and lacking a strong method to prioritization of activities. Lacking in both of those areas make working internally (product, sales, marketing) and externally with tech partners very difficult.
Question

Do you track revenue coming from tech partners? How?

Answer
We have landed on tech partners being an indirect contributor to revenue - we track but do not measure tech partners on revenue metrics. We're finding the right method to track but ways we look at tech partners with regards to revenue are net-new leads generated and expansion revenue tied to adoption of a specific tech partner. This varies depending on the nature of the product and the pricing model. With regards to tracking net-new revenue generated by tech partners, it appears that across the market there is low interest in having formalized co-selling programs outside of the major cloud platforms (Eg. AWS, Microsoft, GCP). It's more about collaborating and driving positive customer outcomes together.
Question

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

Answer
First, the starting point is to share information on how our product is used and what our strategic priorities are to make sure there is alignment while learning the same from the partner. The overlap is the most important part and dictates everything from the design of the technology underlying the partnership, the terms of the partnership, and the timeline. From there, issue instances of your product for the partner to get comfortable with our technology. In some instances at LaunchDarkly, we have had customers look to become a tech partner which helps knowing they are familiar with the product. In parallel, look at the overlapping customer base to see if you can learn about how customers are leveraging the two products together. At this stage there are a few questions worth looking into: is there a large number of overlapping customers? If not, are there significant customers that overlap or customers with sophisticated use of our product? Are customers using your products in ways that have overlapping capabilities or are the two products being used in very separate ways? From there, be responsive to the partner as they look to develop the technology. It's important to have humility and respect for partners - every team is resource-constrained and being responsive and easy to work with is important in moving things along even though deadlines may be missed. Once the partner is ready, have resources to collaborate around what a launch might look like and, depending on where the tech lies in your strategy, see what additional things you can do for more strategically important tech partners. Remember: prioritization of your ecosystem is key and not all partners are equal. From there, it's really up to the customers to decide the fate of the partnership and getting their feedback dictates what the next steps are.
Question

I'm a founder of a one-year-old SaaS startup. When should I start looking for partnership opportunities?

Answer
It's never too early though I would say being mindful of the effort needed to partner well is very important. You should check out this content I did with the VC Heavybit on what I call "Minimum Viable Partnerships" which provides frameworks on how to think about an initial strategy, setting priorities, and actions that pre-Series A founders should be taking. https://www.heavybit.com/library/video/test-learn-and-scale-with-minimum-viable-partnerships
Question

What co-partner marketing activities are generating the best results in your opinion?

Answer
Integrated campaigns around categories of technology that includes partners is a successful way to market tech partnerships. Being practitioner focused and aligned on the outcomes that customers will see from using two products together is the basis behind successful co-marketing. There seems to be less interested in higher-level content focused on industry trends. Ultimately, the marketers will know best and having a good understanding of your marketing org's goals is crucial.
Question

Can a potential partnership backfire at my company? If yes, could you share some examples?

Answer
Backfiring could mean a lot of things. The most common I see is that teams invest a lot of time and resources into partnerships that repeatedly miss deadlines and have minimal to no impact on customers. Generally, there are signs in the early days of the partnership that this could be the case like vaguely defined success metrics, rotating points-of-contact, and unclear direction on the value of working together for customers. I had an instance earlier in my career where despite having strong executive buy-in from a large tech partner, we were not seeing execution on ways that would drive more value to the partnership. The biggest mistake I made at the time was neglecting to adjust the strategy and continuing to expect the partnership to be the next big thing.
Question

What's your advice on aligning partners with our sales pitch and how to we enable them to successfully pitch to our customers?

Answer
It's important to set the expectation that you are not a solely a channel for these partners - ultimately tech partners should be focused on having a compelling story on the product side. That's the mechanism by which access to your customers can be made available and it's on them to create the technology and the story to help drive new business for themselves.