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Question

How can partners help the sales team win more deals?

Answer
The best way I've seen this done by partners is by having the partner help to "re-activate" deals that the partner has introduced to the sales team as a lead. Meaning, if a potential deal on a lead that a partner sent over starts to go cold or would normally be deemed as "lost" in a normal sales process, you can set up a system where the sales team can reach out to the partner to ask if THE PARTNER can re-activate the lead by getting in touch with them. The partner is likely going to have a better relationship with this lead than your sales team will; thus, they are more likely to continue to look into your offer more if the push comes from your partner. The value of this is that your sales team has an extra lifeline to re-activate a deal. In a normal scenario, a lead may be considered "lost" under certain circumstances. But by having a parter help to re-activate the lead once it gets to this point, you can find that "lost" deals can turn into "won" more frequently.
Question

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

Answer
The best way to activate newly recruited partners is to have a pre-made 30-60-90 day plan with the partner, and to present the plan with them on the initial partner kickoff call. The beauty of having a solid 30-60-90 day plans is that it not only lays out the specific actions that are expected from both you and the partner during the first 3 months of the partnership; but it also puts DATES on these actions. When you put dates on actions, you avoid the risk of "things coming up" or "being put on the backburner" on both the partner's side and your side. When I started to implement this with our partners, we saw partners start to bring on clients to our platform in a much shorter time than before. And, not only that, we were able to give the partner exactly what they needed in the timeframe that was best for them too. Some things we include in our 30-60-90 day plans is putting a joint webinar on the calendar to promote Trainual to the partner's audience, creating custom content that shows affiliation of our partnership and helps to empower the partner's audience to make an easy decision about moving forward from our software, and having the partner think about the optimal way they can offer Trainual in their service offerings.
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
We scaled our partner program from 27 members to 1000 members in the course of a year and a half. How we did it was a few different ways: 1. Paid social media advertising 2. Cold outreach to ideal partners 3. Creating an SEO optimized page that attracts our ideal partner On the paid social media front, we generally made ads that targeted our ideal partner with the message of "do you want a better solution to help document your clients' processes?". From there, we got tons of great leads who were intrigued about the platform, and applied to our program. This was great because we could get tons of partners at scale. On the cold outreach side, we got really specific on what our ideal partner archetype was. That meant their title, demographic, client size, service offerings, etc. And when we got clear on that, I would reach out to those people via email or LinkedIn to ask if they were looking for a software that could help improve their Process Documentation services for their clients. The catch here is twofold though: you HAVE to make it clear that you are not trying to "sell" them anything. And two, you will HAVE to educate these partner leads much more about your product. So, it takes a bit of an effort to get them up to speed. But when you do, they'll be PRIME partners for you. Lastly, there are probably partners who are familiar with your product and have an interest in partnering with you. So, they will likely search "[Insert Your Company Here] partnership" into Google or a search engine. If you don't have a partner page that clearly lays out your program details and gives them an easy way to get started, then they might go to another partner who does. So, we created our own partnership landing page that comes up when "Trainual Certified Consultant" is searched, and we get a consistent flow of leads from there consistently.
Question

Do you recommend cold outbound for partner recruiting? Why/why not? What has worked for you if yes?

Answer
I 100% recommend it as partners gained from cold outreach can be your best partners. The reason why is because you can get deadly specific with the people you're reaching out to, and with that, you can gain the EXACT ideal partner type you are looking for. However, the one thing to note is that in order for cold outreach to be successful, you need to really nail down your onboarding process for these partners. When I first started doing cold outreach, I was getting partners to say "yes" to partnering with us. But in the months after, they weren't referring any business to us or were being active in our program. Later on, I realized it was because I was treating these partners the same exact way I would any other new partner and put them through the same onboarding process. This is a huge mistake! Why? Because: 1. The cold outreach prospect definitely needs more education on your system than someone who is an inbound applicant 2. They'll need more time to get familiar with the product 3. Because you'll want to win them over quickly, you also need to focus more on their needs as well and how you can support them So, having a deeper onboarding process for these partners (more so than your inbound partners) that involves more education, training, and benchmark setting is crucial for your cold partners to be successful. Lastly, one killer tip for cold outreach is to find partners who are currently getting clients onboard with products/services that COMPLIMENT your software. The reason why is because they probably aren't offering anything in your wheelhouse yet, and that means you have a lower barrier to entry vs. someone who may be recommending your competitor, because you'll have to do less convincing selling. Doing these things will lead to super profitable partners for you.
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
I think the best way to do this is by treating your partners the same exact way you would your sales team members. Meaning, give them the same kind of training and materials you would give your sales team. That looks like: 1. Thoroughly documented information on how to pitch the product, complete with scripts, objection busters, and hooks that help to sell the product 2. Holding training calls that go over mock sales calls, your pitch in action, and the opportunity to answer questions live from your partners 3. Providing them with tons of sales enablement materials such as slide decks, case studies, and other helpful information. If you treat your partners like your sales team, they will sell like your sales team. It can be easy to make the case of not giving them as much information; but if you want them to be successful, you have to empower them with the right material.
Question

Is there such a thing as recruiting too many partners? Should recruitment be limited?

Answer
In general, I think it's a great thing to have as many partners as possible. But, you need to have the right systems in place to be able to properly scale your program. For example, when we first started our Certified Partner Program at Trainual, we only had 27 partners and maybe took on a few new partners per year. Why? The process was extremely manual to get people as a part of the program. The Certification took 8 hours to do. It required them to go through an interview process. And the whole ordeal took about 3 months (and manual manpower on our end) to get them started. But, what took us to 1000 partners was automating the partner onboarding process as much as possible. Meaning, we created automated email sequences to walk partners through the process, made the Certification shorter and completely asynchronous to earn, and set up automations to give them all of the materials they need along the way. Doing this allowed us to add in more partners without leading to a proportional increase in workload for me. And on top of that, we've seen over 200% revenue growth in partner-generated revenue since we started this. As you do grow your program, even with the right systems in place, you have to be sure you have people in place who are there to support your partnerships team. Whether that means specific partnership hires, having your sales team more involved, etc, more people allows you to add more partners.
Question

What sort of revenue goals or other goals should I be setting for my service / certified partners program? What does the exec team need to see to know the program is going well and growing?

Answer
We broke our goals up into two parts during the initial ramp-up of our program: we first measured success on NUMBER of partners when we were intially scaling the program. This allowed us to get tons of partners in the door with us, and give us a large pool of partners to work with. And the second part, when we got a large number of partners, was focusing on NEW revenue referred by partners. This allowed us to focus on the key relationships within our partner pool and revenue-generating activities to help us get new business. Of course, you always want to keep this in mind throughout even the early phases of your program. But because the revenue won't always come incredibly quickly when it comes to partnerships (we all know its a long game!) getting more partners under your belt to start the relationships can help to give you a good base to start going after the revenue once its go-time. In regards to that second part of the question, the two biggest numbers that I like to report on are: 1. New recurring revenue generated by partners 2. % of total new MRR generated by partners That first one clearly shows that your partnership efforts are leading to new business for your company. And if you show that number is growing and is at a healthy clip, then you'll easily get the eyes of the exec team. But, I would argue that second number is more important. Because if you can show that a large portion of your MRR is coming from partners, and that the proportion of that number is growing, then your team is going to want to invest in partnerships more heavily because it is a growing part of the total new MRR.
Question

What partnership enablement material do you need to build to go-to-market with service partners?

Answer
You need to give partners materials that can easily show the results that their clients/customers can get by using their product. That could be slide decks, demo accounts (if you are a SaaS company), case studies, ROI calculators, etc. For example, at Trainual, we give all of our partners access to a fully built out demo account that they can use to show their clients what their Trainual account could look like when its all built out. This has been super helpful because when leads can SEE the benefit that they can get from the software, they are more likely to purchase. And you want to make sure your partners can do that on their own without having to always pass it on to your sales team. With that said, it raises this point: give your partners the same amount of sales enablement material that your sales team gets. Why? It makes it easier for the partner to sell the software for you, saves your team a ton of time from working leads, and you have a WARMER sell by a partner on your software. You almost have to think of your service partners as an extension of your sales team. And you wouldn't leave your sales team with less collateral than they need to do their job right.