Partner Program Strategy
Service partner

What team leaders should be stakeholders in your partner program's strategy in order for the program to be successful?

6 Answers
Avi Hercenberg avatar
Avi Hercenberg
SmartSuite VP of Partnerships
I love this question! I believe the following leaders need to be aligned for a partner program to be successful: CEO - for a partner program to be successful, it needs to be a key initiative for the company. If a company treats Partnerships as an afterthought, it’s doomed for failure. If the CEO is not engaged or doesn’t see the benefit of Partnerships, it’s hard to succeed. Sales/CRO - sales will be the closest department to Partnerships. Partners need co-selling assistance and Sales will need to be sending leads to partners for services and implementations. If sales are not aligned, you will find yourself fighting over leads and not having proper deal flow for partners. Product - from my experience, service partners care most about being heard, and having input on the product roadmap. If your partner feedback won’t be heard by the product teams, your partners will grow frustrated.
Catherine Brodigan avatar
Catherine Brodigan
Intercom Head of Partnerships
Not-so-serious answer: As many as possible! Serious answer: Partner strategies can’t exist in a vacuum. Our success is directly dependent on the alignment of other teams - but the inverse is also true. If you’re building a partner strategy, you’ve got to be super clear on how your ecosystem is going to map to your broader business strategy, and that you’re aligned with broader business priorities. Then, it becomes a question of understanding who’s responsible for each of the success pillars you’re mapping to, and recruiting champions within the leadership of each of those teams. This might look like: Pillar 1 - Awareness - How do partners drive increased brand reach and tap into new markets? Your stakeholder here is probably going to be in your marketing / demand gen team - find them and align with them. Pillar 2 - Sourced revenue / logos - How will partners source net new revenue for your business? How well are they doing this today and how does that compare to your other sales channels? This will typically map to sales / growth leadership - another key champion. Pillar 3 - Activation & maturity - How do partners help unlock value within your product or extend the value out? How does this move the needle for your business today? Finding a champion here can be trickier - your stakeholders could be in your customer success org, or your product org if you’re mostly PLG - but they’re a vital party to have bought in. Pillar 4 - Retention & Renewal - How do partners help retain business? There might be macro trends to point to here (e.g. having X integrations connected to your product will boost retention by Y%), or more specific examples - you’ll have product, CX and probably sales leaders championing this and responsible for this number. And remember - partner strategies are inherently unique and proprietary - because your ecosystem is unique and proprietary! - so think through what your version of the above might look like before you start stakeholder mapping.
Janos Vrancsik avatar
Janos Vrancsik
Hygraph Ecosystem Partnerships
Titles vary from company to company, but: CEO, CRO, CMO, CPO (this latter one only if tech partnerships are a focus area) Betting on partnerships is not a quick win, not something that can be done in a quarter. Thus, executive alignment needs to be there. After establishing a partnership team, it won’t magically start generating revenue, and I think it’s important to understand for every C-level executive, that there are other aspects / benefits a partnership can drive. Of course, after some more time, if partnerships is not a revenue-driving function, then something needs to be fixed. But it’s more on the scale of a year, than a quarter. (disclaimer: I’m in the fortunate position where the Hygraph C-level understands this more than anyone else I’ve worked with before. If you’re a partnership person who wants to work at a company that *gets* partnerships, feel free to reach out to me.)
Franz-Josef Schrepf (FJS) avatar
Franz-Josef Schrepf (FJS)
Hopin Head of Strategic Partnerships
This depends on the type of program you're building: services, technology, affiliate, or alliance partners. From my experience, it pays for partner managers to be highly connected within their company. When in doubt, schedule a coffee meeting. If it was relevant, make it a recurring bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly synch. Because partnership teams are so small, people often forget they exist. It's your job to toot your team's horn, celebrate every win internally and externally, and keep up to date with any major development that could impact partners.
Tiffany Dunn avatar
Tiffany Dunn
Aircall VP of North American Channel Sales
Great question! Partner program’s aren’t going to be successful unless you have executive buy-in and cross functional leadership buy-in (product, CX, TS, Marketing, Sales, Ops). Why? Because the program is going to provide benefits and you will need resources and investments from those teams to make the program successful. As an example, partner programs provide marketing benefits. Marketing benefits such as co-marketing material, incentives, lead sharing, events, content, campaigns, resources etc are coming from the marketing or sales budget so having their buy-in is critical to the success of the program. Think about how your program could help the internal teams achieve their goals, not just the overall revenue goals of the company.
Kevin Kriebel avatar
Kevin Kriebel
Drata Vice President of Business Development
BD is typically one of the most cross functional teams in the org. At a minimum, it requires alignment with marketing, sales, product, and customer success.