Building Powerful Partner Programs & Teams with Ethan Lewis

Cass Polzin
Cass Polzin9 Nov, 2021

This article is part of our Growing a Partnerships Team spotlight series. Each week, a different professional joins us to share their experience scaling their partnerships team. Learn more in this quarter’s introduction.

Ethan Lewis is the Director of Global Partnerships at Webflow. Before joining the Webflow team, Ethan spent four years as a Strategic Partnerships Manager at Contentful. There, he was the second hire in North America for Contentful and the first partnerships hire in the organization.

Ethan helped build the agency and partner programs from scratch, at the very end transitioning to 100% managing the digital agencies partner program. Today, Ethan joins us to discuss his experience growing partner programs and partner teams at Contentful and Webflow.

Building Powerful Partner Programs

Ethan Lewis

Ethan has a history of joining teams at the beginning of the partner program. “In my first partnerships role at Jobvite, I was building a partner reseller program from scratch. While it wasn’t 100% built by me, I was part of that project. When developing those programs, your number one focus should be on what type of partner program you’re looking to build out. For example, is the biggest need from customers a solutions partner program where they need help implementing your solution? Or are there feature gaps, integrations that are necessary to really make your go-to-market successful? Start by identifying the biggest value parts can have in your organization.”

Ethan continued, sharing advice from his experience growing partner programs from the ground up. “Depending on which side of the partnerships you decide to start with, understand what they need, who they’re working with, and who can provide value. For example, coming into Contentful and Webflow, I needed to understand which agencies and solutions partners we needed to start working with in the future to attract and recruit the kinds of customers we want to go after.”

Growing the Webflow Partnerships Team

When Ethan joined the Webflow team, he joined as the first founding partnership team member. “Today, we have hired five individuals to the partnerships team since I started. I look at partnerships as being a jack-of-all-trades type of role. Candidates need to be technical enough to run intro calls, demos, and discoveries without a Partner Solution Engineer on every call. They should have marketing experience as well, such as having run co-marketing programs with partners without needing a dedicated partner resource every time.”

Ethan ensures Sales, Marketing, and Partnerships teams are involved in the hiring process after sourcing candidates from LinkedIn, his network, and Partnership Leaders. If you’re interested in joining the Webflow team, you can apply for this Director, Technical Business Development role, their first platform partnerships role.

Ethan’s Advice for Partnerships Success

Ethan has found his sweet spot in partnerships. He had a few pieces of advice for others looking to succeed in the industry. “You need to be understanding. It’s important to be a well-rounded Partnerships Manager. Being a well-rounded partnerships manager for me means having those technical capabilities and experience managing those partners — that diverse background is super beneficial to success in a role.”

He also recommended, “Do not be afraid to be the first partnership hire or to go build something from scratch. It can be exciting to build the program you’ve always wanted as a foundational team member.”

Excel in Your Career & Scale Your Team with Partnership Leaders

Ethan had some incredible advice to share from his experiences founding and growing partnerships programs. Be sure to explore the rest of the interviews in our hiring series for even more insights from talented professionals. For even more tactical advice from professionals in the industry, grab our Career Progression Playbook, which breaks down a partnerships career into four key stages, highlighting the necessary skills for each.

Partnership Leaders connects professionals from modern technology companies looking to advance their careers, expand their partner programs, and grow their organizations. So whether you’re looking to land a new role in partnerships, excel in your current role, or grow your team, Partnership Leaders has resources for you. Apply now to join the exclusive community hundreds of partnership professionals rely on.

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