• Cass Polzin

Dissecting the Role of Partner Manager

Updated: Jul 9


Partner Manager working alone

While roles in Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success may necessitate partner activities, the role of Partner Manager is often the first partner-specific position in a partnerships career. According to LinkedIn, there are over 100,000 Partner Managers across the globe today and companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services employ 1,000-2,000 Partner Managers each.


Last quarter, we dug into the career journeys of a variety of professionals in partnerships. In this article, we’ll synthesize findings from all of our interviews, spotlights panels, and industry research.


Why does an organization hire a Partner Manager?

Organizations choose to hire Partner Managers when they have developed goals and laid out a strategy for their partner program. Partner Managers are individual contributors, focused on executing the strategy developed by a VP or Head of Partnerships. For established partner teams, Partner Manager hires are tied to growth and expansion into new verticals or territories.


What are a Partner Manager's responsibilities?

Partner Managers are individual contributors who support a company’s partnership efforts. Typically, Partner Managers interface directly with partners and internal teams. Partner Managers often have a handful of partnerships that are theirs to own, manage, and support.

Partner Managers also support training and enablement internally and with partners, along with enabling co-selling and co-marketing initiatives.


What skills are essential to a Partner Manager’s success?

Partner Manager team meeting

The role of Partner Manager requires more in the way of soft skills than hard skills and past experiences. Most crucial to the position, Partner Managers should be empathetic, curious, and confident with strong abilities in communication, relationship building, negotiation, and critical thinking.


Partner Managers don’t need previous experience in partnerships to be successful. However, experience in other departments like sales, marketing, customer success, and product development can help an individual interface more effectively internally.


What comes next in a partnerships career?

After excelling as an individual contributor, stepping up to support a team is the natural progression for a Partner Manager. Moving into a Director of Partnerships role, Partner Managers can shift from being an individual contributor to managing and expanding a team.


Dig deeper into the career journeys of Partner Managers:

Travis Bradley, Alliance Manager at Tipalti

Barrett King, Enterprise Channel Partner Manager at HubSpot


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