How to Optimize Strategic Partnerships Resources
A partnerships team touches everything from sales to solution consulting, customer success to marketing, product to engineering, and even finance. Collaborating with so many different departments can be challenging. Similarly, your partnerships team will have to take on a variety of roles within your organization. How can you effectively align your partnership resources to drive the best results?
Best Practices for Collaborating Cross-functionally
As a partnerships professional, you rely on many different departments within your organization in order to be successful. When you’re approaching other departments in search of resources or support, you need to go into it focused on getting buy-in.
The best way to earn a team’s buy-in is by approaching a conversation focused on what’s in it for them. For example, if you’re talking to a finance person, you need to have a numbers-driven conversation — How will this impact the bottom line? If you’re having a product discussion, you may position your partner’s efforts as filling a product gap not currently on their product roadmap or taking a heavy lift off their shoulders where partners are taking on work that falls lower down on their prioritization scale.
If you don’t have a cross-functional understanding and concurrence of a partner strategy (the why) when you build your playbook (the how), you won’t be able to get far. It’s important to put your asks to different functional leaders upfront while highlighting the value they’ll see from your efforts.
Optimizing Partnerships Resources with a Quadrant Approach
Within a partner team, there are many moving parts and functions you’re responsible for. Taking a functional area approach to your team and partner tasks can help clarify responsibilities and optimize resources. While there will often be overlap in different roles, mapping out your resources in this manner will ensure your team knows who owns what functions. This can also be a beneficial tool to educate the rest of your organization on all that your partner team does. Below is a sample list of functional areas (four; so think of quadrants):
Download the Strategic Partnerships Resources Template to follow along!
Partner Management & Recruitment
In this role, you’re the primary point of contact to recruit and manage all strategic partners. You’re the day-to-day contact and sometimes an escalation point. You act as the conduit between your company and your partners. This role helps develop and maintain target partner account lists as well as works on key partner initiatives.
As part of maintaining target partner account lists, this individual will need to identify where there are missing pieces and recruit partners based on geography, partner type, integration needs, vertical expertise, and more.
Partner Sales & Sales Enablement
More often than not, there’s a definite focus on pipeline creation and driving revenue for partnerships within an organization. This role is really focused on getting partners to drive pipeline and close deals. In many cases, partners can source deals, while in others they’ll influence a deal. All revenue generation efforts fall under this role.
From a tactical perspective, this individual does a lot of account mapping. They identify joint customers with partners, as well as customers you have that are prospects for your partner, and customers of your partner that are your prospects. Account mapping requires buy-in from your sales and customer success teams.
Other bi-directional enablement activities also fall in this quadrant. It’s important that your partners know about your platform/solution/integration, but it’s just as important that your sales team understand the key integrations and joint solutions available in their partner ecosystem.
From a partner marketing perspective, you may or may not have a dedicated resource that reports to the partnership team. Often, you will work with a partner marketer who reports to the CMO, with a dotted line into partnerships.
Different from partner sales, this role manages all things go-to-market oriented with partners: demand generation, brand awareness, and joint networking events, to name a few. This truly is a mile-wide, inch-deep role. Nearly any effort can be considered promotion and everything that’s happening with partners should be promoted externally across social feeds, email newsletters, etc. as well as internal communications.
This role takes on the product and engineering-related tasks in partnerships. Typically, this role works behind the scenes to ensure technology alignment with partners. Specifically, when it comes to ISV partners, you often need to ensure both product teams are on the same page.
The tech enablement role works with the product team to help communicate the product roadmap to partners and identify potential product gaps that partners could fill. Additionally, this role needs to ensure API and other technical documentation is kept up to date and shared periodically.
Drive Success with Strategic Partnerships
Strategic partnerships are complex relationships that can drive a surplus of benefits for everyone involved. Taking a quadrant approach can help align resources and manage expectations of your partner team. Download the Strategic Partnerships Quadrant Template to start defining roles and managing resources at your organization.
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Thanks to Jim Misuraca for sharing his insights from fifteen years of experience in the partnerships space, most recently as the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at CM Group. In our strategic alliances panel, Jim divulged his secrets for effectively collaborating cross-functionally and optimizing partnerships resources, inspiring this article.