Interview Series: How Experts Measure Partnership Success
Updated: Mar 30
This article was guest written by Shohei Narron, Technology Partner Manager at Google Cloud
Business development reps are measured on qualified leads and meetings they book, and sales people are measured on their ability to close deals. Marketers look for ways to increase the flow of leads, and engineers for better ways to bring new and better ways to solve problems. Alliances, on the other hand, are a mix of all of these and more.
Partnership leaders are responsible for running a multitude of deliverables. And like all departments need to show ROI and measure their success as they grow inside their organization.
In theory, a flexible, malleable Alliances organization that can support a wide variety of functions is a wonderful thing to have. In reality, this means that partner professionals face difficulties not only in focusing on one area, but also to showcase the value they bring to an organization with concrete metrics — should you be building new integrations and solutions, spend time digging for partner-sourced deals, or finding new case studies to be published and broadcasted through webinars?
I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down and discussing how six alliances professionals responsible for various types of partnerships on how they measure success, and the road to to achieving it. As always, I’ll be posting one conversation per week for the next six weeks in the hopes of elevating partnerships within an organization, if not to just make everyone’s lives a little easier.
This Spotlight chapter is brought to you in partnership with Allbound.
Partnership Leaders is the industry association for Partnership/Channel/ Alliances/Business Development leaders.
The association’s mission is to elevate the role of partnership leaders at their companies and provides a vibrant online community, virtual events, curated professional networking opportunities, and educational resources to drive success for our members.
Takeaways, a.k.a. tl;dr
Understand the Why of Partnerships:
In order to measure success, you need to have a vision of what success looks like. While increasing partner-sourced revenue may be the obvious first choice for a consulting / agency partner team, a tech integration team could be focused on integration development, content creation, and taking full advantage of the larger cloud partner program benefits. Knowing why the specific partnership team and structure exists helps focus efforts on high-priority items rather than spreading measurements across revenue, case studies, webinars, and other activities. Depending on what success looks like and how you’re planning to measure performance, you may consider placing partnership groups under different organizations (e.g. Sales v. Marketing v. Product).
Set Your Team Up for Success:
As a wearer of many hats, it’s easy to suddenly find yourself spread thin across partner sourcing and onboarding, pipeline development, content creation, sales enablement, and other peripheral activities. Are you measured on sourced revenue but spending more time coordinating webinars, project managing integration development, or interfacing with the sales team more than you do with partners? “Partner Management” can be, and often should be, split into Partner Marketing, Partner Sales, Partner Program, and Partner Development Management as your workload not only increases, but also spreads out across teams and fields. Ensure you have proper partner activity coverage by hiring the right people in the right focus area.
Don’t Forget to Track Activities:
The topic of tracking partnership activities elicited the least big-picture and most tactical answers—first and foremost, make sure you’re tracking everything in your CRM. There unfortunately isn’t a silver bullet for this, and it’s a tedious process of building workflows, educating internal stakeholders, and monitoring your CRM hygiene from time to time. But measuring and collecting data on partnership activities wouldn’t be possible without the tools and people who record key items for you. Try not to look at it as a necessary evil, but a way to better “help them help you.”
From Process to Goals — Evolving KPIs in a Maturing Organization:
Earlier in a startup’s lifecycle, there just isn’t a lot of data to report on. Maybe you’ve just launched your partner team, or signed on the first couple of partners, and wondering how to gauge success in the interim before you start seeing results. Though it’s still important to keep track of the output of your activities, you should put more weight on tracking activities themselves, and qualitative measurements. For example, rather than looking at the number of qualified leads or closed opportunities, focus on accomplishing X number of account mapping sessions, getting commitments to run biweekly meetings with X partners, and so on. In addition, qualitative measurements like how quickly your partner counterpart responds to your email will at least get you started on the right path for the time being.
And remember revisit what success looks like every year to calibrate the partnership team’s vision with the overall stage of the organization — creating a partner program and signing up your first five partners requires a different outlook than adding your 101st marketplace integration.