Measuring Partnership Success, Part 3: Maryam Lahiji
This article was guest written by Shohei Narron, Technology Partner Manager at Google Cloud
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.
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Background and Context: “In my current role, I manage Amplitude’s strategic technology integration partners. Though I’ve been in partnerships for about 10 years, I just came to the SF-centric SaaS-type partnerships four years ago from LA. Before that, I used to work with channel partners and distributors of technology hardware products. In the past year and a half that I’ve been at Amplitude, I’ve seen a number of shifts in how we measure partnership team success, from how we operate, to how we are incentivized.”
It All Starts with Internal Education: “I was the first hire to manage technology integrations at Amplitude, and had about 70+ partners when I joined. We were focused on a few partners who had been working with us due to product and culture fit, but we didn’t have any processed to understand who we’re building integrations with and why. Most of our AEs and CSMs didn’t know how to engage with tech partners, or understand why they should share account-level information with them. We had to work through a lot of partnership education for internal stakeholders focused on establishing partnership credibility and the long-term ROI partner relationships can bring.”
Changing Metrics, Same Goals: “We’ve shifted the relative importance of sourced and influenced revenue — from a 25–75 split, to a 100%-referral goal, and many in between—but we’ve always focused on tying partnership activities to revenue. A sourced deal is when partners find a new contact that leads to a deal. If there’s already a deal in play, it turns into an influenced deal. For us, ‘influence’ is a wide window, from partners being present throughout the deal, to back-channeling and active support with the deal. This is where AE enablement becomes important once again; you need AEs to know the difference between a referred and influenced deal, and make sure there is a system to let you know when they are working with a customer. Ultimately you want to create a channel for AEs to build relationships with their partner counterparts, which becomes hard to track all activities on your own. In hindsight, we missed a lot of potential referral deals just because we didn’t know they were in play, and AEs didn’t know when to loop us in.”
The Bottom Line, Always: “A renewed focus on referrals has increased the amount of attention from our Sales and Marketing teams. That’s definitely one way, if not the only way, to get attention from the business overall. Of course, there are a lot of other indirect revenue-generating activities like publishing content and building integrations which you should be tracking, but it ultimately won’t matter if these activities can’t be tied to revenue.”
Set Your Team Up with Proper Headcount: “We just onboarded a full-time partner marketing person who has made some things much easier — particularly bridging the gap between marketing and partnerships. There are a ton of priorities to work at a growth-stage company, so it’s often close to impossible to get part-time contributions that actually move the needle. Telling the joint story and clearly articulating the 1+1=3 story is key in driving outcomes in partnerships motions, and writing solution briefs and publishing case studies is a full-time endeavor. You’re not going to be able to develop content consistently without sacrificing something else on your plate if you try to do it all. Having help and templated briefs streamlines the process through a partner marketer. ”
A Note on Distributors (hint: More AE Education): “Partnership professionals know that channel partner-sourced deals hit commission structures differently when a distributor is involved, which can lead to situations where your account teams don’t want to engage with partners. When I first moved to SF I realized the one thing AEs can forget working in the Silicon Valley bubble is that what they’re selling is new, and not completely understood in the wider market. In tech the vast majority of companies run on cloud infrastructure, but think about corporations that are still working with on-prem systems and locked-down firewalls. Could an AE single handedly change their perspectives and sell a completely cloud-based self-service product? Change management within older enterprises are difficult and distributors can bridge this gap. Your company can be even more successful when the value of each player in the ecosystem is understood and agreed upon. Creating a partner first culture and defining the value partners bring is the key to success. ”
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.