The Power of Your Network in Partnerships

Cass Polzin
Cass Polzin29 Jun, 2021

This article is part of our Uncovering the Partnerships Career Path spotlight series. Each week, a different professional joins us to share their take on the partnerships career path, responsibilities at each stage, best practices for advancing professionally, and more. Learn more in the intro article.

Alex Richards is the Senior Director of Global Alliances at Momentive (Formerly SurveyMonkey), where he’s been since November of 2021. Today, Alex joins us to discuss his career in SaaS and CCaaS technology, ultimately leading to partnerships, the resources that helped him, and lessons learned along the way.

Thanks to Allbound for sponsoring this quarter’s spotlight series!

Allbound PRM

Allbound is a SaaS Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform that gives its customers visibility into predictable channel revenue, indirect and direct pipeline, and insight into partner engagement and adoption. With Allbound, you have the ability to monitor, understand, and track partner behavior so you can measure, iterate, and improve.

Alex’s Path to Alliances at Momentive

Alex Richards

Alex Richards is the Senior Director of Alliances at Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey). He has always had a strong tie to partnerships, but he really embraced it at Stella Connect back in 2017. Alex explained, “Within the first week at Stella Connect, I realized that we had a lot of gaps where we could optimize integrations, create channels, and build an alliances team. The success we have seen within alliances at Stella Connect translated well when we got acquired by Medallia for $100m. My team and I then moved over to incorporate our contact center portfolio and help elevate existing relationships to overhaul the previous alliance arm. Medallia was later acquired for $6.4b by Thoma Bravo.”

Collaborating with partners has been a key theme throughout Alex’s career. “In pretty much every SaaS technology role I’ve held for the last twelve years, I’ve always had connections to vendors and built alliances with people in the same ecosystem. I found that if you have a clear understanding of the space, your solutions, and where you might need help, you can make a difference. There are a couple of key elements to consider, like who to work with and whether you’re forming a general alliance or a strategic relationship built on a competitive advantage. You also need to keep in mind effort vs. reward—if everyone wants to partner with you, where can you focus to have the largest impact and the strongest results? When I took the role at Stella Connect, I saw a massive opportunity to make the organization a significant player in the CX space using partnerships, and this mindset helped us get there.”

Responsibilities of the Role

When it comes to his daily responsibilities, Alex shared, “Today, being the Head of Alliances is all about strategy, scale, growth, and delivering results while refining processes along the way. My primary focus is on getting the best out of my team, supporting them with the tools, coaching, and resources they need to be successful. Our strategic focus has enabled us to define the best partners to work with and maintain alignment with our overall business objectives. From there, it’s all about developing those relationships, slotting them into the right program, building integrations, and getting them to market to generate pipeline.”

Outside of strategy development, Alex believes in working smarter with partners. “Account mapping, business development, go-to-market, and scalable, replicable processes have been critical. With every new partner we bring in, we want to create a lot of field activity by activating our sales reps and aligning with accounts we know will be a fit. This focus really drives our opportunities. Crossbeam has been extremely helpful to do this.”

As with most partner programs, Alex’s goals do include driving revenue. “We want to make sure we’re working with partners that matter—that are going to help us accomplish our goals as a business—and that offer relationships that translate well in the overall space. I’ve always found that enabling both parties in the field is a great place to start, making partners accessible and ensuring they’re set up for success. The aim is to guarantee we are driving business for both parties. This approach fosters organic collaboration, trust, and credibility for both parties while focusing on building genuine relationships with one another.”

Resources and Advice for Success in Partnerships

Alex attributes much of his success in partnerships to his ability to leverage the resources that are available to him. He shared, “My network has been incredibly powerful. I really enjoy having relationships with real people who care, who understand what they’re seeing and hearing, and who are driven. When it comes to partnerships and alliances, things are changing for the better. This space has historically been a stereotypical “old boys club,” with little diversity and people who talk a good talk but are not invested in teamwork and relationships. My drive and hustle have always been there, but over the years, my approach has become stronger and more focused. I’m really encouraged by the new wave of talent that’s coming up alongside me.”

Alex had great advice to share with anyone looking to succeed in partnerships: “Don’t just try and go after the biggest fish in the market. Be smart and be sure to manage your expectations. The thing that happens very quickly is that everyone wants to partner with you, and you spend a lot of time just doing busywork. It’s a problem when people don’t qualify using data on why you should be collaborating. Is there mutual interest? Is there a possible pipeline? Do that discovery process—don’t skip over that qualification.”

Next, Alex highlighted the value of diversifying your partner target mix. “Ecosystem is what everyone should be thinking about, period. Think of it as a painter’s palette. If you don’t have the core colors to start, you won’t be able to paint your picture. In this case, the paint is your partner, and together, you combine to create something special. 

“My point is that it’s important to have different types and tiers of partners in your portfolio. Your alliance with a large strategic company will take 6-12 months to execute, whereas a company in the mid-market commercial space can move a lot quicker. Working both in parallel expedites the process so you can get some revenue coming into the pipeline and get some early success under your belt to show value and proof of concept.”

Alex’s Next Career Steps

On the next step in his career, Alex shared, “I’m really happy at Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey). We have a great leadership team and there is a major focus on culture, career development, and innovation. I felt like the company was the next natural progression for me after my tenure at Medallia, and I’m excited about the great things we’re working on as a company right now. We have a great suite of survey and insights products that customer experience, employee experience, and market research professionals love and rely on. My focus is creating a world-class alliance organization that develops great talent, meaningful relationships, increased brand awareness, and most of all creates results for the business.

What Could Your Next Career Step Be?

Whether you’re looking to take the first step into a career in partnerships or are ready to take your second, third, and beyond, Partnership Leaders provides the resources you need to succeed. Connect with like-minded individuals facing similar challenges to your own to ask questions and bounce ideas off of. Apply now to join the group partnership professionals all over the world turn to.

Download the Partnerships Career Progression Playbook to get insights from professionals like Alex on advancing a partnerships career.

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