5 Things to Consider When Launching Your Partner Program
This article was written by Jennifer Snyder, Founder and Director of Partnerships at Partner Ecosystem Development. It gives you practical tips and knowledge on the essential things to know before launching your partner program. By leveraging the key points suggested by Jennifer, you will be able to create and launch your company’s partner program effectively.
Launching a partner program might seem easy, but it’s not so simple. To maintain a successful launch for your program, it’s crucial to set a rich foundation of resources that you can utilize throughout its consecutive development. These particular resources range from tools, knowledge, and processes to human resources and allocated budgets.
Still, the question remains? What are the top things you need to have in mind when launching your business’s partner program? Although there are various points you need to consider, a Partner Blueprint, Milestones, Visibility, Ecosystem Organization, and Resource Allocations are the top 5 things to look out for when crafting and launching a partner program.
Let’s have a closer look at each of these 5 points and their importance when crafting and launching your partner program.
1. Create a Partner Blueprint
Has your leadership team taken the time to come together and craft a partner blueprint? This essential document is the cornerstone for aligning internal goals, fostering a sense of shared purpose, and encouraging active participation in collaborative efforts.
By formulating a partner blueprint, companies establish a clear roadmap that guides their collective efforts toward common objectives. This proactive approach strengthens internal cohesion and creates a sense of ownership and accountability among team members, laying the groundwork for successful partnerships.
The question is, how do you start crafting a partner blueprint?
Schedule time with all the stakeholders involved in your partnership affair. For many companies, this includes the founder, CEO, COO, CFO, VP of Sales, VP of Marketing, VP of partnerships, Director of Service, etc. Don’t forget to include two or three sales representatives! Sales reps who make it to presidents’ clubs typically know the value of forming connections and partnerships to reach goals. Ask them first.
2. Milestones Matters!
Now is the opportunity to transform those brilliant shared ideas into tangible plans. Crafting S.M.A.R.T. goals is a practice many leaders embrace for its fundamental value.
As you outline your goals, consider key milestones that serve as metrics for measuring the growth and success of your partner program. These milestones may encompass various aspects, such as forging new partnerships, exploring co-marketing opportunities, securing directory listings, and enhancing visibility within mutual partnerships.
Don’t forget to delve into Partner Assist – identifying which deals your partners played a pivotal role in closing. Keep a close eye on metrics like the number of partner lead referrals and successful partner deals. Remember, the essence lies in winning together.
Efficient tracking is also paramount; openly sharing both successes and setbacks within your partner program is the anchor to refine and evolve your collaborative efforts. This collaborative approach is fundamental to fostering growth and progressing together.
3. Partnership Visibility
Ensuring your entire company is well-versed in the partnership domain is crucial before launching your partner program. That is why you need to allocate a significant chunk of your time to educate and empower your team and foster a collective understanding across your entire organization.
One of the ways to do that is by sharing partner wins and failures through written, verbal, and visible means. Consider spotlighting partnerships in company-wide communications, featuring manager highlights during team meetings, and establishing a dedicated Wiki page or another internal system to educate the team on partnerships.
Additionally, don’t forget to recognize that people learn in different ways, so the more varied touchpoints you incorporate, the more effective the dissemination of knowledge. By sharing partner successes, especially in team meetings, you're not only creating valuable internal connections but also contributing significantly to the company's collaborative growth. Include concrete metrics and slides to illustrate the impact of these partnerships and emphasize their importance in driving overall success.
4. Partner Ecosystem Organization
When establishing a thriving partner ecosystem, it's essential to begin with a strong internal foundation. Alignment within the organization is crucial for success in building a sustainable partner program. This internal cohesion sets the stage for ongoing growth and maintenance of the ecosystem.
Similar to the careful construction and maintenance of a pet gecko's habitat, a partner ecosystem involves multiple components. Just as the pet gecko's habitat requires a balance of soil, bugs, plants, and temperature, a successful partner program relies on various elements coming together harmoniously.
In both cases, there's a need for diversity – whether it's different types of beneficial bugs in the gecko's habitat or tools, templates, and processes in the partner program. Just as the gecko's habitat must be structured and maintained, a partner program demands ongoing attention and care to ensure its health and effectiveness.
5. Resource Allocations
We've heard inspiring stories of bootstrapping partnerships, such as the journey of Peter Caputo, the architect behind HubSpot's partner program. Despite starting without robust internal support from leadership, Caputo's dedication and willingness to learn turned this endeavor into one of the most successful tech partnerships globally.
HubSpot's partner program, with its emphasis on the culture code, upfront expectations, and partner acknowledgment, has become a model for many, contributing to over 44% of the company's revenue. This remarkable success story is particularly noteworthy given HubSpot's current valuation of over $22.6 billion.
However, as we navigate the era of Nearbound, where trusted recommendations significantly influence decision-making, proven partnerships will continue to remain valuable. It's crucial to plan your partnership budget and allocate resources appropriately and strategically.
This comprehensive approach includes budgeting for marketing time, attendance at key events and conferences (both in person and virtual), memberships, partner consultants, technical support, travel, partner tools, integration work, and internal hires.
Properly following and planning these 5 things will elevate the launch of your partner program and help you establish a solid foundation for further partner scale. With the right resources and dedication from your whole enterprise, you will find the right partners for your products and services and elevate your reach and profitability.
If you are looking for additional support in launching, growing, or scaling your partner program and would like to chat a bit more, feel free to reach out and have a virtual tea with Jennifer.