When you want to boost sales and expand your customer base, partner programs are the name of the game. It’s no wonder why companies are heavily investing in strategizing, designing, and implementing referral, affiliate, reseller programs, etc. For the success of these programs, many are hiring qualified Partner Managers to manage these programs.
If you are planning to start or expand your partner program, it’s high time you had a partner manager on board. Since it is a relatively new position, created to cater to the emerging business strategy, you may feel a little unsure as to what qualities to look for in a partner manager.
Worry not! In this blog article, we are talking about the top 7 skills to look for when hiring a professional to manage your partner programs.
One of the key responsibilities of a partner manager is to strategize your affiliate, referral, and sales programs and guide those strategies. So, the candidates you consider should have strong strategic thinking skills. Needless to say, they should be able to make SMART goals for your program – i.e. goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based. Once implemented, the manager should also be able to readjust the strategy based on the results it yields.
Partner programs and affiliate marketing are areas where data plays a crucial role as it offers insights necessary for strategic decision making. This means the person you hire as your partner manager should possess good data analytic skills. She/he is required to analyze the performance of the program, including number of leads / deal registered, conversion rates, partner performance analytics, cost per lead, CLV, churn rate etc. From this information, they should be able to identify useful insights that can further guide your strategies.
From recruiting and onboarding partners to training and collaborating with them daily, your partner managers will be juggling responsibilities to get the partnership up and running. They assist partners on their deals, analyze partner results, take care of payouts and commission, and manage the entire partner lifecycle. And we are not talking about just one or two partners, but multiple. So, it is in your best interests to hire candidates who are organized and have excellent coordination skills.
Experience and expertise in sales or marketing is another quality to look for in your partner manager. Here, you need to make a decision based on your partner recruitment strategy. If you have a premium partner program that recruits only a few high-profile partners, you need a manager with some background in sales. On the other hand, a partner program intended to get as many partners as possible will benefit from a manager with some marketing background.
A partner program is a vast ecosystem involving many partners. Naturally, you can expect several hiccups to happen several times a day. Partner Managers are often the first person your partners will contact in the event of a problem. This is where the problem-solving skills of a partner manager come in handy. They must step in at the right time – more often than not, in real time – and offer support. Depending on the nature of the problem, they will also need to involve other internal teams (technical, sales, accounting, etc.) to find the right solution.
Last but never least, the candidate should have good training skills. In most SaaS companies, partner managers have the additional task of training new agencies and resellers once the onboarding is completed. For instance, it is expected of the manager at a B2B tech company to train partners in implementing as well as selling the product. Remember, this is not a one-time process – every time a new update/version is rolled out, managers should train partners to keep up with the new features and capabilities.
This is really a no-brainer. Partners are the backbone of any affiliate, referral, or sales program, so the candidate you hire should be able to establish and maintain good professional relationships with them. Since managers are hired for a partner-facing role, their primary job description includes communicating and collaborating with partners. Excellent communication skills, interpersonal skills, and listening skills are essential to meaningfully engage with partners and establish long-term productive, and mutually beneficial collaborations.
It is not enough to hire highly qualified partner managers; you should also equip them with the right tools so that they can perform their tasks efficiently. Investing in a manager without investing in Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software could be a self-defeating activity. A robust PRM solution will enable managers to access the data and KPIs they need to make better decisions. With a PRM platform, they can keep track and catalog your company’s partner relationships, submit leads and referrals, and keep a track of all active deals. As a solution that simplifies onboarding, collaboration, training, and payout processes, a Partner Platform is essential for the success of your partner program.