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The Top 9 Skills to Look For in a Partnership Manager

Are you planning to start or expand your partnerships team? Here are the top 9 skills to look for when hiring a partner manager to direct your partner programs.
9 Traits to Consider When Hiring a Partnership Manager
Published on
December 3, 2020


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 have a partner manager on board.

But, 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 9 skills to look for when hiring a professional to manage your partner programs.

What is a Partner Manager?

A partner manager is a person who collaborates with business partners to foster relationships and accomplish organizational objectives. They cultivate and maintain relationships with the company's partners in order to foster growth and increase revenue.

In order for their position to be effective, partnership managers require a variety of skills.

These skills cover a broad spectrum, from project management and negotiation to business development and communication.

Understanding these skills is critical to the success of any partner manager.

1. Partner Manager + Strategic Thinking Skills

Strategic planning is the ability to develop and achieve long-term goals for your business. This requires a deep understanding of the company's mission, vision, and values, as well as an understanding of its advantages and disadvantages.

Strategic planners are able to identify potential future opportunities and difficulties so they can plan accordingly.

A partner manager's primary responsibility is to strategize and guide your affiliate, referral, and sales programs, so it is critical that the candidates you consider 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, and Time-based.

Once implemented, the manager should also be able to readjust the strategy based on the results it yields.

2. Partner Manager + Data Analytic Skills

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. They will be required to assess the program's effectiveness, taking into account factors like:

  • Leads quality
  • Deals registered
  • Partner performance analytics
  • Costs per lead
  • CLV
  • Churn rate

From this information, they should be able to identify useful insights that can further guide your strategies.

3. Partner Manager + Coordination and Planning Skills

Coordination is the ability to organize and execute a variety of activities, actions, and plans simultaneously.

It looks at how well you can apply your attention to detail while considering how small aspects fit into a broader effort.

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.

He or she will assist partners with their deals, analyze partner results, take care of payouts and commissions, 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.

4. Partner Manager + Sales or Marketing Skills

Experience and expertise in sales or partner marketing are other qualities to look for in your partner manager. Here, you need to make a decision based on your partner's 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.

5. Partner Manager + Problem-Solving Skills

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.

6. Partner Manager + Training Skills

This is really a no-brainer; the candidate should have good training skills so that your partners are ready to get to work as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In most SaaS programs, 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 as well as sell 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.

Your partner manager needs to keep an eye on more than just product training.

They should also be able to provide sales coaching and training. Why? Because your brand is the expert on its product, you have probably observed what works and what does not. Your partner manager will provide them with a shortcut to promote or sell your product more effectively by sharing their knowledge and experience.

7. Partner Manager + People Skills

Partnerships are a people business.

Because of this, your partner manager must have the ability to communicate successfully with others. Active listening, conflict resolution skills, and acceptance of (and encouragement for) diversity in social and professional contexts are examples of people skills.

These skills are essential to meaningfully engage with partners and establish long-term productive, and mutually beneficial collaborations.

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.

8. Partner Manager + Relationship-Building Skills

Real and mutually productive relationships take time, effort, and consistency to develop.

Put people first if you want to create a strong community around your brand.

When it comes to partnerships, it stinks to put all your effort into negotiating a deal and then fail to follow through. You may have closed a deal, but your work is still far from done. In truth, it's only just begun!

That’s where a partner manager comes in. They’re responsible for maintaining your company's "relationships."

This means that they must get to know each partner. Not only so they can speak up for them internally and support their growth objectives but also so they can be that comforting voice for them on the other end of the phone.

9. Partner Manager +Technological Skills

Technology is a major component of the realm of strategic partnerships. For that reason, the fact that it is constantly shifting and altering shouldn't come as a surprise.

The finest partner managers are experienced in—or are willing to learn new skills to stay up with—technological advancements. They should also keep track of changes in software requirements to maintain the competitiveness of their brand's partner ecosystem strategy.

Equip Your Partner Manager With a PRM solution

Investing in a manager without investing in Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software could be a self-defeating activity.

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.

Kiflo's 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 catalogue your company’s partner relationships, submit leads and referrals, and keep 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.

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