Inspire a Partner-Centric Culture from the Top Down
Partner-centric organizations are a competitive differentiator
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According to a 2019 study conducted by Forrester Consulting, organizations with mature partner programs drive 2x faster revenue growth than companies with less mature programs. Companies that recognize the significance of partnerships and their impact on business outcomes share the same goals across all groups and leverage best practices across every function. At the same time, these companies are more likely to commit the resources necessary for partner success.
So how do you become a partner-centric organization? It starts with breaking down internal silos by delivering results that make life easier for all stakeholders. This can be done by clearly articulating the value of a partnership, ensuring that co-workers understand how partner success can contribute to their goals, and consistently communicate successful collaborations.
Articulate Your Value
Before you start to assess how you can work with individual teams from different departments, it is important to review your value proposition. Identify the pillars of your partner program and how they align with your organization’s priorities for revenue, customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer experience to build a strong value proposition.
To build a strong value proposition, you need to make sure that it is:
Clear - easy to understand
Concise - keep it as long as it needs to be and no longer
Relevant - explain the results achieved by collaborating
In most instances, you’ll have to validate your value proposition with your leadership team before you start to work with individuals from other teams. By having a strong value proposition already prepared, you’ll be able to keep a sales-minded approach and always be ready to share your value.
Give Them What They Need to Succeed
When other teams start to care about partnerships and attribute it to their success, you're one step closer to a partner-centric culture. So how do you get to this point? It's easy to think that just because everyone works for the same company, they're all willing to pitch in to help. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. According to Crossbeam's Partner Playbook, 61% of partnership professionals surveyed struggle to gain additional internal resources.
In many cases, individual and team KPIs and compensation plans will have nothing to do with partnerships. As a result, you will need to demonstrate that what you're working on is relevant and can positively contribute to their success.
Here are some examples of KPIs that may exist in your organization:
Sales - Revenue, funnel activity, incentives
Product - Delivery on time, team velocity, product usage, feature engagement, feature release, support ticket
Customer Success - Retention rate, product adoption, churn, new or upsell revenue
Marketing - Cost per lead, metrics on website traffic (unique visits, marketing qualified leads from website conversions, conversion per site visit, conversion by source)
Once you've outlined the KPIs, determine the internal tools currently used by the team and reduce buy-in friction by ensuring that the delivery of your contribution is compatible. For example, if your AEs use a specific CRM tool, make sure to input partner activities within the same application.
Understanding what and how teams approach their business goals will help you give them the resources they need to succeed. By being a good organizational citizen, you will ultimately pave the way for additional support when you need it in the future.
Knowing how people want to be recognized at work is key to their engagement and support. In 2019, Deloitte published a study, "The Practical Magic of Thank You" that suggests that 54% of employees surveyed valued a "Thank You" as a preferred recognition for day-to-day accomplishments. Of the employees surveyed, 49% appreciated a public method of recognition. If you cannot communicate your wins publicly, social proof can provide the impact that you need to recognize a successful collaboration.
Some examples of recognition are:
Customer success - user recordings, partner testimonials, marketplace reviews
Product - the excitement around upcoming feature
Revenue - testimonials from superstar AEs that can attribute wins that were partner sourced or partner influenced
In my current startup, we have an internal recognition that the leadership team announces thru our workplace communication tool when new partners join the partner program. We use the opportunity to recognize all employees who play a role in ensuring our partners have been certified.
Depending on the type of partner, our leadership team will highlight individuals from the product, sales, marketing, or customer success teams. I also follow up with a second communication via email that recognizes the partner team member for their contribution. By sharing internal or external validation, you're demonstrating positive proof of the value that partnerships can contribute to business goals.
Regular meetings to determine support for all parties involved and consistent recognition to back up your vision will go a long way in building a partner-centric mindset. When the goal is to walk across the hall to ask for additional resources, it's essential that you start with the value you can provide, what business goals exist, and how partnerships are relevant to addressing the goals.
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