The byproduct of SaaS companies transitioning to being Eco-led (vs being Sales-led) is a massive influx of partnership professionals in the workforce. This is particularly true at the IC level (>150k PMs/PAMs in SaaS alone) as partnership departments take on record revenue contribution expectations (up to 60-70%).
This begs the question: Who is going to train all these IC’s?
In contrast to sales professional training, which is largely established given its long history and the availability of powerful training resources & tools like Gong, Showpad, etc., training for partnership practitioners is still in its infancy.
The consequences of inadequate training for your partnership IC’s in a normal year would be grim, but in a down year could be catastrophic. You need your PMs/PAMs to deliver big results in 2023, and by offering them world-class training and mentoring, they just might do it.
Time to level up partnership IC's
Not quite convinced just how important it is to level up your partnership IC’s? Check out the results of this quick survey on how much Partnership Leaders would pay for ONE partnership IC to increase their productivity by 1.5-2x through training:
Yep, the stakes are high, and partnership leaders are scrambling to find best practices for onboarding and ongoing training of their partnership teams (I know because I’ve done plenty of scrambling myself).
Okay, so what are the challenges partnerships ICs face and what do they need training on?
An important first question, is to identify the big changes in recent years that have made training & mentoring so difficult (and important)?
Let’s examine the evolution of the Tech Partnership IC role as an illustrative example, which has experienced three major changes:
- Increased revenue expectations: switching from product & marketing-led OKRs (e.g., new integrations, install growth, NPS) to sales-led OKRs (pipeline added and closed) is a non-trivial transition, that is made increasingly difficult when considering the #1 method for generating revenue from partners is to generate revenue for partners, which requires an entirely different skill set & playbook (and could easily be its own full-time job!).
- Emergence of ParTech Tools: related to point #1, generating revenue to/from partners at scale can only be achieved through a mastery (yes, mastery) of modern ParTech tools (particularly account mapping software like Crossbeam and Reveal) that aid in connecting the bridge between insights → actions → results. Most partnership leaders (managers) don’t know how to use these tools yet, so how will IC’s learn?
- Increased cross-functional dependencies: as beautiful as it is for a company to transition towards becoming Eco-led (i.e., partnership strategy informing how all departments build & execute on company vision), it comes with the major challenge of establishing increasingly productive cross-functional teams that co-own OKRs. For the partnership IC, this means not only developing an understanding of the mechanics and inner workings of sales, success, marketing, product, and engineering (no small feat), but also building your persuasion and negotiation skills so you can fight to secure sufficient resources to fuel your mission.
Put another way, it is DAMN hard to be a successful Partnership IC in today’s climate. I made a post earlier this week attempting to summarize just how complex the partnership IC role is and made a call to leaders in my network to provide their best training tips. They did not disappoint (check the comments).
Fear not, help is on the way
In order for Partnership Programs to achieve Efficient, Predictable, and Scalable results (EPS), their ICs will need hands-on training that is not just conceptual (theory based), but rather extremely practical, actionable, and proven.
Fortunately, a growing number of world-class training programs are being developed for partnership professionals, across all roles and seniority levels (PARTNERNOMICS, SaaSy Sales Leadership, Firneo, and SEBS to name a few).
Here at Digital Bridge Partners, we will soon be launching our own GoToEco University training programs that are designed specifically for Tech Partnership ICs, to complement existing offerings (mentioned above) and serve as excellent “outsourced training” options for your partnership teams so they can hit quota faster and avoid plateaus.
We hope you are convinced that the path forward in 2023 is to ensure your teams receive the training and mentorship they need to unlock their full potential. We encourage you to tap into available resources (like those found at PartnerHacker) and communities (like Partnership Leaders) to engage with fellow practitioners who are likely struggling with similar challenges.
Best of luck in 2023; you know where to find us if you are interested in getting your teams trained up on best-in-class EcoOps and EcoTech!