Gaining cross-department buy-in to partnerships is critical to the success of any partner program. Without their buy-in, you will be on an island with limited resources and make little progress driving impact.
And, it’s not surprising to anyone that partnerships can bring value to almost every part of your business. For a quick refresher, here are a few ways partners bring value across almost every function:
- Sales: partners might sell your product or service
- Marketing: partners might promote or co-market your offering, expanding your reach.
- Service: partners might be implementation experts or offer ongoing services to your customers, alleviating your support team.
- Product: partners are a huge source of knowledge and feedback that can help your product team make key decisions on the direction they bring the product
My suggestion is to prioritize starting with the organizations that align closest to your goals and will create the largest impact, before expanding into other organizations. In the sections below, I’ll outline the core teams you might be considering having a partnerships conversation with, along with tips for how to engage them.
Before prioritizing a list of teams to engage, ask yourself some of these questions:
- Why would I want to work with that team?
- What value would they bring me to help me drive towards my goals?
- Why would they want to work with partnerships?
- What value would partnerships bring to their team to support their goals?
One team I’ve had a lot of success getting buy-in from is our sales team. Answering my questions from above, I knew I wanted to work with this team because a core part of our partnership strategy is to scale through partners by selling more of our product.
In particular, co-selling is a huge part of that selling strategy. So we knew we’d need their buy-in or risk channel conflict.
For the sales team, the value our partnerships brought them was:
- Leveraging a partner to co-sell a deal to help accelerate the deal by bringing expertise across industry verticals, complex implementations, and larger customers.
- Leveraging partner content and collateral, which they can use to send to prospects -- providing a 3rd party perspective.
Tips for engaging and gaining the sales team’s buy-in:
- Educate them on the value partners bring them
- Share partner-written case studies and collateral your organization hasn’t produced (ex. Industry vertical case studies). By giving value before extracting it, you’ll set yourself up for success.
- Co-selling value: find recent wins where a partner helped a rep accelerate a deal or increase ASP. Once a rep sees that a partner can help them achieve their goals, they’ll be more receptive to working with them.
- Create training in partnership with sales enablement on “what partnerships are and how they can help drive sales”
- Top-down support from sales leadership
- The more buy-in you can get from the top, the better. Share wins with their leadership team and they’ll eventually prioritize partnerships more.
Another great team to ensure you have buy-in from is your broader marketing team. This might be easier if your partnerships team sits under the marketing org, but regardless, we’ve got some tips for how to approach them.
The value partnerships bring my marketing team falls into:
- Expanding the reach of our messaging and campaigns -- especially around a launch
- Driving leads
- Being featured as subject matter experts within our core marketing content
- Providing feedback on messaging to product marketing
Tips for getting their buy-in:
- Align with your marketing team’s campaigns and drive programming that supports it. You may need to show and tell vs just simply telling them. Run a webinar featuring a partner that supports their campaign goals, and if it goes well, they’ll start seeing the value.
- Get partners to create content that supports your launch. At HubSpot, we often have a CTA for our partners to publish content for new feature launches and to drive their own campaigns. Then we take that content and share it with the broader marketing team (especially leadership) to show them that partners are adding value beyond our core organization.
- Proactively advocate for embedding partners as SMEs into core content. If your marketing team is organizing a webinar or creating a marquee interactive eBook, surface some ideas for how a partner can be a value-add to them.
- Guest blogging! If your content team is underwater with content creation, many times partners are willing to guest post and create content for them.
There are so many other teams that can benefit from partnerships and could be key to engaging if they happen to support your partnership goals and objectives. At the end of the day, showing teams the value partnerships bring them to support their own goals will be the easiest way to gain their buy-in.
So, identify their goals, and find ways that partnerships align and support those goals. Then you’re off to a great start.