Partner Recruitment is often a later stage game for 'mature' programs that realize they either need more partners fast or have a significant influx of interest they are not managing poorly.
It's a shame because a solution built around tech you likely already have in place is really not that complicated. In fact... I'm going to show you how I would tackle in this article. That's right - the fancy title up top is not just for show.
The main idea driving this solution is that your Partner Recruitment efforts should align with your GTM rhythm. If you use Leads, use Leads and conversion tools. If you use Accounts, lean into ABM models. Don't make it harder than it has to be.
This example is built around ABM but the ideas can just as easily apply to Leads because all the pieces of the puzzle live in Salesforce. It's just a matter of how you put them together.
Ready? Let's go.
Salesforce does not have any native support rhythms for Partner Recruitment (or anything else Partnership for that matter). If you're reading this post you already know this. The good news is that it doesn't take that much to stand up a solution depending on how complex you want to make it.
1. You're using Salesforce CRM (though I'm reasonably sure you can borrow the concepts for Hubspot as well).
2. Willingness to use 'Accounts' as a focus point for activity and engagement (although this works on Leads as well).
3. Use of Partner specific Account record type and Partner Lightning page layouts
4. 30-90 minutes to configure the base solution depending on skill/process
Recruitment with ABM model
Account Based Marketing is all the rage these days. Companies are abandoning the use of 'Leads' as a focus and instead looking at 'Accounts' in a more holistic form. Companies like Demandbase and 6sense are now critical tech in that approach, but we're more concerned about how the model impacts architecture.
After all, if your team is not looking at 'Leads,' meaning they never actually open or interact with lead data, it doesn't make a lot of sense to use 'Leads' for Partner Recruitment either.
Implementation of Account Path
- If you don't already have it, add a pick-list field on the Account object called 'Partner Prospect Status' and add the appropriate options for your rhythm. Phases might include: Prospect, Target, Contacted, In Process, Signed, No-Go.
- Add a new 'Path' on the Account Object (Setup > Path) called 'Partner Prospecting' and associate it to the Partner Account record and the new 'Partner Prospect Status' field you just created.
- On the Lightning page layout for the Partner Account Page Layout, add the Path component somewhere near the top of the layout for easy visibility.
- In the 'Set Component Visibility' settings, set the filters on the Path Component to only show up when the status is in an active recruitment cycle. It’s a nice visual cue for anyone looking at the account that it’s…. well…. In process for recruitment.
- Build a new 'View' on the 'Accounts' object to highlight the in-funnel Prospects. Bonus: Use a Kanban view to provide a working rhythm to visibility. Note that this is filtered to 'All Accounts', and you may want to filter to 'My Accounts' for individual work effort.
- Set up some validations and/or flows to keep your 'Partner Prospect Status' field aligned with your 'Partner Status' field. Data is only as good as it is clean. Keeping these fields aligned will ensure your team is following some kind of actual process. There are a few ways you could do this.
Dependencies: Set the 'Partner Prospect Status' field as a controlling field for 'Partner Status.' Hide the 'Active' partner status levels until the 'Partner Prospect Status' is shifted to 'Signed' (or whatever value you determine).
Validation Rule: Okay, listen.... I'm not great at writing these up because I've been spoiled with great Sales Op talent over the years. Also... I really hate validation rules. Seriously... who wants to be stopped AFTER YOU'VE DONE THE WORK to be told it was wrong? Still... it's an option. Write up a validation to make sure the values are aligned properly and drive your team nuts with errors until they figure it out. Or don't and be a hero. Whatever.
Flows: The least intrusive method on the list - automate the value exchange. If 'Partner Prospect Status' is shifted into 'Signed' you can automate the 'Partner Prospect Status' to shift into an 'Active' state. You can conversely ensure any shift into a 'Prospect' state moves the status into 'Prospect' as well. And, if you're REALLY into it, you can add a flow to note when the account becomes Dormant due to lack of recent activity. That's another conversation, though.
Check out the Loom below to get a visual - and with that, you're done!
Some programs include a fee for joining - a minimal barrier for buy-in meant to defer low-value partners from signing up. Tracking this in Opportunities is just logical. Even if you don't, there's value in adopting a custom Opportunity record type to help improve visibility into recruitment.
- The custom opportunity can be triggered for creation from 'Partner Prospect Status' settings and then used to manage the actual process for closing a new partner. This should be familiar - it's the same thing you do for Customers.
- The new record type is easier to split out of core opportunity reporting and easier to build reports around.
- Staging provides a higher-level overview of your recruitment process and you may automatically get to take advantage of any date stamping programs running in the background, depending on how they are built. Start to answer questions around time-to-value, onboarding processes, etc.
- You can leverage signing tools, etc., often already tied to opportunity management.
Implementing the Opportunity
- Add Custom Opportunity Record Type for Partner Recruitment
- Add a custom page layout for the new record type
- Add the fields to the layout relevant to your Partner closing efforts (really up to you here)
- Go crazy and tie in a signature process (or save that for phase 2)
- Deploy to the appropriate users
So now you've got the Account flow for overall prospect status and the Opportunity for managing the actual closing processes.
All good? Let's call it a wrap!
The model we've just covered is pretty basic in terms of key elements for managing your workflow, but it's also really focused on outbound recruitment.
What about inbound? Don't we need a PRM to manage applications?
Yeah... you could get a PRM or some other tool to manage inbound. Or you could leverage the tools you probably already have in place.
- Website: Set up a landing page for Partners to express interest. Drop some details about your program.
- Marketing Forms: Talk to marketing ops and get an inbound form setup for your fancy new (or refurbished) landing page. Keep it simple to start with minimal fields to keep blockers down. Drive that form into your CRM through your existing marketing rhythm. You may eventually want to create more for targeted campaigns down the road.
- CRM Workflow: Work with RevOps/SaleOps to make sure the inbound form submission results in a notification back to the potential partner. You'll also need one for your Partner Manager/team, either in-system, email, Slack... whatever you've got set up.
- Lead Routing: Lean into tools and work with RevOps to make sure the submissions end up where they need to. And yes, I know we covered 'Accounts' but the lead object is still a routing engine for the overall process in most cases. It will likely end up with a new Account and Contact, with the Partner Prospect Status = New Prospect or something along those lines.
Okay.... so now we have three new pieces working together with existing sales tech to create a relatively 'seamless' Partner Recruitment rhythm.
- Inbound process for potential partners from the website.
- Account model with rhythm management via new Path settings.
- Opportunity tracking for deal process tied to closing a new Partner.
From here, your team can add all the fluff-and-stuff that makes it feel 'complete' like automated notifications, in-system guidance on the path settings, contracting templates, signature processes... whatever you want.
And with that, we are really, truly, done.
Prefer to listen? Check out the Behind the SaaS podcast here: