What to look for in your ideal partners
Many leaders, especially revenue-focused executives, have asked me:
What should our ideal partner look like? What are the main traits that a company must meet for us to establish a GTM alliance?
I fire off:
- You need to look for a company that has an established customer base,
- has a solid sales organization,
- can run co-marketing campaigns,
- has an engineering team that can deliver solutions,
- has cultural fit with your own,
- and will allow you to scale!
While they take notes and try to digest everything I’ve said, I finish with,
...but you will never find that because that partner does not exist.
The dilemma that I’ve wrestled with over the past ten years is that there is not a single organization that can meet all your success criteria.
In one extreme, you will find tech-savvy partners. They wow your customers but don’t deliver.
They don’t have a significant customer base or even have a marketing team.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, some partners have great teams with pre-sales, marketing, and BDR teams – but are not that interested in partnering with you.
The path forward: balance
The trick to finding the right partner is to stop focusing on finding the unicorn that can do it all.
Focus on building a balanced partner ecosystem.
With a balanced partner portfolio, your organization can work towards:
- Enabling alliances that help close gaps in GTM efforts.
- Allowing service subcontracting to help out when running behind.
- Hiring marketing agencies to help run campaigns for your partners.
- Fostering collaboration among ISV+service partners.
Build a team
Just like a football team, with players that run offense and defense, your partners will play specific roles for your organization.
You need everyone working together. Each partner plays a specific role. Your role is to understand the capabilities each alliance brings.
You must set the right expectations. Don’t force an unnatural motion on the partners in your ecosystem.
Recruit and incentivize
There are two key initiatives your team should focus on to get things rolling:
(a) Building a partner recruiting strategy.
(b) Creating a partner incentive structure.
You don’t want to waste resources going after alliances that won’t fit your goals. You want to clearly understand what you will be getting from those companies as a partner.
If you are lucky enough to get attention from a company for a potential partnership, you must be ready to deliver a message that will resonate with them.
A pitch that focuses only on trivial product features such as customer logos will not be enough to convince anyone to launch a meaningful partnership.
Creating partner incentives
Getting results will not happen overnight. Signing a partnership agreement will not generate forward momentum.
Incentives are a great tool to steer your partners in the right direction.
The most common incentives out there for GTM partners include:
- Resell margin
- Deal registration rebates
- Marketing development funds
- Sales SPIFFs
- Quota accelerators
Don't go chasing unicorns
Don’t chase after unrealistic partnerships.
Make sure you understand what value the partnership can bring to the table. Map your organization’s overall objectives.
Then, be ready to pitch a partnership proposal. Recruit and incentivize partners by addressing their specific needs.
When you understand the needs of your partnerships ecosystem, you allow it to flourish.
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