How to Land Your First Role in Partnerships

How to Land Your First Role in Partnerships

Interested in finding your first role in partnerships? Discover how to get started here.

Partnerships — also known as alliances, ecosystem management, and channel sales — is a growing function at the world’s most successful tech companies. Partnerships combine sales, marketing, and product elements to create a new way for organizations to grow exponentially in multiple facets.

This strategy is exactly what it sounds like — forming partnerships with other companies to create an offering better than one you’d have alone. However, partnerships are anything but simple and can take on many forms, from marketplace partnerships, agency partnerships, tech partnerships, and more.

Professionals in partnerships may take on various roles, often wearing multiple hats and interfacing directly with all departments in an organization. Individuals with experience in sales, marketing, and product development can find joy in a partnerships career.

As partnerships have become essential for organizations to stay relevant in the market and grow successfully, careers in the function have become increasingly lucrative. The average compensation for a professional in partnerships is $167,141 as of 2022, with significant opportunities for growth.

What Opportunities Exist in Partnerships?

Partnerships are especially prominent at technology and SaaS companies, but agencies and even direct-to-consumer product organizations are beginning to invest in alliances. As a result, we anticipate partnerships will soon be a mainstay for organizations of all kinds.

Part of the joy of partnerships and alliances is the wide variety of opportunities in the industry. For example, you may choose to focus on partner marketing, partner operations, and channel sales. The initial hire will likely manage many of these roles. Meanwhile, larger organizations with established programs can leverage team members for each function.

Partner Management

Partner Managers or Alliances Managers are responsible for attracting and maintaining relationships with partners. Typically, this involves reaching out to new partners and qualifying their organization. After a partner is qualified, you’ll work together to develop a joint value proposition and establish goals on either side of the relationship. In organizations with brand new partner programs, this role will most likely report to Sales.

Depending on your organization, bringing on new partners will likely include a few months of onboarding with training and enablement sessions. This time is used to get both teams up to speed and establish how you can work best together.

Once your partner is onboarded and activated, you’ll be responsible for the ongoing management of the account, including meeting with their team regularly, providing support where needed, and helping to nurture deals.

Many new professionals will start their career in the industry as a Partner or Alliance Manager and then may choose to niche down into a discipline from there or progress to Director of Partnerships.

Browse Open Partner Management Roles

Partner Marketing

Partner Marketing roles tend to be available at larger organizations with established partner programs and teams. In this role, you’re responsible for supporting partner marketing efforts and may report to Partnerships or Marketing.

Partner Marketers get to work closely with partners to develop joint go-to-market strategies and campaigns. Often called co-marketing, these efforts can include various techniques, such as ebooks, webinars, blog posts, and more.

Browse Open Partner Marketing Roles

Channel Sales

Channel Sales roles are similar to Partner Managers in that you work closely with partners to develop and convert your pipeline. Typically, this role is more sales-focused, emphasizing nurturing and closing prospects over maintaining partnerships. 

Often, Channel Sales professionals coordinate with existing partners and the sales team to identify new opportunities and close open deals faster. Individuals in this role may report to Partnerships or Sales depending on the organization’s layout.

Browse Open Partner Sales Roles

Partner Operations

Partner Operations is the most technical partnerships role, often focused on the backend of partnerships. This role typically reports to Partnerships and optimizes partner processes and systems. In this role, an individual must deeply understand the role of partnerships at the organization and how partnerships interfaces with other departments.

Partner Operations roles typically only exist at organizations with established partner programs and are very important. These roles ensure the partner team is efficient in their workflows, use of technology, and effectively leveraging accurate data.

This role demands a deep understanding of workflow operations, efficient processes, and partner technology. Ideal professionals will typically have a data-focused background, a passion for process improvement, and extensive experience using CRMs.

Which Skills Are Required to Land a Role in Partnerships?

partner program planning

Specific skills for partnerships will vary depending on the role, the organization, and the maturity of the partner program. However, soft skills tend to be much more important to hiring managers.

Successful professionals are:

  • Relationship builders. Partner professionals must build strong relationships with partners and internally with other departments.
  • Strong communicators. Especially in our remote world, partner professionals must be skilled at communicating via various channels, including email, Slack, and video conferencing.
  • Empathetic. Partnerships are the most successful when you can help your partners achieve their goals. Putting yourself in your partners’ shoes and prioritizing their needs above yours is essential.
  • Innovative. Partnerships is still a relatively new discipline. Partner programs that drive the most success are creative and don’t worry about following the rules.
  • Skilled researchers. It won’t always be easy to find all the answers in partnerships. Often, you’ll need to dig to find what you’re looking for.

What Resources are Valuable for Professionals Entering Partnerships?

As a budding partner professional, you’re not alone. As partnerships have grown more prominent in recent years, resources have become more abundant. Thankfully, partnership professionals are incredibly happy to share their learnings as we’ve found a rising tide lifts all boats.

Partnerships Career Progression Playbook

Our Partnerships Career Progression Playbook takes a deeper dive into the top roles in partnerships, including Partner Manager, Director of Partnerships, VP of Partnerships, and Chief Business Officer. The playbook also explores necessary skills for each position, steps required for progress, and the typical career path of a partnerships professional.

Industry Blogs & Podcasts

These are some of our favorite blogs and podcasts to learn best practices in partnerships, tips from industry experts, and stay updated on the latest trends.

Partnership Leaders Job Board

When you’re ready to start looking for a partnership role, be sure to check out the Partnership Leaders Job Board. Use the job board to browse opportunities and publish your resume as a job seeker to be matched with roles that meet your needs. 

How Can You Get Ready for Your First Role in Partnerships?

Partnerships is an incredibly lucrative function for technology companies and professionals alike. Individuals with backgrounds in sales, marketing, and customer success find fulfillment in partnerships, and you can too.

Over 700 partnerships professionals have joined the Partnership Leaders community to ask questions, share insights, and network. Once you land your first role in partnerships, you can apply to join Partnership Leaders. In the meantime, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on all things partnerships, alliances, and ecosystems.

Join The 1700+ Leaders Transforming Partnerships

As a member of Partnership Leaders you will:
  • Build and learn with the top partner people at the best companies around the world.
  • Increase your impact and accelerate your career with proven resources, tools, and best practices.
  • Grow a network of peers, partners, and advisors with common objectives.

Apply for a membership here!

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