Influencing Internal Stakeholders: Demonstrating the Value of Partnerships

Explore practical solutions to common challenges in convincing stakeholders, securing resources, and aligning departments to demonstrate the strategic value of partnerships.

This week, we had the pleasure of hosting our first Partnership Leaders Breakfast Club in London. We discussed a topic that many partnership professionals face time and again: influencing internal stakeholders and demonstrating the value of partnerships. With a diverse range of roles, industries, partnership types, and experiences around the table, we identified core challenges and shared experiences, learnings, and actionable ideas. We joked about writing a book with the amount of ideas discussed, and this article will cover some of that.

Challenge 1: Convincing Stakeholders of the Strategic Value of Partnerships

Many of us have either been the driving force behind a company’s partnership motion or worked in roles where partnerships aren’t entirely understood by the leadership team. So, how do we demonstrate the value and get the buy-in needed to make partnerships successful?

Key Issues

  • Short-Term Gains Over Long-Term Value: The C-suite often prioritises quick wins from direct sales over the long-term strategic value that partnerships bring. Their focus is usually on immediate revenue, and the concept of investing time and resources into partnerships that pay off later can be a tough sell.
  • Lack of Clear Definitions: There’s often confusion around what exactly a partnership is and how it benefits the company. Different types of partnerships—like strategic alliances, channel partners, and technology integrations—each have their own unique advantages. However, without clear definitions, it can be challenging to communicate their specific benefits effectively.
  • Misconceptions About Partnerships: Many stakeholders hold the misconception that partnerships slow down the sales process and dilute the efforts of direct sales teams. They may believe that partnerships complicate the sales cycle or even steal credit from the sales reps, which can lead to resistance in adopting a partnership strategy.


  • Build a Compelling Business Case: Use data to showcase key metrics like increased revenue, higher average contract value (ACV), deal velocity, close rate, reduced churn, and higher lifetime customer value. If the partnership function is brand new, leverage industry reports from Partnership Leaders for the latest figures.
  • Clearly Define Partnership Types: Align them with business objectives. It’s common for people to have worked with one partnership type before and be reluctant to try again, but each type has unique benefits that can support business goals.

Educate Stakeholders: Highlight the differences between direct sales and partnerships, emphasising the longer-term strategic value and potential for sustainable growth. While direct sales may be quicker to set up, partnerships can derisk the business and provide more sustainable long-term growth.

Challenge 2: Resource Allocation and Expectation Management

Partnerships often require a different kind of investment and patience compared to direct sales. However, many organisations struggle with unrealistic expectations for quick results and a constant battle for resources. How do we manage these expectations and secure the necessary support from internal teams?

Key Issues

  • Unrealistic Expectations: There’s a common misconception that partnerships will yield immediate results, similar to direct sales. While some partnerships can indeed deliver quick wins, the reality is that building a successful partnership function often requires time, effort, and a strategic approach. Patience is crucial in the initial stages.
  • Resistance from Product and Engineering Teams: Product and engineering teams may resist supporting partners because they don’t always understand the commercial impact. Metrics like close rates and increased revenue might not resonate with them. They need to see how their work contributes to business outcomes beyond just the numbers.
  • Competing Priorities: Within any organisation, there are always competing priorities, making it hard to secure focus and resources for partnership initiatives. Partnerships often end up under-resourced, and can be a constant battle to get the necessary allocation needed to succeed. Partnerships need the support of the entire business to thrive.


  • Explain the Runway Needed: Use historical data to set realistic expectations about the time required to see results from partnerships. If you don’t have internal data, speak to other members within Partnership Leaders and pull data from industry reports. This can help in setting the right expectations and getting buy-in from stakeholders.
  • Engage Product and Engineering Teams with Success Stories: Highlight success stories that show how contributions from product and engineering have led to successful deals. Emphasise the strategic importance of partnerships and how their work directly impacts business outcomes. While numbers may not be motivating for them, telling the story of the broader impact they have will resonate with them.
  • Build a Compelling Narrative: Use a combination of data and success stories to illustrate the long-term benefits and strategic importance of partnerships. Craft a narrative that not only highlights immediate wins but also paints a picture of sustainable growth and business stability that partnerships can bring. This can help in gaining priority over other initiatives.

Challenge 3: Effective Communication and Alignment Across Departments

To truly unlock the potential of partnerships, it’s crucial to have alignment across all departments. However, getting everyone on the same page can be a daunting task, especially when each department has its own goals and priorities. How do we ensure that partnerships are integrated into the broader business strategy and gain the necessary internal champions?

Key Issues

  • Aligning Partnership Goals: Each department, whether it’s sales, marketing, or engineering, has its own goals and objectives. It can be challenging to ensure that partnership goals are aligned with these various departmental goals. Without this alignment, partnerships may not be included in important conversations, leading to challenges around resource allocation and execution further down the line.
  • Lack of Internal Champions: Partnerships rarely interact directly with customers, which makes it crucial to have internal champions who do. Sales teams, in particular, play a vital role in advocating for partnerships. Without strong internal champions, it’s tough to gain the necessary support and momentum for partnership initiatives.
  • Justifying Partner Payments and Understanding Attribution Metrics: We could write an entire article about this point alone but there’s often confusion around partner-influenced versus partner-sourced deals, and how to handle payments and attribution. This can make it challenging to justify why partners should be compensated and how to measure their impact accurately.


  • Focus on a Single Department: Start by focusing on one department, such as sales, to build initial success. Create internal champions who can influence other departments. By showing tangible results and benefits in one area, you can more easily gain support and buy-in from other parts of the organisation.
  • Use Bottom-Up Champions: Demonstrate the effectiveness of partnerships through internal champions. When individuals within the organisation see their peers advocating for and succeeding with partnerships, it creates a groundswell of support. This bottom-up approach can be very effective in driving widespread adoption and support.
  • Establish Clear Definitions and Metrics: Clearly define what partnership attributions mean and use industry standards to justify partner payments. Regularly share success stories and key metrics to keep all departments engaged and aligned. This helps in building a shared understanding and appreciation of the value that partnerships bring to the table.

We came up with all of this in 45 minutes and I know there’s a ton more out there! By addressing some of these core challenges with specific solutions, we hope you will be able to effectively influence internal stakeholders and demonstrate the value of partnerships. Whether you’re working to gain buy-in from the C-suite, securing resources, or aligning departmental goals, the strategies discussed here can help you build a strong case for partnerships. Remember, the key is to use data, clear definitions, compelling narratives, and internal champions to showcase the strategic value of partnerships.

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This article was written by Eleanor Thompson (Branchworks) with contributions from Anna Matthews (Deskpro), Jonathan Pepper (VAT IT), Julio Azzini (Siteimprove), Maurits Pieper (Dixa), Mikhail Petrov (Xero), Pedro Gastal (Camunda), Rohit Malhotra (QTA), and Teddy Ludmer (Tipalti).

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