Optimizing and Prioritizing for Early-stage Focus

Optimizing and Prioritizing for Early-stage Focus

This article was guest written by Shohei Narron, Technology Partner Manager at Google Cloud Read more about this series in this...

Updated: Mar 30

This article was guest written by Shohei Narron, Technology Partner Manager at Google Cloud

Read more about this series in this introduction article.

I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down and discussing how six alliances professionals responsible for various types of partnerships on how they measure success, and the road to to achieving it. As always, I’ll be posting one conversation per week for the next six weeks in the hopes of elevating partnerships within an organization, if not to just make everyone’s lives a little easier.

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Fabian Eckstrom-French

Head of Partnerships, Stensul

Background and context: “I was brought onto Stensul recently to start our partnership team from scratch. Prior to this role, I’ve led partnerships at several other MarTech organizations, but I still think being at a high-growth startup and building another avenue for revenue from the ground-up is the most exciting role.”

On the importance knowing what you want: “There isn’t a lot of information you can glean by looking at numbers if you don’t know what success looks like. In addition, if you don’t get your vision right at the beginning, you’d be wasting a whole lot of time trying to stand up a partnership organization without focus. The question of what your ultimate goal is is something you should be asking yourself every year — is what we’re doing still relevant? What else should we consider?

Goals will naturally change over time, but make sure you understand what you’re looking for in partnerships, and know that building a team based on sourced revenue is totally different from optimizing for new integrations.”

Optimizing and prioritizing for early-stage focus: “At early stage startups, I believe you should be evaluating and measuring partners on the following three metrics: strength of the joint value prop, ideal customer profile overlap, and partner enthusiasm. This helps prioritize on the right companies, since everyone wants to partner with everyone else in the MarTech space, and you just don’t have time for all of them. These three factors are mostly qualitative, but they’re critical when you’re starting from the ground up.

The joint value story will generally come anecdotally through early stage conversation via mutual customers. Once you have a feeling that the partner will fit the joint customer audience, sign an NDA and map your accounts to validate. You’ll start to see enthusiasm, or lack thereof from your partner counterparts throughout this process. Do they respond within minutes or the day, or do you have to chase them down? If you have partners with whom you share an audience, have a better-together story that your customers love, and you and your partner counterparts are excited about working together, that’s what early-stage success looks like.”

Weaving in metrics others care about: “‘What’s in it for me?’ is such a simple, yet important question to ask. In order to get other teams excited about the partnership function, you do need to understand how what you do feeds what other parts of your business does. For example, every single partnerships is a potential built-in content machine — partner involvement means lots more content and leads in new channels, which are exactly what Marketing teams look for. Partnerships also make it easier to close opportunities, and even bring new opportunities to Sales. These activities will naturally lead into pipeline, early traction, and better close rates. Keep tracking these activities as you start to work with other internal teams, and bring them on your side as your biggest allies.”

Crossing the early-stage to mid-stage chasm: “Pointing to your mutual customer list as the carrot to grow the partnership org can only bring you so much legitimacy. Though you’re not going to immediately see revenue in a B2B enterprise sales cycle, you’ll eventually need to show tangible business results within 6~12 months if you want to secure budget and increase your headcount, and 12~24 months for it to explode. Make sure you have a CRM as a source of truth as you grow to ensure proper tagging and tracking.”

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