Transitioning from Sales to Partnerships: Challenges & Opportunities

Transitioning from Sales to Partnerships: Challenges & Opportunities

Alexis Petrichos of Chili Piper discusses his transition into partnerships, resources that have been beneficial, and his advice for others.

Many partnerships leaders land in the industry by way of sales. In fact, Sales Development Representative is sometimes seen as an introductory role to becoming a Partnerships Manager. While experience in sales isn’t a requirement, it can be enormously beneficial when you’re first getting started in partnerships.

Today, Alexis Petrichos, a current Partnerships Manager at Chili Piper and former sales professional, joins us to discuss his transition from sales to partnerships, resources that have been beneficial, and his advice for others.

Meet Alexis

Alexis Petrichos partnerships career

Alexis Petrichos joined the Chili Piper team back in November of 2020 as a Senior Sales Development Representative before quickly transitioning to the partnerships team. Prior to joining the Chili Piper team, Alexis held a few different sales positions. “I entered the tech world about two years ago when I started as a Sales Development Representative at Workable. There, I was an outbound sales rep and my primary goal was to engage new business for Workable. I had other sales roles before that and was somewhat familiar with the responsibilities.”

After Alexis found his footing at Workable, he moved into an inbound sales role. “The main difference was I was the first point of contact for everyone wanting to purchase the software. I did intro calls to determine how they found us. I also occasionally handled mini demos and had opportunities to contribute to upselling. After consistently hitting my targets quarter after quarter, I was promoted to a Senior Sales Development Representative role. The main difference in that transition was being responsible for coaching new hires, which I consider a very important part of my career.”

It wasn’t long after getting promoted that Alexis came across Chili Piper when looking for resources to support his role. He would end up liking the tool so much he applied to join the team.

Sales as the Perfect Introduction to Partnerships

As partnerships have grown in popularity at tech companies, professionals are seeking out opportunities to advance their partnerships skillset. As it turns out, the key to success may be within another department. “I hear lots of SDRs asking me what the path is to partnerships or how to get into the industry building out partnerships themselves. In my experience, being a sales rep is probably the best entry role for the tech industry. The challenges you face are unique which provides a strong opportunity to build a business persona through your experience.”

Whether you want to go into partnerships or another role in technology, Alexis highlighted the value of getting sales experience first. “It’s a great first step into the tech world. I wanted to enrich my sales skillset and my experience has become the basis for my business profile. Everything I learned has been applicable in my current role, including the ability to communicate with customers or partners, understanding what they’re looking for, finding common ground, and connecting what you want to what they want.”

Facing Challenges Associated with Partnerships

Alexis was in a unique situation in his first partnerships role. Shortly after Alexis was promoted, Chili Piper’s VP of Partnerships and Strategy parted ways with Chili Piper. “I was suddenly the only person doing partnerships in a big business of 100 people. I was lucky enough to have our Director of Social Media & Community who helped build the partnerships department from scratch at Chili Piper on my side. Getting into a role without previous experience and having to build the program from scratch was challenging, but I feel super lucky to have been trusted by the team.”

Alexis took the challenge in stride and has been able to drive a significant impact in just a few months. “Now, I’m building processes, refining our vision, developing the tech stack, and hiring more people. My first few months were super challenging, but it is really rewarding to see all of this effort I’ve invested deliver value for the company. We’ve already started seeing revenue start coming from partnerships.”

Resources for Excelling in Partnerships

Becoming a Partnership Manager at Chili Piper was a brand new experience for Alexis. While his team was incredibly supportive, there were a few resources that helped ease the transition. “The Partnership Leaders community was super helpful to me. Besides that, I have a great relationship with our director who put a lot of trust in me. He was a great resource as were people from my previous job. Not every industry in the tech world has this connection. I feel we’re very well-connected.”

While Alexis’s situation was fairly unique, he shared some advice for others who may happen to find themselves in a similar role. “When you’re suddenly reporting to nobody and the person who promoted you left, try to connect your own research with the activities you do with the company. Work to define the role yourself. If you’re there, it means you’re smart enough. You’ll find lots of roadblocks. Break them all and define your role.”

Whether you’re looking to transition into partnerships from another role or you’re a seasoned partnerships professional, Partnership Leaders helps you connect with other professionals solving the same problems as you. Members enjoy an exclusive community of peers and mentors with whom they can discuss challenges and share advice.

Download the Partnerships Career Progression Playbook to get insights from professionals like Alexis on advancing a partnerships career.

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