New Partnerships Managers, What should your first 3-month quota be?

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I sincerely feel for the new #partnerships managers starting their jobs in Q4 and under a lot of pressure to produce during an economic downturn + end of fiscal year...

I just left a call with a new Partnerships Manager who has a heavy quota this quarter... And doesn't believe it's achievable. 

He asked me:

"What would you tell your boss about your high quota if you were in my shoes?"

His options: 

  1. Say nothing, put his head down, and hope 🤞 he hits it. 
  2. Walk away - start the job hunt.
  3. Have a serious conversation with them about expectations and partnership strategy.

The REAL issue with not saying anything and attempting to hit (aside from the risk of not hitting), is that the pure effort of pushing new or stale partners to send you referrals right away is going to put you into the "Sales Zone" (think "friend zone" when you want to be more than that...), and you will soon have a hard time getting them to reply to emails or jump onto calls. 

You HAVE TO BRING VALUE before you can start making requests. 

Stereotypical CEO's reading this would think; 

"Our product is in demand, so that is the gift we're giving these partners. And plus, we're paying them a commission."

The issues with this mindset are: 

  1. The product being demanded by a shared audience is the minimum requirement just to even think about a partner program. 
  2. Your commissions don't matter. They are a "non-starter" for a new partnership discussion.

Partner teams have to create something entirely new - above and beyond the product offering - which has its own intrinsic value... before they can start activating partners. 

A stereotypical CRO would have a mindset along the lines of: 

"All of our departments have to pay for themselves. So we need ROI from partnerships quickly in order to spend more resources on it next quarter." 

While this is correct... Here's the problem: 

  1. Similar to how a new content strategy can take months to bear fruit, partnerships can take 6 months to a year to become ROI. That's because they are each small businesses that need to be established and enabled. 
  2. Much of the return from partner operations is under non-revenue KPIs like pipeline speed, the success of new features, the reach of content that partners were a part of... Event attendance... MQLs... 

Good things take time. And that is a tough pill for any CRO or CEO to swallow. 

So, my answer to this Partner Manager was: 

"Tell your bosses this: I'd like to focus on re-activating current partners and planting net-new partner seeds by focusing on creating more opportunities for them.
I need our partners to view me and this department as a value-add and a conduit to their success.
I'll need some buy-in from leadership and marketing, but I believe I can reactivate 50% of our inactive partners, and find 20 new partners by the end of the year. If we look at our per-partner revenue expectations, that will net us ___ by the end of next year. And, in the meantime, I have researched free tech and other resources I can use to save us thousands... I will also source a ton of content with partners to increase our exposure. I will put together awesome events with them, and introduce the top expert partners to our product team so they can positively-influence our roadmap."

And you can always tell them:

"Roddy Smith from Rewind says that; We need to treat partnerships like a bank account! Deposit before you withdraw."
(follow Roddy Smith and The Partner Programs CollectivePartnerhub®)

Then ask: 

"Based on my research and committment to creating a lean and successful partner program for our company, I'd ask that you change my 3-month quota into a 6-month quota."

If they are not in agreement... run 🏃🏻


Free resources for your team: 


Some replies on that LinkedIn thread that can also be useful ammo for you: 

Wonderful advice. I’ve also seen partner managers deliver on these types of promises, yet they still don’t unearth any additional budget to expand what they’ve proven to be successful.
Recommendation: Tie automatic budget increases to performance, get that agreement memorialized, and make it your North Star or personal flywheel.
- Alexander J. Buckles
Can’t agree more Alex 🇺🇦 Glenn. I strongly believe that at the very least a partner should get access to the product without having to pay. The more they will use it and like it, the more feedback on the product you’ll get, the more they’ll hopefully enjoy it and be active promoters of it.
- Cedric Charpenet

Great advice Alex 🇺🇦 Glenn it's definitely not an outbound firehose of customers overnight. You need to internally over communicate the value, outlook and set clear expectations ongoing what partnerships can offer the business now, and ahead.
- Bryan Williams


I hope this was helpful!

In partnership,