Attracting and recruiting partners to your partnerships program is an important start, but if you really want to level up your ecosystem-led business you need to ensure those partners are activated. Successful partner activation gets your partners excited about the operations, goals, and requirements of your partner program. Activated partnerships go beyond one-time sales and encourage full partner engagement in your program.
“Activating partners is absolutely vital to a successful partner program,” says Zak Pines, VP of Partnerships at Formstack. “If you’re bringing on partners but they’re not activated, there’s really no value,” he says, adding that a crucial step to growing a partner program is activation.
He shares that activated partners act as pillars for generating revenue by allowing you to foster better leads and joint opportunities. Plus, as your partnerships grow, you’ll be able to create pipelines together and progress those opportunities as well.
“Revenue is the North Star, but there are steps toward revenue,” he says. “These steps are part of the equation, part of the playbook to grow revenue with incremental success.”
Read on for some of Pines’ advice on creating focused goals that go beyond generated sales and conversions to help to further activate your partners and set your partnerships up for a win.
Goal: Understand and document joint use cases
If you want to drive more revenue, look at where you and your partner have already been successful and build from there. To get an accurate snapshot of the past, however, it’s important to document your activities. Pines says this is the foundation for how you jointly help end customers and grow revenue together.
“A partner working with you to do this is a great foundation to build from,” he says. “Who is our joint customer that we want to go and get 10, 20, or 30 more of? Identifying and documenting that joint win, promoting and enabling it across both partners is a nice source to incremental revenue.”
Related to that, Pines says it’s also important to identify repeatable use cases where two companies can help a customer. “That repeatable use case becomes a path for getting incremental customers,” he explains.
Want to take it even further? Pines offers up bonus points for those who use customer stories, as they can further jumpstart partner activation goals and generate more customers.
Goal: Set meaningful partner engagement milestones
When thinking about partnership engagement, set clear expectations. It’s crucial to know and define what types of engagement are meaningful to your partner and your company. If a partner is putting in effort that isn’t meaningful to your goals or marketing strategy, you won’t get the necessary traction for growth.
Once you know what you’re looking for from a partnership, step back and evaluate whether they’re delivering meaningful engagement to help grow your business.
“Are your partners taking the necessary steps?” poses Pines, adding that milestones could include things like:
- Submitting their partner directory listing
- Making internal introductions to colleagues to spark more collaboration
- Scheduling a lunch and learn to share your joint value proposition with a broader team
Goal: Get the word out about your partnership
When something is great, you want to shout about it from the mountaintops. Likewise, if you have a successful and activated partnership with meaningful engagement, your partners should be sharing it to further drive growth. Are they marketing the partnership and sharing about you externally? That could mean a blog post, a lunch brag with other potential partners, or a fireside chat with key clients or customers about how you work together.
“Share out initial success through a LinkedIn post or social media,” suggests Pines. “Or better yet, put on a joint webinar that you can co-promote.”
When your partner shares about your successful partnership and your wins, they’re creating a path for incremental customers, educational enablement opportunities. Creating win-win situations together can help drive qualified leads who like what they’ve seen from you and your partner.
Goal: Mutually improve the experience of your end customers
Successful partnerships are ones in which both sides bring value to the table. By laying out potential leads and other revenue-driving opportunities available to your partner, you can jumpstart collaboration and activity, says Pines. He recommends that partnership managers find ways to bring in new partners to an opportunity that creates mutual benefit.
“Look for customers whereby the joint value proposition will improve the value your customer or prospect gets from you, which will lead to greater utilization of your product as well,” he says. “This will also demonstrate to the partner how you can help customers and in turn give them ideas for their customers to sell to.”
This joint win can help reduce churn through deeper integration of your product. Pines also adds that it's a win-win-win because successful partnerships begin by looking internally to identify where you can bring in a partner and create a win for them, which they will hopefully in turn want to create for you.
As a final piece of advice, Pines reminds of the importance of checking in on partners so they don’t turn inactive. “For partners that you’ve worked with, ensure that you’re delivering successfully on initial customers and following up on how they’re doing. By doing that, they can then become champions for you,” he advises.