Five steps to get your partner marketing plan to stick [video]

Your ability to get traction with a partner marketing plan has almost nothing to do with the length of a document and a lot to do with how many people and who built it. We’ve been working quite closely with a large vendor on building partner marketing plans over the last couple of years. I want to share with you a little of what we’ve learned today.

I’ve personally led the building of over 400 Go to market plans for vendors, and now in the last couple of years have led an initiative for the building of 500 Go to market plans or partner marketing plans for partners. What I’ve learned is that they’re a very different gig. The process can be the same, but how you apply the process needs to change quite markedly. We’ve got a number of things wrong in the doing of that, and we’ve learned a lot from that, and we got quite a number of things right as well. What I want to share with you today are the 5 steps we now believe to be most important to get traction in your partner marketing plan.

As I mentioned, we’ve been working with a major vendor on building partner marketing plans for about 500 companies. We’ve really used a fantastic process and executed really well. The sessions have been really well facilitated. I led a few of them, but we trained 60 people from within the vendor to lead those sessions as well, and we chose those people really well. They are already strong marketing or sales professionals, they are good at facilitation, and and they’ve got a lot of training, so I’m confident that we led the sessions extremely well, but traction’s been patchy. We’ve learned a few things you really need to get right and we didn’t always. Let me share with you the 4 most common errors that we saw being made.

Not having partner marketing in the room, and by that, I mean the marketing from the partner. There’s no point building a partner marketing plan if you don’t have marketing, and there’s no point in building it if you have marketing and they’re not in the room. Number 2. Not having sales in the room. Go to market planning in B2B is about marketing and sales together, and there’s simply no point building a plan that sales doesn’t buy into or input into because they know an awful lot about the market. Third error is not having the partner manager, that is the person responsible for relationship with the partner from the vendor, in the room at the same time. The fourth one is not having all 3 of them in the room together.

In fairness, we also got a lot right, and we’re getting a lot more right. The vendor is super-invested in creating confidence within their partner to build amazing Go to market plants. We’re invested with them as well, and so together we’re actually creating quite a good process. What I want to share with you now are the 5 steps that I believe to … I now believe, if you like, with the new experience of having executed this for a bit, the 5 steps that I believe now to be the most important to get traction in the execution of your partner marketing plan.

First step, just don’t confuse business planning and marketing planning. Every vendor on the planet asks their partners to commit a business plan, but the business plan is all about sales volume commitment and resource commitment. That’s got nothing to do with marketing. That’s all about a commitment from the partner to the vendor. You need a separate marketing or partner marketing plan that’s not your business plan. Point one.

Point 2. Skill your partner managers, that is the person who manages the relationship with the partner and your partners in a process. Clearly skill them in the same process, whatever the process is. You know that align.me has a great Go to market planning process, but my point is not about pitching that process. Just pick a process and skill them all in it.

Point 3. Build a plan together. Never, ever, ever ask the partner to fill in a form and submit it because firstly, they’ll do as little as they can get away. Secondly, you won’t be invested in it as the vendor. You need to build it together. Fourth. After the plan is built, identify all the actions that are needed from both sides, and step 5, review frequently.

Now, you want to review progress against actions separately from progress against results. That is, if your results are not where they need to be, they’re only not where they need to be because you haven’t done what you need to do, so you need to measure progress against the agreed actions separately from agreeing the results of those actions, and somebody needs to be leading that review process who knows the process. I think in a perfect world, that’s the partner manager. If you don’t have a partner manager really strongly skilled in this process, then you need an external person to take that role, but I don’t think that’s perfect.

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More great tips next week. Until then, may your funnel be full and always flowing.