Like any relationship, partnerships won’t thrive when they’re ignored—instead, they need to be nurtured over time by people who know what they’re doing. In a recent Partner School event, Scott Pollack (Firneo’s Co-Founder and CEO) spoke with e-Comas’s Head of Partnerships Pete du Pon about the topic of partner strategies.

Pete has over a decade of experience in e-commerce, including partnerships-related roles at OnBuy, InPost, and Optimizon. During his Partner School interview, Pete gave new partnerships pros valuable advice on learning about their employers, applying strategic thinking to the world of partnerships, and expanding their partnerships programs.

Understanding the Foundation

First, Pete explained why incoming partnerships leaders should start their partner strategy journey within their own companies. Since partnerships are inherently dynamic and each partnership structure is unique, he said these people should aim to gather as much information as they can about these relationships and their current value.

As part of this process, new partnerships pros can consider the depth of their company’s relationships with its partners, whether or not any formal agreements or mutual contracts are in place, and the level of existing communication. Pete also said a thorough evaluation of internal resources (including marketing support, budget, and tech infrastructure) is a must before moving on to external partner engagement.

Defining Value for Businesses and Individuals

Pete then explored the need to define “value” not only at an organizational level but also for individual team members. Along with that, he encouraged partnerships leaders to align partnerships with the goals of different teams, such as account managers, marketing, business development, sales, finance, and product teams.

Partnerships can address specific needs and create value at a personal level, but they can’t live up to their full potential unless the partnerships teams responsible for them have full internal buy-in. With that in mind, Pete stressed the importance of empathy in garnering support and collaboration from significant stakeholders.

Strategic Thinking in Partnerships

Next, Scott and Pete discussed the challenges tied to prioritizing partnerships. Pete advocated for a disciplined approach, emphasizing the importance of strategic partnerships that align closely with defined goals. 

In keeping with this mindset, Pete advised partnerships leaders to avoid chasing every partnership opportunity they see. Instead, he encouraged these professionals to focus on engagements offering the most potential value in terms of lead generation, marketing, events, and revenue growth.

Building the Ideal Partner Profile

At this point, Scott posed a crucial question—“How do you strike a balance between maintaining existing partnerships and creating new ones?” Pete emphasized the importance of developing a “sixth sense” over time, drawing on experience to better understand the historical performance of partners in a specific space. By honing this skill, partnerships pros will be more likely to find new partners that fit their employers’ needs.

He also noted that no two partnerships are alike—and the same is true for partnerships leaders, since different people in this field will bring different perspectives and priorities to the table. The key takeaway: an ideal partner profile is not crafted in a vacuum but evolves through experimentation and experience.

Quick Wins vs. Long-Term Goals

The topic of “quick wins” and their relationship with long-term goals is widely discussed in partnerships circles. Pete acknowledged the need for short-term gains in specific scenarios, such as showcasing progress and proving the effectiveness of a partnerships strategy.

However, he noted that partnerships are generally a long-term endeavor; these relationships are meant to grow and evolve, which takes a certain amount of time. Ultimately, a partnerships leader’s decision to focus on immediate priorities or long-term objectives will vary from one partnership to the next based on each partnership’s predefined goals.

Evolving Partnership Strategies

Scott and Pete then delved into the evolution of partnership strategies over time. Pete talked about how data can showcase what is working in a partnership and what isn’t. Partnerships leaders can use these numbers to measure leads, revenue, and other key performance indicators. He also noted that being ready to adapt to change (both internally and within partner organizations) is a crucial aspect of taking partnership strategies to the next level.

Eventually, your program may hit a point where it needs additional resources to continue its upward trajectory. According to Pete, partnerships leaders can advocate for this support by demonstrating the impact of their partnerships. Then, they should work to convince leaders that the organization could handle a larger partner ecosystem with added resources.

Building Your Partnerships Game with Firneo

Developing a successful partner strategy requires a nuanced understanding of one’s organization, the ability to prioritize new and existing partnerships, and a plan for the future. Pete du Pon’s insights offer a valuable guide for partnerships leaders navigating the ever-evolving landscape of this emerging industry. As organizations continue to invest in partnerships, these foundational principles can serve as a roadmap for building lasting and fruitful collaborations.

Of course, building a rock-solid partnership strategy can be a challenge for even the most experienced people in this field. There’s a reason for that: many partnerships pros “fall into” the industry, and they don’t always get the guidance they need to build a strong foundation of knowledge early in their careers. If that sounds familiar, Firneo can help—sign up for our Mastering Partnerships Strategy program today!

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