In the partnerships industry, counting closed deals is an easy way to measure success—but focusing exclusively on this statistic can be misleading. After all, partnerships leaders also have to do a substantial amount of work after the ink dries to ensure that their newly-established partnerships run smoothly.

For today’s Partner School article, Firneo Co-Founder and CEO Scott Pollack spoke with Philip Low, the current Head of Sales for Kittl and Codat’s former Head of Partnerships. Their conversation shed light on critical strategies that can help industry professionals maximize the long-term potential of their partnerships.

Signing a Partnership Deal: The Beginning, Not the End

At the start of the conversation, Philip noted that signing a deal is just the beginning of the partnership journey. While this accomplishment comes with palpable excitement, it also marks the starting point for a series of strategic moves and collaborative efforts. 

Thus, Philip said partnership leaders must look beyond traditional milestones such as closing deals. Instead, these people need to understand that the real value of their partnerships lies in what happens post-signature.

Identifying Overlapping Accounts

Philip went on to introduce the significance of identifying key accounts in partnerships. By utilizing specialized tools designed for people in the industry, partnerships leaders can pinpoint overlapping clients and prospects (ideally before a deal is signed). This, in turn, will help them lay the groundwork for successful collaborations.

When they do this work, partners will also have an opportunity to create case studies that resonate with account executives (AEs). That means this approach can deepen existing client relationships and act as a powerful testimonial for future prospects.

How to Handle Compensation and Pricing

Another central point of Scott and Philip’s discussion was the importance of avoiding detrimental effects on team dynamics while bringing new partners into the mix. Scott emphasized the need to ensure that AEs are not cut out of the picture. Philip added that organizations might need to overpay both their partners and their AEs in the short term, as doing so is crucial for long-term partnership benefits.

Philip also looked at the significance of rate cards and pricing segmentation in partnership strategies. He highlighted the challenges associated with value-based pricing for enterprise-level businesses and stressed the need for consistent pricing mechanisms. The discussion emphasized the importance of clear rate cards and segmentation strategies tailored to different partner types and client segments.

Steps to Take During the Partnership Journey

Building new partnerships is a complex process, so partnerships leaders need to be ready for anything. According to Philip, here’s how industry professionals can plan for long-lasting success at each stage in this journey:

Selecting Partners and Strategies

Before they close their next deal, partnerships pros should have a strong strategy in mind. Philip outlined three partner models: product partnerships, deployment partnerships, and professional resellers. Identifying the right model and aligning on a commercial strategy are crucial steps in the strategizing process.

Considering cultural alignment is another essential step to take when choosing partners. According to Philip, a potential partner’s cultural fit is determined by factors such as employee profiles, age, and business size. Aligning cultures is crucial for fostering strong connections between AEs from both partner organizations.

Building Strong Relationships Post-Deal

The first 90 days after signing a partnership deal are a critical time for building relationships and momentum. Philip emphasized the need for quick wins during this period to demonstrate the partnership’s value. 

Specifically, Philip encouraged partnerships leaders to:

  • Set up joint Slack channels
  • Organize enablement sessions
  • Focus on aligning AEs from both partners

During the early stages of a fledgling partnership, practical steps like these can help foster collaboration and understanding across both sides of the aisle.

Renewing Classifications and Criteria

For partnerships to last longer than a few months, everyone must agree on the criteria they’ll use to measure success. Philip said establishing a clear set of metrics to determine success before or during the negotiation phase can help in this regard. However, he warned partnerships leaders not to over-engineer this process—instead, he advocated for a realistic and flexible approach focusing on what happens after the deal is signed.

In keeping with this emphasis on flexibility, these goals shouldn’t be set in stone. By taking time every six months to review and update their partnership’s metrics for success, partnerships leaders will have an opportunity to keep everyone on the same page.

How to Do Less, Better

Finally, Philip shared a piece of short but valuable parting advice: “Do less, better.” That simply means partnerships leaders should prioritize quality over quantity while pursuing new partnerships.

To this end, Philip encouraged partnerships pros to focus on a handful of partners, as doing so can lead to more meaningful and fruitful collaborations. This approach also calls for constant alignment with sales and product teams, which will ensure partnerships leaders’ efforts are geared toward their company’s most valuable partnerships.

Mastering Post-Deal Dynamics with Firneo

In the constantly evolving landscape of partnerships, Philip’s insights provide a roadmap for success beyond deal closure. By strategically identifying key accounts, taking a careful approach to compensation and pricing, and “doing less, better,” partnerships leaders can build enduring partnerships with ease.

Additionally, aspiring partnership pros should take steps to ensure the longevity of their own careers. But since many people working in partnerships fell into this field and didn’t receive meaningful guidance from their employers, this can be a surprisingly difficult undertaking. Fortunately, the expertise Firneo has to offer can give you the knowledge you need to excel in this industry. If you’re ready to get started, enroll in our Mastering Partnerships Strategy program today!

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