Accelerate Go-To-Market for Breadth Partners
After reaching, educating, and activating breadth partners, it’s time to accelerate and amplify their go-to-market activity — promoting partner solutions will result in pull-through of your underlying product/service.
Catalogs and directories can be helpful for connecting partners and potential customers, particularly if you represent a center of gravity for an industry segment (e.g., supply chain) or platform (e.g., cloud provider). If you don’t have critical mass as a platform provider, consider whether you should be taking a leadership position for a specific industry sector. Otherwise, you’ll need to settle for a partner page on your website that segments by solution type. Avoid getting lured into the complexity of providing direct transaction support unless you’re providing a market for add-on solutions where you can dictate the business model.
Others ways to promote partner solutions include affinity programs and networks. Your partner program should communicate consistent product messaging (particularly leading up to product launch) so your key themes are reinforced to PR channels. Provide template-driven joint marketing assets where partners can combine their logos and company information with your branding and messaging.
An advanced technique is to activate partners as evangelists by providing a club-like context (including monthly calls, product group access, event recognition, etc.) in exchange for exceptional press influence. You need to be careful about not having them formally represent your company for legal reasons, but acknowledging and rewarding good partnership behavior is of good intent.
As you inventory solutions that came out of your adoption tracking system, segment and prioritize them such that you have a few top references per sector that can be communicated in your PR/marketing campaigns and field sales customer engagement. There is a balancing act between partners that are large and have more customer traction (but are more conservative in the amount of change they’ll introduce) and the “cool” solutions that innovate more aggressively but tend to be newer/smaller companies with less initial market traction.
That takes us through the initial treatment of the breadth partner initiative. To recap, seek to reach potential partners broadly (measures include newsletter reach & 3rd party site visits). Provide online mechanisms where partners can educate themselves on your product and partnership value (an example KPI is web training consumption). Activate partner interest in actual product development that aligns with your release timeframes (tracked in your early adoption profiling system, with the expectation that their release is within 90 days of your release date). Accelerate partner go-to-market escape velocity through self-serve marketing materials and higher visibility marketing opportunities for the most innovative and influential solutions per sector (measured by influenced revenue or directly tracked revenue if your channels systems enable it).
Next time I’ll step into vendor management where partners are viewed as suppliers and because of their influence, need to be handled differently than your other partner relationships.