That’s a great question. Let me start with some background.
In many traditional large organizations, partner marketing teams up with system integrators (SIs), large area resellers (LARs)/licensing solution partners (LSPs) and a variety of resellers. These would make the bulk of your partner sales. Hence organizations focused on the relationship with the best SIs, LSPs and resellers. Independent software vendors (ISVs) only played a minor role.
In today’s SaaS world, organizations realize that marketing and selling with other technology partners (ISVs) is as important. This is often accomplished through APIs within the product. This is where product marketing comes in. In addition to typical product marketing for new features, partner product marketing involves a deep understanding of the value of both products together instead of individually. This is an additional layer of complexity compared to typical product marketing, which I find very exciting.
If partnerships are a focus for the organization, partner PMM as a dedicated team is crucial. Within the team, there can be individuals supporting for technology partnerships, cloud alliances and traditional SIs, LSPs & resellers. Depending on the organization and the existing and planned partnerships, the number to support each one could differ.
In addition to the typical partner marketing, there can be additional resources geared towards technical marketing.
I follow the following steps to drive a successful GTM motion with partners.
Be Strategic: Every partnership does not necessarily warrant the same effort. Develop tiers for each partner type. Set strategic goals for each tier.
Collaborate: Deep collaboration with product, business development and sales is a must-have for any partner product marketing plan to succeed. This is in addition to other collaboration across the rest of product marketing and marketing.
Plan: Develop a calendar based on launches to co-market with partners. Measure and learn through each campaign and apply the learning across the partnerships
Generally speaking, partner marketing influences sales pipeline and revenue. Not different from product marketing in this aspect.
With each partner, there should be specific quarterly and annual goals to influence this. Details related to conversion rate based on campaigns planned make these goals operational.
There can often be additional goals based on MDF funds given out for specific launches.
SaaS companies start by selling to customer with their existing sales teams. Partnerships increase product stickiness thus increasing adoption and retention, driving long-term growth. Partner PMM is a requires someone who can wear many hats
1. Product marketing – core product marketing skills including messaging positioning, content creation etc.
2. Partner marketing: Understand co-marketing and be able to build external relationships within the partner ecosystem
3. Collaboration & Execute: Strong ‘can-do’ attitude to collaborate internally with business development, product, rest of marketing and obviously sales/partner sales.
A person who has a strong background with partner PMM is sure to rise and have long career in scaling technology companies.
Partner marketing can be a huge growth driver for the business, if prioritized. With the right partnerships, co-marketing and co-selling can drive a significant part of organizational revenue.
I would think about partner marketing early during the GTM cycle to ensure coverage with the right partners based on product/feature releases.
In order to get the best attention from the sales teams, it is important to create a plan in conjunction with them. Early buy-in drives engagement through the process. Also, as with any product marketing engagement with sales, it is an ongoing collaboration and discussion to apply the best learnings and keep the feedback loop going.