Does your organization have a CPO? No, not a Chief Product Officer, but a Chief Partner Officer, the C-Level executive that utilizes the power of B2B partnership programs to accelerate growth and reach new markets. CMO Denise Broady of Appian has one, and in 2020, 70% of the brand’s net new logos came from partnerships—an impressive number and a powerful reason to consider crowding the C-Suite with a new function dedicated to PX (as in, partner experience).
Denise was joined by Michael Welts of Wasabi and Melissa Sargeant of Litmus in a recent livestream to talk about why B2B partnerships matter and how to nurture them the right way, because B2B partnerships can literally unleash a world of opportunity. Like Melissa says, “You’re only limited by your own imagination in terms of what to ask for as part of those relationships. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Now, let’s dive into some of the show’s key takeaways.
Set Clear Objectives
A partnership works when both parties are aligned on the nature of the relationship and partnership end goals. Litmus, for example, partners with all the big marketing automation vendors—Oracle, Salesforce, HubSpot—and that relationship helps Litmus scale, tapping into new audiences to teach them how to leverage their partners tools, and help their partners run impressive joint email campaigns while they’re at it. To achieve such a symbiotic pairing, it starts with establishing clear, transparent objectives and constantly measuring against those goals via quarterly business reviews or regular check-ins.
Over-Deliver to Build Trust
Building trust is another foundational element in partnerships. As Denise shared, “If you don’t have the fundamentals of trust, you’re not going to be able to drive pipeline together. You’re not going to be able to have one voice in the market together.” One way that Appian over-delivers for its smaller reseller partners who may not have a dedicated marketing team is by offering them “campaigns in a box” as well as access to Appian’s creative team. A great way to solidify a strong partnership.
This is a simple as putting your money where you mouth is. If you want your partners to invest time learning your solution and selling it to their customers, then you’ll want to support these efforts with marketing development funds (MDF). These funds express commitment and if spent correctly, will benefit both parties. And the bigger the partnership, the bigger the MDF.
Make It Easy
Competing against Amazon, Google and Microsoft, Wasabi has seen some impressive growth while raising millions in funding. Wasabi is doing what its competition isn’t—leveraging partnerships to disrupt the market. Wasabi’s Technology Alliance partnership program adds about 350 new channel partners a month, and after two years of existence, the program now has over 5,000 partnerships. How do they manage it? Through a super simple partner portal and simple positioning, something the hot cloud storage brand does best. As Michael explains: “It has to be super simple in terms of the value proposition and the message. If it isn’t then complexity enters, it just adds time, and ultimately can kill deals.”
Keep Them in the Loop
Active partners should be in the know about go-to-market changes. If you roll out a new product, your partners should be the first to know about this and part of the launch plan. Denise discussed how, when Appian creates a new thought leadership piece, the brand is more than happy to let partners chop it up, add their own branding, and feature Appian jointly: “We work really hard to enable the partners so that they can carry the message over to the market and their customer base.”
A successful partnership program will result in more pipeline, faster conversion rates, and a whole new level of brand evangelism—so that’s where you want to measure, ideally using multi-touch attribution. Of Wasabi’s 5,000 partners, over 93% of them actively produce revenue for Wasabi, which Michael says they monitor through KPIs and bring to other key partner conversations. And as he explains, they won’t be slowing down on the PX front anytime soon: “Especially as an emerging company, we continue to have to invest heavily upfront in them, and then the returns come back. Our pipeline conversion rate is the perfect proof of how that investment is paid off.”
Looking for a super savvy B2B marketing partner? Let’s chat 😊