If you are in Partnerships you have drunk the 'Partnerships are awesome Kool-Aid', but not everyone has - so thank God that Forbes has declared, “In our digitally disrupted world, driving success requires more than developing a strong solution alone. It’s not only what your product can do, but also who you partner or integrate with.”
In fact every organisation experiences the necessity of partnerships daily, as explained by Hubspot, “Your technology ecosystem is an indispensable part of daily business operations. You already know that no single app or platform can comprehensively address all organizational needs. That’s where the technology ecosystem comes into play. Think of your technology ecosystem as the fundamental infrastructure of your business operations because it serves as the cornerstone upon which all activities rely.”
If done correctly, the revenue growth from partnerships can be exponential and critical to your business. Even the mammoth global player, EY, saw a difference when the ecosystem superstar, Greg Sarafin, organised and focused the firm on fixing existing, and building new partnerships. The numbers are staggering. He claims that the results they have seen under his guidance, “…has accounted for 40% of EY's growth the past six years, and it has grown at 40% CAGR to over $8B in that period.”
Why the struggle with the C Suite
Once you open that 'Partnerships door' it is a struggle to identify the right route to success, in fact even, ‘What does good look like when building partnerships?’ is something only someone with experience can identify. One of the biggest challenges in the Partnerships industry is that the C Suite has little to no experience in this area, and has not even inter-woven it into the Revenue team effectively. The CEO can chant all day that s/he loves ecosystems, but unless the organisation has thought through all internal steps and Policies and Procedures between every part of the Revenue team (and managers maintain this) then sadly - failure is afoot. For success to be a consideration the organisation must be both customer and Partner centric!
The C Suite is filled with talented people (mostly), so why are Partnerships such a challenge for many of them? Well, Partnerships involve people, and people come and go, and have their own agenda. Also, the market changes, so does the competition, as does technology, not to mention the internal problem with a changing direction of the C Suite. Every single partnership has its own dynamics, and those will change too. The Partnership Landscape of any Partner Manager can change daily/weekly/monthly. Now there is a juxtaposition that is critical for success in Partnerships - while the market and tech always changes you CANNOT keep changing Partner Managers. The people building and managing those partnerships need to be seen as consistent and reliable. It builds the key quality of many in Partnerships, which is TRUST (Mike Nevin, Alliance Best Practice). Unlike the revolving door of Sales, you cannot keep churning the Partner team - the results are a disaster.
So for FY24, can you please work on improving the Policies and Procedures between the Partner and Sales teams, and actually implement and manage them (don't be lazy and leave it to the individual conflicts to arise on the team)??? While mentioning lazy management, also develop the Partner Managers on your team to make them an effective part of your trustworthy and solid ecosystem. Then like Greg, watch the bucks/sterling/euros/etc. just role in!!
 Luna Campos, Building a Technology Ecosystem: What You Need to Know (hubspot.com) (accessed 28 Nov, 23).
 Greg Sarafin, Global Managing Partner - Alliance Ecosystem, EY (informationweek.com) (accessed 28 Nov, 2023).