6 Ways to Build the Right Talent & Tools to Lead Your Partners in a Customer Success Practice
Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in the Partner Success space. I was fortunate enough to collaborate with one of them, Jared Raftery, Juniper’s Director of Cloud and Managed Services, to develop a new white paper defining the role of the Partner Success Manager (PSM). What is a PSM? In a word, he or she is a unicorn – a skilled and rare find in today’s marketplace. This talented professional will lead your partners into the age of Customer Success (CS) at a time when the stakes are higher than ever in the channel.
Let this sink in…ServiceSource estimates that more than 68 percent of North American tech companies’ revenue is sold through the channel, and it is well in excess of 80 percent outside North America. Delivering on a brand promise at that kind of scale requires more than merely encouraging partners to start a CS practice, vendors need the right people, processes, and tools to guide and mentor partners through the entire transition. And that’s where Partner Success comes in.
As we’ve been discussing in previous posts, Partner Success is a go-to-market approach or program that enables vendors to increase partner profitability, loyalty and growth by scaling CS through indirect channels. Leading tech vendors such as Cisco, Microsoft, Riverbed and Juniper Networks are already actively engaged in some phase of a Partner Success strategy to prepare their partners to compete in an era where customer experience — and, as a result, CS — is their lifeblood.
What we’re finding at Channel Impact is that the demand for Partner Success strategies and supporting programs is increasing exponentially as the service economy grows. In fact, one of the top requests we’re getting from our clients now is to support their channel transformation. That’s why Channel Impact established the industry’s first Partner Success practice earlier this year.
The PSM is a role that has emerged out of the need to scale the reach of Partner Success. They work for vendors and interface with partners to deliver the tools, programs, training, and workshops to operationalize CS and support partners in building their own CS practices.
PSMs require a very unique skillset—they need to be authorities on CS as well as business consultants and skillful navigators of the partner ecosystem. In order to meet all of these criteria, vendors will need to develop talent that aligns with the competencies required to perform the role. PSM candidates are a collective of company, partner and/or CS talent who are also tech savvy, skilled instructors, and poised at value selling.
6 Prescriptive Steps to Execute Partner Success
As vendors look to execute Partner Success quickly and effectively, we’ve developed our new white paper to offer six prescriptive steps to recruit, hire and prepare PSMs with the right data and tools to lead partners in CS. Here’s a sneak peek at three of those steps:
- Create a Target Partner Profile – Consult with your partner teams to assess a partner’s tolerance for risk, business timing, and appetite for change. Determine some objective characteristics of your target partner to build a data-driven profile, which might include volume of recurring business, number of different solutions re-sold, level of certification, etc. Then, combine the art and the science to create a target profile that will allow your PSMs to better focus partner engagement and recruiting efforts.
“The leading indicator of success for a PSM is someone who can align their company objectives with those of the partner, enable that partner to execute, and incent that partner to be an extension of their CS program. At Microsoft, we want PSMs who are adept at influencing behavior change, accelerating adoption and delivering ongoing enablement to optimize our ability to scale CS through partners.”– Troy Zaboukos, Partner Strategy Lead, Microsoft’s Customer Success Unit
- Build a PSM Toolbox – Identify the program elements available to PSMs to enable recruiting, education and adoption of CS practices and procedures. Components may include: CS playbooks and customer journey maps, certification programs, co-marketing tools, customer analytics and usage data, automation, and other technologies. Partners are an extension of your own CS organization, so your toolbox should set the stage for your PSMs to be as helpful and efficient as possible when working with partners.
- Map New Opportunities to Customer Lifecycle – Customer journey maps play an important role in training partner CS teams. To advance CS, partners need to understand the customer experience through each phase of the lifecycle, and how and when to engage customers to deliver the greatest value. PSMs create value for partners when they tie monetization opportunities to predictable events in the customer lifecycle.
Download the white paper here to see the complete list of steps and to find out more about recruiting, hiring and cultivating the right PSM talent. And if you’d like to discuss your organization’s Partner Success strategy and your search for high-value PSM professionals, Channel Impact is here to lend support.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m passionate about this topic and always eager to find like-minded folks out there. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or if you just want to chat.
VP, Client Success