Mind the gap – How to align partner Go-to-market execution?

  • Do you get ad-hoc partner marketing budget requests and struggle to have the data to push back on sales?
  • Does your marketing target link back to the sales target?
  • Where does partner enablement factor into your demand generation plan?
  • Do sales think partner/channel marketing just administrate budget requests?
We’ve had a number of Community discussions around the importance of ROI, and as we entered 2023, we explored “what marketing activity should you do to deliver the right ROI in first place?”
Thanks to Barnaby Wood and Lily Lazarevski for leading this discussion and sharing best practice tools and templates (templates in the member area only).

What are the problems go-to-market teams face?

1. Misaligned expectations/perception with sales teams
  • The marketing organisation structure can often reward metrics that don’t directly help sales. Helping sales is a fundamental requirement.
  • Setting the right perception is also important e.g. channel/partner marketing can often be seen to be an administration function routing marketing funds to partners
2. Mapping the ROI to stakeholder success
  • Mapping the required ROI for your various stakeholders is critical, so that channel/partner marketing aligns appropriately.
3. Turning creation into an activity
  • Channel/partner marketing is one of the functions that get the closest to the partner, which is a great support to sales, but it can sometimes act in a silo.
  • To be most effective at delivering marketing activity it needs to link with other areas of marketing i.e. field, and then link back to sales.
4. Sharing and owning the responsibility with sales leaders
  • It is important that channel/partner marketing co-owns the target with sales to drive joint responsibility.
  • To support this channel marketing needs to be empowered to engage with partners.
  • Sales are the primary owner of the partner, but channel/partner marketing needs to be the secondary owner to create the right activity to have the right impact.
5. Budget realities (including intangibles)
  • Finally, building all the activities together and determining if the marketing budget is appropriate for the sales target.

How do you develop a model to address these challenges?

Step 1: Understand the sales goals

Start with your overall sales/booking/new customer goals and determine what % of the number of sales you want to be responsible for. For example, partner marketing might own 40% of the target. This is in part determined by the partner marketing budget available i.e. based on the typical cost to generate a lead $XX then with a partner marketing budget of X you can create xx leads. The key point is don’t take on a target that does not align with your budget, otherwise, you are set up to fail!

Step 2: How does the partner marketing plan trickle down into ownership

Your partner marketing plan template is an important tool to check that a partner is mature enough to deliver the required pipeline i.e. a new partner not fully enabled and without a signed-off plan or a clear joint value proposition is unlikely to deliver the required ROI.
It is important to have a partner business plan that aligns with the marketing plan because the plan shows the joint strategy, agreement and revenue target. This is the ideal point for the partner marketer to step in and make sure the marketing investment aligns with the target.
It was noted that for new partners this can harder to mandate, and you may need to make some initial “seeding” investment.
Best practice: Only invest in a partner with a business plan and look for an ROI of 1:12-20 and sales, marketing, and the vendor stakeholders should all put their signatures on the plan to guarantee sign off.

Step 3: Build demand-generation goals

Steps 1 to 2 build into a pipeline plan (template available in the member area) which consolidates all the partner marketing activity and maps it against the sales target. This highlights where there are gaps i.e. not enough activity, too much activity – by quarter or by region. This gives partner marketers the data to make sure marketing is being spent in the right areas.
The beauty is that it links all activity directly to the sales cycle which can be so varied, and long – it gives you a longer-term view versus being reactive quarter by quarter. You can also fold in enablement and even though it doesn’t have a direct ROI, it shows it is a necessary linked investment e.g. we want to run a new campaign but we need to make sure we also enable sales.
It might also help you hold budget back if you don’t need to spend to hit your goals!!
In summary, this goals-based gap planning provides:
  • A model that builds out based on the projected pipeline from activity
  • Combine sales and marketing-based pipeline to identify future gaps
  • Gives visibility of channel demand gen programmes to sale leadership
  • Builds shared responsibility for revenue-based success
  • Shows up misalignment between budget and desired outcomes
It is a complex, multi-stakeholder job which makes it hard to execute some of these approaches described above but the key is we are focused on “progress not perfection”.

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