How to drive more revenue with Tier 1 partners

For many years, the tiered partner program model has formed the foundation of how many businesses structure and engage their partnership ecosystem.

You know the deal: you sort your partners into different partner types – your technology partners, your SIs, and so on – and within these categories, they’re further sorted into something like bronze, silver, or gold tiers, according to various criteria. These tiers determine what kind of rebates, margins, service, training, and support the partner in question is entitled to.

It’s a pretty good system, and for the large part, it works well enough.

But we don’t want “pretty good” and “well enough”. We want to drive astronomical partner-sourced revenue at scale, so we’re going to have to do better than that!

Are your Tier 1 relationships really as good as you think they are?

Now, most PAMs THINK they have pretty awesome relationships with their Tier 1 partners.

What they REALLY have is pretty awesome relationships with a handful of key decision-makers or fellow partner managers in that partner organization.

In other words, your Tier 1 contact ecosystem looks like this:

1 to 1

Houston, we have a problem. And that problem is about to blow up your revenue rocket.

On the surface, the partner-to-partner relationship looks solid, because that single person-to-person relationship feels solid. In reality, the entire partner relationship is hanging on by a single thread. If that thread is severed – someone leaves, or stops responding, or underperforms – the whole thing falls apart, and suddenly the relationship stops delivering any benefit whatsoever. This is bad!

Relying on a select few points of contact also means you’re missing out on the opportunity to build relationships with relevant people within your partner organization, at scale.

The AEs, the CSMs, the consultants – these are the people within your partner organization who already have relationships with your potential customers. These are the people who can bring you into deals. Lots of deals. More deals than you would ever imagine (and certainly more than you’d ever even hear about from your single point of contact).

If you want to drive partner-sourced revenue at scale, you can’t rely on a handful of points of contact in your partner organization. You need to be engaging, exciting, and activating a web of customer-facing partner contacts at scale.

And if you get this right, your Tier 1 contact ecosystem starts to look like this:

1 to n

Now we’re cooking with gas.

A partner where few people know you, trust you, feel valued and understand what you do is WAY less powerful than one where you have hundreds (or thousands!) of these people activated and willing to bring you into deals.

So how do we turn 10 partner contacts into 500 activated and engaged partner contacts?

It’s starts with building a partner contact activation funnel that actually works, to help you activate and consistently engage not 1 or 10 people per partner, but hundreds. You can read more about this here, but here’s the gist:

The reason we usually only have a handful of good relationships per partner company is that most partner contacts are never actually activated properly.

For most companies, the onboarding process is okay-ish. Maybe there’s a lunch-and-learn. Everybody has a good time. You send through a bunch of content, and grant them access to your portal or some type of training. And that’s kind of it.

But if you want to build a sticky, dense web of contacts within your partner organization that will not only secure your partner-to-partner relationship at large, but also generate more predictable revenue, you have to focus on building a partner activation funnel that helps you build, nurture, establish and reinforce relationships with wide web of partner contacts consistently, successfully, and - again – at scale.

Through an automated process, each of these partner contacts is shifted down the activation funnel, getting to know you, trust you, feel valued by you, and REMEMBER you all along the way, so that when the opportunity arrives, they bring you into a deal.

And this level of consistent engagement should continue way beyond the referral. Once a partner contact has brought you into a deal, the work has just begun! You need to keep them constantly updated, get them involved, and (personally!) thank them once the deal is closed. This is where relationships are really solidified, and the results are more referrals, higher win rates, and bigger deal sizes.

If you’re doing this right, your network of activated contacts within each partner organization will strengthen and expand consistently over time, and so will your revenue.

And then you’re really REALLY cooking with gas.

So what happens if you activate (almost!) EVERYONE in your partner organization?

So far, we’ve spoken about the importance of shifting our focus from nurturing a single point of contact within your partner organizations (the old way) to working to build an activated network of PARTNER CONTACTS that threads itself deeply throughout your partner organizations (the better way).

Now let’s talk $$$.

10X the number of activated partner contacts at your Tier 1 partners, and you 5-10X the chances of a referral. It's simple math and our data confirms it (which isn't really that surprising).

Other blog posts