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4 Reasons Your Business Needs Partnerships in the COVID Era

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This is a guest post by Lisa Thoman Lawson.  She has been in SaaS technology channels for 15+ years, and consults for high growth, venture backed SaaS businesses on their partnership and channel strategies. Prior to consulting, Lisa was the Director of Partnerships at Optimizely and Thismoment and spent 4 years at Microsoft and more. Email her at lisa@ltlpartnerconsulting.com. As we enter month 5 of living with the uncertainty of Coronavirus, little to nothing has felt like it’s getting back to business as usual.  For SaaS leaders, the impact on go-to-market plans is no exception. 
Leaders are going back to the drawing board to redo their strategy, tactics, and internal org charts to adapt. Companies are adjusting budgets and operating plans, and sales teams are learning new ways to sell. 
If your company, like many others, is looking to lower CAC, improve margins, diversify risk, and reach their target buyers in new ways right now, it may be time to double down on your partner strategy.

PartnerReady takes the 1% Pledge

During these crazy days of 2020, we know that many people have had the opportunity to take a pause from the “Rat Race” and reflect. They have had the opportunity to sit back and think, “what is important to me?”, and “what exactly am I working for?” Of course, we all need the core essentials: shelter, food on the table, education for our children, and savings. But in these moments of reflection, many of us have now had the opportunity to question not only what is important but also: “where we want to live?”, “how do we want to work?”, “what things do I value?” Let’s face it, regardless of what you are working for, you are exchanging your most precious gift, TIME, for whatever monetary or intrinsic rewards you receive. 

We have thought about these questions a lot here at PartnerReady. Of course, we are extremely passionate about our corporate mission of helping experienced partner leaders to bring their knowledge and expertise to technology companies through our Fractional Partner Leade…

Mind the Gap: Is “Fractional Partner Leadership” the Solution?

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We originally wrote this as a full-length article for another publication but it turned out a little longer than needed.  We decided to publish the full-length piece here to share important perspectives we have while we edit down the content elsewhere.  
Coronavirus notwithstanding, as a leader in a SaaS company, you have a lot of macro and micro challenges that you face to do your job. You are responsible for aligning all the conditions to grow your business, and there is never a day that you can take your foot off the gas pedal because your investors expect exponential growth. Let's face it, with so many pressing matters on your plate; it is tough to manage everything or to be an expert in all aspects of your business. As our company's primary leader, I know this problem all too well. Some days I don't know if I am coming or going. So all this being said, we want to share thoughts that you will find helpful to help create your ideal conditions. 
When you dreamed up the ide…

Six Thoughts on How to Adapt to the "New Normal"

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As the Coronavirus continues to challenge the economies across the world, business leaders will be facing some of the biggest challenges of their careers. You may be a CEO, leading the overall direction of a company, or maybe a CRO responsible for the growth and retention of your client base, or a department leader that suddenly finds the world you know upside down. You are now facing challenges that were surely not in the "training manual", namely, how to withstand the impact of so many unprecedented challenges ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Your goal now is to help get your company back to a path of normalcy, even if it is a "new normal." 
Our extended team took a moment of reflection, and we sat down to discuss amongst ourselves some of the best practices that all leaders need to be implementing as we continue into these uncharted times. We created this list to share with you to add to the compendium of other solid advice we are reading from peers in business. Here are si…

The Last Mile: Time to Look Ahead To The Future

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These have been unprecedented times for everybody. It seems the entire world is unsure what to do next. We, like everybody else, are affected by COVID-19. We have had to make many adjustments in our life, our work, in our business dealings. So the first thing I want to say to everyone is to stay safe and stay sane. We will all get through this together.
Last week was a busy week for us—the busiest we've seen in the life of our young company. COVID-19 is exposing a lot of vulnerability in business models, and showcasing to company leaders that their go-to-market efforts are not balanced. Direct sales models of SaaS companies are being affected, and now a lot of leaders will not hit their goals for Q1 and Q2. That's today's reality.  
One of the common themes we are hearing is a reaction to the changes in circumstances: "Conferences are canceling; travel is restricted, we can't get to the customers, our leads are drying up. Can you help us?" People are looking fo…

Open Dialogue- CROs, How Can I Help You Think Alternative Revenue?

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In my head, I'm starting to sound like a broken record. I realize that it's not true. Like every other human being on the planet, when you are deeply engrossed in something, it fills your thoughts continuously. To me, things like using Alternative Revenue Streams to grow your business seems obvious, but I have to remember that not everyone has heard the message or thinks of it the way I do.  
I had a conversation with several CROs this week, and one of the things that came up in conversation was the notion of utilizing channels to create exponential growth and to help grow their business. For these CROs (thanks for letting me use you in this post), it was an A-ha moment. "Yes, of course, use other channels to market, why didn't I think of that?!?" Up to now, these individuals have only focused on direct sales as a path to customers, and our recent mention of Alternative Revenue Streams caught their attention enough to get on a phone call.  
So it dawned on me. As m…

Why Partner Programs Fail?

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Throughout my career in partnerships, I have had the good fortune to witness some great partner programs, some real works of art! But for every well-executed plan, I have seen dozens of mediocre, poorly run programs, and many that have just outright failed. This bothers me. Running partnerships is hard work, but seriously, why is the profession I have chosen to be involved in so full of train wrecks?
The subject has caused me to sit back and think of why some programs succeed and why some fail. When I ask CEOs and CROs why their partner program failed, they point to many factors, both internally and externally. Common items that I hear: we don't have a partner culture, we had the wrong partners, sales never adopted the model, we tried it for six months and made no progress and on and on and on...
However, when I step back, partnership programs fail from one of two directions. They either have too little or too much experience leading it. Let me explain.  
A majority of partner progra…

A question we should all ask ourselves: “How Do Our Customers Buy?”

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I had a recent discussion with a start-up CRO. We were talking about his company and their selling strategies. One of the first questions I asked was, "How do you sell to your customers?"
A simple question for sure. I intended to find out all the techniques used to get a customer to buy their products. As part of our focus at PartneReady, we try to find out different methods to drive alternative revenue streams, so it was a natural question. The CRO went into great detail about how his team sells. As I was listening intently, I started thinking, "Well, that's the method, but why?" Then it hit me. I started with the wrong question.
As part of my bag of tricks as a partner professional, my first phase in creating a partner strategy is a proprietary method of discovery that I call the "Value Chain of the Customer." In the Value Chain method, the first steps are to ask three questions: 1) To do his/her job, what does the product & service ecosystem look…

Fractional Partner Leadership Takes Center Stage

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Most earlier stage companies do not think "Ecosystem First" because founders and early-stage leaders do not have a channel or partnership experience base. Early-stage leaders typically come from engineering, finance, marketing, or direct sales backgrounds. Thus the concept of alternative revenue streams, ecosystems and how to build and support them are foreign ideas.   
Where can a company get this expertise? Partner teams are an expensive investment, right?!? Maybe but it doesn't have to be. Fractional leadership in other disciplines (CMO, CFO, Sales) is a proven way to cost-effectively bring experienced leadership to the table for early-stage companies without breaking the bank. If you are an early-stage company and you are looking to bring experience on your team, then a fractional leader might be just the ticket.  If you are a later stage company and you are investing in partnerships (or trying to fix a failed attempt), then a walk before you run approach is a great w…