The Essential Guide to Building a Partner Success Plan

Peter Lai
4 min readMay 20, 2021


By now, we understand the importance of partner ecosystems to succeed in today’s market. According to EY, 90% of companies surveyed have or are considering a migration towards subscription and consumption-based business models to meet customers’ needs. The rush to adopt digital technology during the pandemic has exposed a skills gap needed to help businesses in their transformation efforts. Companies are looking to overcome this challenge by tapping into partners’ resources to fill this gap, speed their time to market, complement their product with the strengths of others, and differentiate themselves in their industries.

The role of customer success is vital in today’s subscription-based world and has quickly become a source for customer growth and profitability. Companies who adopt a customer success mindset have a long-term view and can understand their customers at a deeper level, properly address pain points, and maximize value creation by providing the right products and services. As the market continues to evolve, B2B customers expect the same personalized experiences from their vendors and partners. Because of this change, the challenge for partner professionals is to re-examine what partner success means to the partnership. Partner success extends beyond the transaction, so partner professionals will need to adopt a similar customer-centric strategy to their ecosystem to enable partners to succeed.

The Goal of Partner Success

While it’s important to align goals across the partners in your ecosystem, each partner will have their own goals and definitions of success. Partner success is focused on working proactively with the partners throughout their time to help them get more value out of the partnership and share their feedback with you. It drives the partner experience forward and ensures a successful path into the future.

The goal of partner success is to enable every partner to:

  • Achieve their revenue goals.
  • Maximize their return on investment.
  • Establish a foundation of predictable and sustainable growth.

Five Building Blocks of a Partner Success Plan

Building a Partner Success Plan starts with existing best practices and extends with mapping, planning, and tracking a partner’s journey to success. Progress is measured and acts as a feedback loop for improvement, success, service delivery, and support. To begin, ask yourself: “What would I need to succeed as a partner?”

1. Onboarding

Getting a partner off to a strong start increases the chance for success. Introducing a dedicated account or success manager early helps the partner feel confident about partnering with you. Another effective way to get new partners up to speed can also include holding webinars and demos to access important resources or navigate the partner portal.

2. Training

Make it easy as possible for your partners to take advantage of your product. This could involve visiting your partners or scheduling customized product training to meet the customer’s needs. Partners that know your product inside and out will be more comfortable recommending your product.

3. Feedback

Engaging in a dialog with your partners to understand how your product meets the needs of their customers and whether there are areas for possible improvement can go a long way in partner success. It’s important to pay attention to feedback on both the product itself and the overall experience, such as onboarding and documentation, of using your product.

4. Enablement

You can’t be in every meeting that a partner has with their customer, so maintaining the resources is crucial in helping your partners achieve their revenue goals. Making sure that your partners are aware of the resources is just as important as keeping them updated. Partner success entails reviewing the knowledge base, tutorials, and any content that your company presents to clients for accuracy.

5. Management

One of the most important tasks in partner success is maintaining an ongoing relationship and being aware of the partners’ individual needs and experiences. Account management is even more critical if you have key partners that bring in the most activity and opportunities. Establishing an active role in managing your partnerships will not only reduce partner churn but also helps keep you one step ahead of customer churn.

Uncover the Challenges

Like its customer success counterpart, a successful Partner Success Plan delivers ongoing deep relationships with partners based on transforming their success into shared success. It involves collaborating with internal teams to enable the partner to reach their goals throughout the partner journey.

Reviewing your current partner program is essential to know if you can support a Partner Success Plan. How would each of the following items below impact and influence the trajectory of your success plan? What are the challenges that you would face, and how would you approach them to?

  • State of Your Partner Ecosystem
  • Current Partner Journey
  • Success Criteria
  • Current Risks
  • Stakeholder Buy-In
  • Executive Buy-In
  • Team and Resource Allocation

The shift towards a recurring revenue model means that it’s no longer enough to measure partner success solely on a transactional basis. Leveraging a customer success mindset into your partnerships will improve your relationship with your partners and build a collaborative culture aligned and responsive to the customer’s changing needs.

This post originally appeared on Partner Trends. To get this story and future articles straight to your inbox, subscribe here.



Peter Lai

I help businesses build and leverage successful partner programs