Time is money, especially for a partner manager.
A client of Qollabi calculated that its partner managers spend more than 3 hours per week updating numbers in static partner plan documents, filling out the CRM, adjusting powerpoints, and fulfilling administrative tasks.
And we are not even considering that unexpected phone call from your partners in the middle of lunch or dinner. While you might not be paid for entertaining your partners, it’s all part of the job. It’s essential to build and manage your relationships with your most important partners to keep them committed. The problem is there aren’t many hours in the day, and it’s crucial to maintain the right focus.
As much as you want to satisfy as many partners as possible, you’re just one person. There is an infinite number of tasks and meetings that demand your time and attention. Since you can’t work all day, make the most of the time you have. Here are some of our most useful tips on how you can better manage your time as a partner manager
1. Be bold
If you have a large partner base, it’s a lot harder to satisfy each and every partner. Of course, some partners are more important than others, so you have to be bold enough to choose the partners and accounts that you’ll spend more time with.
Pareto’s 80/20 rule states that 80 percent of sales are from 20 percent of partners, while the remaining 20 percent of sales are from 80 percent of partners. The exact percentage may vary, but it’s still true that most of your sales come from only a small percentage of your partners. While you shouldn’t ignore any partners, you should at least put your best partners at the top of your to-do list and automate as much of your tasks and support for the long tail partners.
2. Plan Smarter
Partner managers have different initiatives on a day-to-day basis. They need to schedule meetings, talk to partners, update numbers, and more. This makes the job really exciting - but it can also be a hassle to wear multiple hats and figure out how to structure your to-do list.
So, how do you manage your time? Ginny Soskey, marketing strategy manager at Hubspot’s Marketing blog, recommends a matrix:
In an interview with Hubspot, she says, "The stuff that I should be focusing on are those in the top half: the important goals and critical activities. I try to minimize the time I spend on the low-importance and low-urgency tasks. "She re-evaluates the matrix at the beginning of each day. When tasks start to pile up, she uses the matrix to evaluate how fast she’ll need to respond instead of diving head-first into making it a priority. The matrix can also be used to determine the most important meetings in the coming week or the next two weeks.
3. Set Meeting Agendas
Those who want to save time for their meetings ought to set meeting agendas. This helps you make the discussion productive and settle tasks as fast as possible. Here’s an example from the Harvard Business Review.
The agenda is divided into three columns: topic, preparation, and proposed process. It doesn’t have to look like an exact replica, and you can vary your agenda based on the context of your meeting.
The point is that you have to schedule time for discussing definite points so that team members can also prepare for the meeting to fast-track the decision-making process. A meeting agenda will also allow you to jump back to the agenda when topics derail. Setting an agenda beforehand will make sure you spend the right time analyzing the initiatives that happened vs. planning forward.
Extra: Not everyone will always be able to attend the meeting. That’s why you should also prepare a debrief of your meetings so they can easily catch up for future meetings.
4. Determine Preferred Mode of Communication
Always ask your partner their preferred method of communication for staying in touch. It’s a simple question:
- Would they prefer calls or emails?
- Do you prefer a video conference call?
- Do they want to discuss things in-person?
There are numerous accounts that are important to you - but not all partners will demand a physical meeting. Although, you still have to keep in touch to maintain their loyalty.
By asking their preferred method of communication, you can better structure your schedule. You’ll be able to reach client A in the morning and talk to client B in the evening - if they need weekly updates. You’ll also know in which channel they’re more likely to respond or build communication with you. Another perk is that you’ll know how best to reach them if there’s an urgent task or work emergency.
5. Leverage technology to save time
CRM and Marketing Automation solutions have automated a lot of manual tasks for marketing and sales personnel. Partnership teams should not stay behind. BRM (Business Relationship Management) is a solution category that allows partner professionals to plan and collaborate with partners on partner plans, co-selling opportunities, and strategic projects by automating updates and connecting the right data points partner managers will save time and focus on the right initiatives with their partner portfolio.