Steal these 5 slides on partner strategy by Okta’s Maureen Little
Have you ever tasted a dessert so full of flavor that it put a smile on your face?
That is how I felt listening to Maureen Little’s presentation entitled “How To Build a Healthy Partner Strategy.” Maureen leads Tech Partnerships at Okta. Last month she delivered her talk at Crossbeam’s Supernode Conference.
Maureen’s talk is so good that I had a second helping - I listened to it twice. The second time I took notes so I could share highlights with you. In the end, I decided TfT readers would find the 5 slides below most actionable (more on that at the bottom of the post).
Okta is not a small company. Their top partners generate >$30M in ARR. But many of the lessons that Maureen shared (and the slides below) apply to partnership teams big and small, B2B and B2C and across tech sectors.
If you find the slides below useful I strongly suggest you also listen to Maureen’s talk (28 minutes) for more.
Capture how your team prioritizes.
Nothing is more important to a company's success than people and how they spend their time. But few companies take the time to articulate where their people focus and how they make decisions.
This slide shows how Okta makes decisions on when to build/buy/partner/invest - along the teams internally and data points externally that inform those decisions.
Do you and your team have as clear an articulation for how you prioritize?
Prioritize your partner models.
Here Maureen’s team analyzed the level of internal effort for different partnership motions (Y-axis) against financial impact (X-axis). This allows Okta to allocate the right resources against the highest impact partner types.
Have you analyzed your portfolio of partners? Which are driving the most impact?
Craft your partner pyramid.
Maureen’s team crafted this slide to distinguish Okta’s partner segments. This segmentation allows the team to be deliberate about the goals and allocation of resources with each partner segment.
Define your partner criteria.
Here’s Maureen: “When I came in [to Okta] there were 180 named partners and everything was in different systems. We built a criteria … we did this with Partnerships and with Product. We determined what we defined as a valuable partner to Okta specifically. [It was] not because we had worked with them for a long time or because they were really nice guys. We had to re-evaluate every company we worked with. Every single one of them. [That generated] a lot of upset partners.”
This slide captures how Okta prioritizes partners.
Structure your deal flow stages and stakeholders.
This partnership lifecycle slide is an elegant summary of a process that is pretty common across tech companies. Nothing earth-shattering here. But adding the cross-functional stakeholders offers a map for the entire organization to see when and where they contribute to closing deals.
Creating a slide like this can help you enlist the support of your internal partners before a deal arrives on their desk.
Steal these slides … and make them yours.
Even if you wanted to steal these slides - you can’t. These slides are built for and by Okta’s Partnership team. But you can take the wisdom embedded in these slides and apply them to your business and your partnership team.
Pretty slides is not the point of this post. This is about aligning strategic priorities internally and externally - these visuals reflect a thoughtful approach that many partnership teams can benefit from.
Do you have what it takes?
Maureen closes her talk with a few words about what it takes to lead a scaled partnership team the size of Okta’s. It is better to hear her deliver this portion live (26:00 min mark) but here’s an excerpt:
If you want to run a really big and scaled partnership organization make sure it is who you are and that you have the skills … that you’re self-aware. Because you have to have product knowledge, deep sales knowledge, you have to have financial knowledge, you have to build the strategy, you have to be able to be in conflict with your CPO, your CFO and your CEO. It’s okay to not want to do that.
… Your team will evolve and you will have to evolve. Ask yourself “do I like this big scaled partnership program? Do I like being the indirect revenue team?” And if you do, make sure you articulate why your company is going to hit its next billion dollars.
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