Questions to Ask in Your Next Partner Manager Interview
As your partner program expands, you’ll need to build out your team to best maintain and nurture relationships with existing and potential partners. While the role of partnership manager is somewhat new, finding the right fit is crucial. Finding an all-star is even better.
All companies want to find those rockstar employees who propel business. Whether you’re building out a new partner network or looking to grow an existing program, keep the following pointers in mind when looking for – and hiring – that exceptional partner manager.
Who Fits the Partner Manager Job Description?
Depending on the size of the company and the specifics of its B2B partner program, there may be several roles to fill on the partnership team. These positions can include:
- Partner Manager
- Director of Partnerships
- VP of Partnerships
The first role you’ll want to fill or establish is a leadership position for your internal partnerships team. Determine who will head these initiatives, as well as who will hire and manage employees.
Next on your list should be an individual tasked with carrying out partner strategy and having regular interactions and communication with partners. This should be your rockstar partner manager.
The person who fits the partner manager job description will likely have a background in interacting with clients, customers or, ideally, partners on a daily basis. This person will probably wear several hats in their role, especially as you work to identify and fill gaps throughout the team.
A strong candidate for the partner manager role will be able to execute partner strategy, strengthen partner relationships and juggle several specific partner initiatives and goals on an ongoing basis. The ideal candidate should have a bachelor’s degree and background in sales, marketing or client support if they aren’t already working in the partnership sphere.
When hiring an individual to manager partners, consider the following qualifications in your partnership manager job description:
Expertise in Leveraging Technologies to Automate Workload
Your partner manager doesn’t need to be a programmer or IT expert, but they should be tech savvy enough to learn new software and apply new tools to better execute their work. To qualify for your partnership team, candidates should have familiarity with using a PRM or a similar platform that automates tasks so they can focus on the bigger picture of partner success.
Experience with Marketing and Writing Content
Written and verbal communication skills are vital in keeping bonds with partners strong, setting expectations and communicating progress on projects, initiatives and goals. Professional marketing experience equips individuals with an understanding of KPIs, reporting and analytics, as well as crafting messaging that provides value to the end user and helps an organization reach its respective goals.
Proven Effectiveness in Conflict Management and Relationship Building
At the end of the day, your partnership manager will be frequently interacting with others and should possess excellent people skills. Knowing how to de-escalate a situation in which a partner is dissatisfied or worse is a highly desirable qualification. Evidence of loyal, long-term contacts will show your candidate’s ability to create and maintain solid working relationships with others.
Soft Skills Like Networking, Emotional Intelligence and Empathy
Because the partnership manager role is human-facing, soft skills are extremely important in forming and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Qualified candidates will be pros in social settings, with strong listening skills and the ability to understand and empathize with different personality types. Dependable, friendly, responsible employees make excellent partner managers.
Hard Skills Like Strategy Development, Campaign Management, and Analytics
Partnerships require more than just a friendly face as the point of contact. Qualified individuals vying for a manager role on this team should be skilled in creating and executing strategies based on specific goals and measuring success through reporting. The ideal partner manager will be able to deliver for partners and internal stakeholders and effectively communicate those results.
What to Look for in a Partner Manager
When searching for that all-star partner manager, you want to seek out a qualified candidate you feel confident will help scale your partner program and ultimately grow revenue. Depending on the size of your business, you may need to find someone who already has several years of partnership experience under their belt to maintain the workload.
If your partner program is relatively new, or your team is on the smaller side, it may be more appropriate to hire someone with a strong background in marketing, sales or business, but hasn’t necessarily worked as a partner manager before. Whatever the case for your individual needs may be, asking the right questions to determine the best fit for your open partner manager role will help you find your all-star.
Before jumping into the interview process, plan for the following stages to better weed out unqualified candidates and narrow down your selection.
Stage 1: Screener
Before the official job interview takes place, a recruiter or member of the human resources department should schedule a brief phone call with qualified applicants. This conversation should confirm the role the individual applied for is what they expected. It should also be used to identify individuals that appear to be a good fit for the role. If so, the call organizer should then schedule a formal interview with the candidate and the hiring manager.
Stage 2: One-On-One Interview
During the interview between the hiring manager (you) and the candidate (your potential Allstar), the interviewee should expect to be asked several open-ended questions about their past work experience, including specific situations or scenarios in which they had to exercise skills required for the partner manager role. This allows you to dig a little deeper into the candidate’s work history and assess their critical thinking skills, as well as how well they perform under pressure.
Stage 3: Panel Interview or Second One-On-One Interview
Following the interview with the candidate’s potential manager, either two or more members of the company will be available to ask the candidate questions and ‘present’ the company to him or her. This is a great opportunity for a member of your sales or marketing team to speak with the candidate and determine if and how they might work well together. This opportunity can also be used to get a better sense of the individual’s behaviors and ability to communicate and connect with others aside from their potential boss.
Stage 4: The Final Interview
If the candidate has made it to the fourth and final stage of the interview process, there’s a very good chance you are considering hiring them for the partner manager position. This interview may even be more or less a formality. The final interview can take place between the company CEO or high-level executive for their final decision. In some instances, this interview could be used to determine if the individual is a good cultural fit. They may get a guided tour around the office or deeper insight into company benefits and perks. Following this interview, the candidate will either receive a job offer, followed by a formal offer letter or a polite rejection.
What to Ask During the Job Interview
No matter the stage of the interviewing process, always ask questions that give you more insight into the individual and their ability to perform effectively on your partnerships team. It’s important to have current employees interview candidates as well to ask questions related to their specific daily roles and how well the potential partner manager will interact and collaborate with them.
Get the ball rolling to vet potential candidates with the following questions:
- “Give me an example of a time a partner or customer was unhappy. What did you do to resolve the situation?”
- The answer to this question will give you a look into how well the candidate handles stressful situations and what they have done to keep relationships going even after an issue arises.
- “Talk about a campaign you created and/or worked on for a client. What metrics did you measure to determine if it was successful?”
- Hearing about specific organized actions the candidate took to achieve a particular goal will shed light on their ability to develop new initiatives for partners, see projects through to completion and measure the results.
- “Tell me about your work style. Do you prefer to collaborate with others or complete tasks independently?”
- The individual best suited for the partnership manager role will enjoy working with others and taking several different strengths and perspectives into account.
- “What areas of expertise can you offer to our partnership team and partner network?”
- You want to make sure the candidate can back up the skills and knowledge included in their resume with specific examples. Their soft and hard skills should align with the desired qualifications of a partnership manager.
- “How do you prioritize your projects and keep yourself and others organized?”
- Understanding the person’s ability to take charge and deliver is important. Getting a peek behind the curtain to see how they might prioritize your current or future partners over others can help you determine if they’re a good fit. You may also learn some new strategies you haven’t yet tried
For more partner manager job interview questions, check out the Questions to Ask in Your Next Partner Manager Interview resource.
Finding Your Partnership Management All-Star
Building out your partnership program team means searching for candidates at different levels, depending on what roles you need filled, with overlapping skills related to driving growth through successful partner relationships.
But where exactly do you find that incomparable, unequaled, one-of-a-kind all-star who will consistently knock it out of the park? Scouring social media for former partner managers who were laid off or looking for new opportunities is a start. The holy grail of places is, of course, LinkedIn.
Since partner managers can come from a variety of industries and backgrounds, searching for candidates with sales and marketing backgrounds who are #OpentoWork can be a great place to begin your recruiting journey. Read potential candidates’ recommendations for insight into their collaboration skills and achievements.
Create a post on your personal LinkedIn account and company page advertising the open position with details and instructions on applying. Post your open job for free, or budget to promote the job post or add additional positions you’re hiring for in partnerships.
Online Partner Communities
The ultimate communication tool designed for professionals, Slack is a great place to network with others who are involved in partner programs or may know someone who would be a good fit for your open role. Search Slack communities related to channel partnerships, or tap into your existing network for word-of-mouth recommendations.
Tap into the active partner network online by listening to podcasts, following mentors in the space, and networking with others in your industry. You may find your partner program all-star tapped into places you never would have thought to look!