What Is a Partner Manager? With Tips to Become One

By Indeed Editorial Team

20 December 2021

Business-to-business (B2B) partnerships are professional relationships that benefit both companies. The partnership model has increased in complexity in modern commerce, creating a need for a partner manager. If you come from a strong business background and enjoy networking and strategic planning, you may consider a career in partner management. In this article, we look at what a partner manager is, discuss what they do, explore how these managers help partners and review how much they typically earn.

What is a partner manager?

Answering the question 'what is a partner manager?' may improve your understanding of key business professionals. Business partners come from different companies and form a mutually beneficial relationship to pool customer bases, products and services. A partner manager works with business partners to develop professional relationships and meet company goals. The exact role they fulfil differs between organisations, but their primary purpose is to look for beneficial connections and use those to set up opportunities for the business to grow.

What does a partner manager do?

While partner manager jobs vary depending on the employer, there are aspects of the career that are consistent across different industries. Here are the basic duties that a partner manager may complete:

Building professional relationships with partners

Partner managers take time to invest in relationships with peers at other companies. Networking can be a key element to a partner manager's role, as a lot of what they do involves communicating. Making phone calls, attending meetings and liaising at events all create a flow of information that can open up many opportunities and possibilities for the growth of the business.

Assessing new partnership opportunities

The practical side of a partner manager's role in assessing new partnership opportunities is researching products, reviewing applications and connecting with people. Strategically, a partner manager might determine which partnerships to prioritise, as entering a partnership involves an investment of time and effort. Analytical ability is important as they sort through data concerning partners and products to find the best overlap with the company's target market.

Using partnership software

Partnership software can help a manager become more efficient and effective in their tasks. In smaller, younger organisations, partnership management software may be optional. As a business grows, it can become essential. Partnership manager software can fall into two categories. Here is a breakdown of what each type of software does:

Partner relationship management (PRM) software

PRM software converts daily tasks to measurable results and key performance indicators (KPIs) by:

  • cataloguing and tracking partner connections and relationships

  • recording interactions with important connections

  • distributing marketing materials for promotions

  • capturing leads and referrals

  • tracking productivity

  • recording conversations

PRM software works well for small to medium size partner networks as it involves a high level of manual operation.

Data escrow software

Data escrow software is a newer, cloud-based development in PRM software that automates the search for opportunities between organisations by:

  • scanning sales pipelines

  • scanning and assessing leads

  • checking customer lists to identify matching partner interests

  • maintaining data confidentiality for all parties

Data escrow software is ideal for larger companies with complex partner relationships and needs as the automation factor creates a fast, simple process.

Generating sales

A partner manager's key goal is to increase a company's revenue. While partnerships affect each step of the sales funnel, from lead generation, qualification, closing and retention, their influence may be most apparent in the lead generation and closing stages. A partner manager might focus on both short-term increases in sales, while also cultivating long-term prospects by growing the market audience and market share.

Lead generation and closing

A partner manager affects lead generation. Partner organisations refer to potential customers as new leads that are also known as partner qualified leads. These leads are usually a good fit for the business and may cause a higher conversion success rate.

A partner's ability to close deals often comes through the relationship they have built with the buyer. When the partners they manage produce excellent results, it can be a positive reflection of the partner manager.

Related: Sales Jobs and Salaries

Experience that may lead to becoming a partner manager

Becoming a partner manager may take years of working experience and building a network of connections. Experience can help you develop the strong communications and negotiation skills required for this job. Many partner managers have a bachelor's degree in administration or business. Someone straight out of university might rarely become a partner manager straight away, as the role depends on the relationships built and experience gained. Career paths that can lead to working as a partner manager include:

Founding team members

Many partnership leaders are founding members or early employees of the company who have worked in various roles in the organisation. This may give them a solid understanding of the company's vision, position in the marketplace and the company's history. Being a senior employee with a long-standing relationship with the business might add to their credibility.

Employees from a sales background

Sales representatives who are strategic thinkers often transition to become partner managers. Their thorough product knowledge, combined with the outgoing nature required for a career in sales, can be an excellent combination for managing partners. A strategic mindset may be well-suited to the analytical side of the job.

Product managers

Product managers are often comfortable switching to partner manager roles. Technology is adapting to improve customer experience product integrations. Product managers who make use of technology may find that knowledge useful as they move into a partner manager role. Project managers with a background in product management can bring additional experience that may add value to their service.

Product background

An increasing number of partner programs handle technology and product integrations. Social media advertising opportunities help craft the way companies collaborate and create value for customers together. Because of this, it can be quite common to see product managers shift their career focus to become partner managers. Deep product knowledge may provide a good background for the partner manager role.

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

What a partner manager may do for their partners

Partner managers may offer different levels of help to the partners on their team. Their input generally aligns with their unique strengths and character traits as leaders. Some partner managers invest extra time and care in their relationships with their partners. This may strengthen the team dynamic and have a positive effect on income generation. Here are some ideas of what a partner manager may do to get the best out of the team:

  • Offers strategic advice: A partner manager can take on the role of a coach and help partners think strategically to run their business more effectively.

  • Help identify their partner's growth goals: Understanding what the partner wants to accomplish and helping them reach their targets.

  • Work within their partner's resource limitations: A successful partner manager can clearly understand a manager's brief and aim to work within the resource limitations of their partner.

  • Respond to requests for information quickly: Being available to answer partners' questions quickly can help the partners to conduct their business using accurate information.

  • Assist new partnerships to establish their businesses: Managing the beginning of a partnership well can give the relationship a good chance of succeeding.

  • Take part in sales calls when asked: Some less experienced partners may benefit from a partner manager who sits in on sales calls for new products and offers guidance afterwards.

  • Offers sales training and coaching: Partner managers can have years of experience in sales and understand different techniques. They may train their partners in sales and coach them until they feel comfortable.

  • Provides product training: Effective selling relies on thorough product knowledge and some partner managers share their knowledge with their partners.

  • Passes lead on to partners: Strong partnerships are those where business flows both ways. Passing a lead on to a partner who can meet necessary needs may benefit the partner, the client and ultimately, the partner manager, too.

  • Creates an ecosystem: A partner manager who creates a network of partners can build a mutually beneficial community.

  • Provides updates and product training: If the product for sale is something that's in development or has regular updates, such as software, continual training for partners may be a good idea. Other products might more stable and won't require ongoing training.

  • Offer help with marketing campaigns: Partner managers can share tips for running effective marketing campaigns, offer campaign tactics and give insight into finding new quality clients.

  • Extended team mentality: Partner managers who view their partners as additions to their team may create a sense of loyalty and trust.

Related: What Is a Finance Business Partner? (And How to Become One)

What does a partner manager earn?

The average annual salary for a partner manager is $104,528. This is a full-time, salaried position that may also pay commission. An employee in this role may to work unusual hours, as networking events sometimes take place in the evenings or over weekends.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.