How to Activate Agency Partners

How to Activate Agency Partners

Concepts and strategies to get buy-in from partners and keep them engaged in the program.

Get these emailed!

Our newsletter includes actionable strategies on how to execute partnerships effectively.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

This was a presentation for The Partner Programs Collective.


The premise: Partner teams often struggle in the first 60 days of new partnerships - activating them and keeping them engaged in the onboarding process. We find, in many circumstances, this is because the partner manager did not: 

  1. Sell the partner on the track completely.
  2. Review expectations, dates, requirements...
  3. And, they did not get sign off / commitment from the partner to get through the track.

Here is our advice to get your partners activated and through the entire partner track.


Concept: Joint ventures - how to run partnerships like joint ventures.

Partnering can become too transactional too quickly and never return to its natural form. This happens because:

  1. Partnerships is often under sales - so it's run the same way.
  2. Quota’s are set are revenue too soon.
  3. Partner managers are trained to use commissions and product features as the hook, instead of the alignment value of “partnering.” 

Here's a routine for new partnerships that we suggest:

Read the article on Joint Ventures.

In it, the author lays out what can easily be the guidelines for a successful Service Provider-to-tech partnership.

1. Shared investment

2. Shared expenses

3. Technical expertise

4. New market penetration

5. New revenue streams

6. Intellectual property

7. Synergy

8. Credibility

9. Barriers to competition

10. Improved economies of scale

How to run partnerships like joint ventures

  1. Read the article on Joint Ventures.
  2. Setup a time with your partners to run this exercise.
  3. Create a timeline ("Partnership Memorandum") with what you each are going to do, when, how...
  4. Allow your partner to fill out the same thing (commit) right next to that timeline so they can visually match it.
  5. Then, you both sign it.
  6. Next, you take that gantt-style timeline into you Project Management solution.
  7. Finally, invite your agency to the board so they are clear where you are at and what's happening.

Partner Track

This is the presentation of the progression and benefits at each phase of your first 30, 60, 90, 120 days of partnering. 

Questions to discuss internally: 

Here's the presentation slides template > ]


Remember who you are talking to / approaching when you are in conversation so you can structure your presentation / incentives / offer to that persona.

Connor, Aptitude 8: <20 employee B2B HubSpot implementation expert agency doubling down on RevOps.

Tim, Loop Club: High-growth Shopify agency looking to create courses to build his brand and partnerships.

Gray, Zenpilot: Sells to other agencies, "Power Partner" - his entire agency is built on one partnership.

Ashley, Hawke Media: Does not refer software to clients or strategize services. She works partners into their marketing in numerous ways.

Incentives to gain commitment

Repeating: These are repeating so you are able to use them as carrots for every new partner as they onboard, any time. Repeating showcase articles, webinars, co-marketing and training round tables...

Exclusive: In order to participate in these repeating events and articles, you have to meet minimum requirements: Onboard fully, Getting one new account set up, Taking training modules...

Eyeballs: "Make them famous." It's your job to make sure your partners are in the spotlight; Directory, blog, on templates/themes/case studies... And of course, not until they finish onboarding and training.

“Partner Memorandum”

This is a part of Partner onboarding top tech and agencies use to ensure both teams are not only aligned, but have documented what each are expected to do, when and why.

Here's the template > 

Progression of the partner enablement stack

This is the typical progression of your partner enablement stack: 

  1. Phase 1: Early days - free tools like Slack and Google Drive. Zoom for meetings and events...
  2. Phase 2: Addition of an LMS and possibly a better solution for sharing assets.
  3. Phase 3: Community becomes a viable option and you need a more custom presentation software for virtual events.

Links to those tools are below.

Recommended community platforms:

  1. Lightweight - Slack - most every digital agency is already in Slack so it's an easy first community.
  2. More exciting - -founded by HubSpotters so it will become a great place for agencies.
  3. Comprehensive - - includes courses and events.


Train your team and agencies to run their partnerships like projects - waterfall-style - using Kanban/Gantt.

Step 1 - list steps / timeline
Gantt-style - create a resource for your partners to use to run it as a project.

Step 2 - find a PM solution
One with a frontend view for those with the URL - Airtable, ClickUp, Teamwork, Monday...

Step 3 - load steps and partners
Load all of the partners as tiles/tasks to the appropriate stage of the program they are in.

Resource links: 

The join venture recap article >

The list of help for your agency partners >

Partner memorandum >

Partner messaging journey >

Community platforms;

Virtual events and conferencing:

Community data:

More great resources for tech companies

The questions I get asked most about partnering with digital agencies, answered:

The questions I get asked most about partnering with digital agencies, answered:

View Resource
How to convert a new top-tier agency who brings you a user-referral to a formal Partner

How to convert a new top-tier agency who brings you a user-referral to a formal Partner

View Resource
The Upwork strategy for Agency Partner Acquisition

The Upwork strategy for Agency Partner Acquisition

View Resource