Who makes a good design partner?

Choosing the right design partner(s) is your most critical decision.


3 min read

The most important thing to know is: not every customer should be a design partner.

Think about your design partner program as a secret club where you only want to let a specific group of customers in.

You are a gatekeeper

It is difficult and time-consuming to make a design partner successful, so you want to keep the bar high for participation. You also need to be sure your partner understands the nature of what they are signing up for (more on that in a later post).

What makes a good design partner?

A good design partner understands what makes you unique

The ideal partner is motivated by a design to make your vision a reality. Why are you building something that is better than what can be purchased from a competitor?

As part of your acceptance criteria, you need to be confident that your prospect understands this clearly. If they don't, they go into your regular sales/engagement funnel.

Design partners have a selfish motivation

It's not enough that they want to see you succeed, a design partner needs to clearly understand the benefits for themselves.

Of course, every customer needs to understand this, but a design partner needs to be able to justify an above-average commitment of time and attention. That's a high bar and if you don't meet it then you will find your design partners lose interest quickly.

Regular check-ins are critical to maintaining excitement and alignment around your program. Without that, customers will lose interest and find it hard to continue to invest their time.

Design partners can prioritize work

Your partner needs to be able to dedicate their own time and often their team's time. That often means that the right design partner isn't an IC or even an executive. Often it's a Product or Engineering Manager who desperately wants to solve the problem you are addressing

Design partners engage quickly

One way prospects show their commitment is with their money. The other way is with their time and attention.

How do you know if a prospective partner is serious to not? They don't waste time.

If they join your Slack, show up for recurring meetings, and prioritize the work they need to do to unlock great feedback, then you've found yourself a diamond in the rough.

Design Partner qualification checklist: ๐Ÿ“

  1. Understands what makes you unique
  2. Have clear and defined goals for themselves
  3. Can prioritize the work needed.
  4. Engage quickly and reliably

Now that you know who and what to look for, it's time to go find these mythical unicorns.

Hold on tight, now things are about to get real!


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