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Are you by yourself right now?

No, I don’t mean are you alone… I mean, are you the only one in your organization managing partnerships?

I know I am! And in that respect we aren’t alone… in a recent survey of 664 professionals by Hubspot and Partnership Leaders, 59.6% of the respondents reported having at least one employee working full time on partner operations.

The report went on to share some pretty interesting findings with regard to the size of partnership ops, the different kinds of partnerships and metrics involved, and the impact all of that has on company revenue.

Wanna know more?

That’s what we’re covering in today’s episode of Partnership Unpacked.

Welcome back to Partnership Unpacked, where I selfishly use this time to pick the brains of experts at strategic partnerships, channel programs, affiliates, influencer marketing, and relationship building… oh, and you get to learn too! Subscribe to learn how you can amplify your growth strategy – with a solid takeaway every episode from partnership experts in the industry.

But what does that industry really look like?

What kinds of partnerships are companies exploring today, and how are they managing that? Should you hire more staff? Invest in more partner tech? Explore more integrations?

That’s exactly what our guests today are going to talk to us about, and you and I are lucky because I have twice as many guests as usual in the studio today.

Kelly Sarabyn is the Platform Ecosystem Advocate at HubSpot, where she is responsible for growing the ecosystem through partner content and engagement. Before that, she worked in marketing at Pandium, and was a partner at Woden, a branding agency. She believes companies that leverage partnerships and ecosystems can drive more revenue and build stronger brands. And I definitely agree with her on that.

Asher Mathew is a co-founder of Partnership Leaders. He’s worked in sales, marketing, customer success and business development, as well as partnerships in venture and bootstrapped businesses.

Partnership Leaders is the top community for partnerships and alliance leaders looking to advance their career and improve their partner programs.

So clearly, we’ve got the right people on the show today!

Partnership Unpacked host Mike Allton talked to Asher Mathew & Kelly Sarabyn about:

♉️ How brands are growing using different kinds of partnerships

♉️ How different partnership programs are driving revenue, and real ROI

♉️ Why tech-savvy brands are driving more revenue from partners

Learn more about Asher Mathew

Learn more about Kelly Sarabyn

Resources & Brands mentioned in this episode

Full Notes & Transcript:

(Lightly edited)

The State of Partnership Ops in 2023 with Asher Mathew & Kelly Sarabyn

[00:00:00] Mike Allton: Are you by yourself right now? No. I don’t mean are you alone? I mean, are you the only one in your organization managing partnerships? I know I am in that respect. We aren’t alone. In a recent survey of 664 professionals by HubSpot and partnership leaders, 59.6% of their respondents reporting, having at least one employee working full.

On partner operations. The report went on to share some pretty interesting findings with regard to the size of partner ops, the different kinds of partnerships, and the metrics involved, and the impact all that has on company revenue. Wanna know more? That’s what we’re covering on today’s episode of Partnership Unpacked.

This is Partnership unpacked your Go-to Guide to Growing your Business through partnerships quickly. I’m your host, Mike Alton, and each episode unpacks the winning strategies and latest trends from influencer marketing to brand partnership. And ideas that you can apply your own business to grow exponentially.

And now the rest of today’s episode, welcome back to Partnership on Patch, where I selfishly use this time depict the brains of experts at strategic partnerships, channel programs, affiliates, influencer marketing and relationship building. And you get to learn too. Subscribe to learn how you can amplify your growth strategy with a solid takeaway.

Every episode from partnership experts in the industry. What does that industry really look like? What kinds of partnerships are companies exploring today and how are they managing that? Should you hire more staff? Should you invest in more partner tech, explore more integrations? That’s exactly what our guests today are gonna talk to us about.

And you and I are lucky cause I have twice as many guests as usual in the studio today. Kelly Serbin is a platform ecosystem advocate at HubSpot, where she’s responsible for growing the ecosystem through partner content. And engagement. Before that, she worked in marketing at Pandia and was a partner at woden, a branding agency.

She believes companies that leverage partnerships and ecosystems can drive more revenue and build stronger brands, and I definitely agree with her on that. Asher Matthew is a co-founder of Partnership Leaders. He’s worked in sales, marketing, customer success, and business development, as well as partnerships in venture and boots.

Businesses. Partnership Leaders is the top community for partnerships and alliance leaders looking to advance their career and improve their partner program. So clearly we’ve got the right people on the show today. Hey, Kelly and Asher, welcome to the show.

[00:02:42] Asher Mathew: Thanks for having us, Mike. I think that was the best intro we’ve had, period.

And Kelly and I have been doing, I think like a dozen podcasts now. Maybe more than that. You’re definitely the best.

[00:02:53] Mike Allton: Oh, well thank you for that. I appreciate it. I got dressed up just for you guys. Kelly, how are you doing? [00:02:59] Kelly Sarabyn: Hey, very well. Happy to be here. Love the topic of your show, so happy to dive into all these different issues around ops and partnerships. [00:03:08] Mike Allton: Fantastic. Now, first of all, I have to say, I loved and appreciated how you pulled this report together. You had logical separations for different aspects of partnership ops, and then offered a collection of insights from key experts and executives that I found like really enlightening. So thanks for that.

We’ll, of course have a link in the notes for those listening who want to grab that full report, and you should. But let’s start high level and then drill down. So tell me about the state of partnership ops report that you wrote and why you put it together and how it came to. Yeah,

[00:03:38] Kelly Sarabyn: I think one of the big reasons is this space is in such flux, so we’re seeing a lot of innovation around the business model in terms of going from that classic reseller channel and realizing that partners can help all the way through the sales funnel, from raising brand awareness to prospecting and ultimately to retention and upselling.

And so we really wanted to take a look and see. Where the industry is now, cuz there’s a lot of perception and anecdotal data. Um, the tech stack that partnerships people are using is rapidly changing. There was 9 billion invested from private equity in 2021. So we’re seeing a big explosion in the space and we really wanted to try to understand what our partner team’s struggling with.

How are organizations leveraging partner teams and what does the operations look like that you need to power this business model and the tech stack, right? There’s so many internal and external stakeholders that go into making partnerships successful, so it’s a real coordination problem and, and technology can be hugely beneficial, but it can also be extremely messy.

Asher, did you wanna add anything?

[00:04:53] Asher Mathew: Yeah. I would say the reason why partnership leaders partnered with HubSpot and Catalyst was because when we talk with the leaders in our community, we realized that they were doing a lot of the operational work. Which was inhibiting them from doing strategic work, which is executive level stuff.

And so we said, let’s partner again cause we’re all partnerships and create a high quality piece of content that allows companies to really dig deeper into the issues of running programmatic partner programs and take them to scale and actually investing in partner operat.

[00:05:28] Mike Allton: I definitely loved that you took the partnership approach to creating this report.

It was fantastic. And now one of the first interesting questions you asked in the report was about the types of partnerships companies are employing and diversity that you see kinda reflected in this show and perhaps heard in my introduction. And for our listeners, what were some of the different kinds of partnerships that you noted in your survey and what conclusions can you draw about them?

[00:05:53] Kelly Sarabyn: Yeah, it was really interesting to see that. Now for companies that are under the enterprise size, that technology partnerships, which by the way, depending on what space you’re in, you might go by i, SB partnerships, you might call them product partnerships, but really partnerships that are based around an integration between two different systems.

Those are the most popular, and it really makes sense because of the SAS explosion. They were also deemed to be the most important. For companies that were less than 2001 employees for the enterprise companies, they still chose resellers as their most important partners, and then solution partners and technology partners were tied for second.

So I think that’s something to keep an eye on no matter where you are in your partner journey to really understand the importance of that partner type. But I think other types of partners that are super important. Solution partners who may help to implement your product or can help to manage it over time essentially and make sure that your customers are getting the most outta it.

Um, we also have affiliate partners, right, which really are at the top of the funnel. They’re helping to bring you new customers and then referral partners, which. Different than affiliate. People often confuse them. Affiliate is more of a scaled marketing type of partner, so you are sharing links usually to drive people to your partner, but the referral is, let’s give a direct intro, which works well within the context of other partner types, which is technology partners can give each other referrals.

Solution partners can give other solution partner re referrals, and I think that’s another takeaway. A lot of these partner types, you’ll often have one organization being three or four different types of partner to you.

[00:07:41] Mike Allton: Yeah. That’s something that I noticed, that importance of integrations. Here at a Gore Pulse, we’re a SaaS company, and it’s something we hear from our sales team, from their prospects all the time.

One of the first questions we’re asked is, well, who do you integrate with? What integrations do you have? I think you linked to a MarTech survey that shows just how important integrations are in that SaaS space. Asher, did you have anything to add?

[00:08:05] Asher Mathew: No, I would just say because of our community, we could kind of tell the world is moving towards integrations and it makes sense because like more and more companies want to figure out how their workflows or like how their people’s day jobs and the tools that like attached to those day jobs have connected with each other.

So it was good to see this data upon reflected the.

[00:08:26] Kelly Sarabyn: Yeah, it was very interesting and I think something meta about the report too is one of the questions we asked is, when you’re buying a piece of partner technology, what influences your decision? And what people said overwhelmingly was the most important factor is does it integrate with other systems?

So we already knew that about marketing technology or we have over 9,000 systems at play, right? We already knew when you’re looking to replace a piece of marketing software integration is the number one factor. So, It was interesting to see that validated that in the partner technology space, which is obviously much smaller at that stage, it’s still the most important factor.

[00:09:03] Mike Allton: Absolutely. So let’s talk money when reviewing the partnership programs, and most notably which programs are driving the most revenue, you shared a conclusion about programmatic allocation of resources. I said I’d be nice. I’m gonna give you the stat you found that organizations doing that. They saw 26% of their revenue coming from partners.

But what wasn’t clear to me in the report was what was meant by programmatic allocation of partnerships. Could you explain what that means and what other conclusions you might have found regarding the implementation of programs?

[00:09:35] Asher Mathew: We did that on purpose, by the way, so people would ask the question, ,

it worked,

ensuring we could go on a series of podcasts after exactly

[00:09:49] Mike Allton: So you gotta answer the question. [00:09:50] Kelly Sarabyn: Yeah. I think this is so important. So the programmatic allocation of resource is, Every partner program, right, has certain benefits that they’re gonna be offering to their partners. And these are go-to-market benefits, but they’re also technical benefits. For example, insight into the product roadmap, help on their integration.

If someone else builds it, you still need to help with your APIs, give back advice. And a lot of programs are just doing this in an ad hoc manner. So you see partners start co-selling, right? And people start co-marketing together. Often, really the squeakiest wheel. So the partner that is best at navigating the org and being very pushy or just happens to know someone, they worked with them at another company, and so they’re co-marketing together.

That is an ad hoc distribution of resources. But as you scale, right, that’s never gonna be the best way to optimize your program. So as programs get more mature, they start to look and say, how do we prioritize partners and decide who we wanna? The most did. Who gets, you know, the very hands on touch, gets bigger co-marketing initiatives, more co-selling, and then as you go down to the lower touch partners, you design that experience with fewer resources.

So I think when a partner program. , you’re never gonna have a hundred percent of your resources allocated by those program terms And the way we phrase the questions, are you allocating most of your resources programmatically or most of ’em just ad hoc? And as you noted, we found that the ones that have the mature programs and are doing that in an intentional and strategic way are driving the most revenue from their partner program.

[00:11:34] Mike Allton: Got it. So if I wanted to do co-marketing e-books, that’s how I’m gonna do partnership with technology SaaS providers in my space instead of just, you know, deciding to do one here, one there. I would say we’re gonna do one a quarter. In 2023 with these kinds of partners, that would be I, if I’m understanding correctly, an example of programmatic allocation.

And I’d have decided in advance, you know what that involves how much money we need, time and so on. Is that right?

[00:12:04] Kelly Sarabyn: Yeah. If you decided upfront, this is the criteria of how we’re gonna pick, which partners can have this opportunity with us, and then. Obviously the ideal formation is you tie those criteria to your strategic priorities of a company and then extend that out past the ebook to all your co-marketing with partners and co-selling, and kind of dovetails those together, but exactly right in terms of like what it would look like across one bucket. [00:12:32] Asher Mathew: Got it. I can give a different example. The, if you look at most companies that have are following the account based sales and marketing program, right? They have an annual process around where they would look at their tier one, tier two, tier three accounts. So there’s tiering of accounts, right? There’s an account planning process that exists, right?

And then the marketing team comes up with entitlements for each one of those. Those entitlements include, are we gonna invite these people to experiences? Are we gonna co up their tickets? Are we going to go to our conference? Are we going to send them gifts? Are we gonna send them eBooks? Those entitlements there, right?

So, so if you look at the hearing process, And the entitlement process. So we are just calling the entitlement process, the programmatic spend. Now the example that you gave, right, where you’re like, Hey, I’m gonna have four different eBooks and they’re just gonna be on a calendar. To me, that’s like a campaign calendar or content calendar, right?

But how are you gonna activate that content with which partner you’re gonna go activate? Are you gonna give some people podcasts versus some people a book signing thing? Like, like there could be other ways, right? But what we’re advocating for is that right? As soon as you have a little bit of repeatability in your program, Because what happens is these partner programs start as an experiment, right?

Like, like there’s like seven different partners. I’ll give the typical b2b, uh, venture back, uh, scenario, right? Um, funding announcement is made and then five different partners call the CEO O up and say, Hey, we’d love to partner with you. The CEO goes, well, I don’t really know who to work with this. Let me go hire a partnership person.

And then they go, fire partnership leader. And then that person comes in and does a whole bunch of like jobs, right? Because they’re just trying to figure out how to, how to create some revenue, right? And then they’re just doing ad hoc like experimentation. But at some point in time, once there’s a line of sight to revenue, there is then a stall line of sight to repeatability.

And then once the repeatability kicks in, you should be looking at hearing partners and you should also be looking at programmatic spend because that whole motion is gonna put some stress on the organization. Cause the organization is also trying to figure out their direct go to market repeatability.

[00:14:40] Mike Allton: I think Asher, you just described what happened when I was hired. [00:14:43] Asher Mathew: Right?

all the time. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:14:49] Mike Allton: And it’s still happening, but I wanna turn now to one of another. The next topic that you talked about in the report, you were discussing deficiencies in partner programs, and at that point you’d reported that 71% of organizations are unable to track the full R ROI of partner activities due to.

Deficiencies. What were some of those issues and why are they having such an impact on reporting?

[00:15:13] Kelly Sarabyn: I think one of the big deficiencies was actually the lack of internal expertise on partner operations. So partner operations specifically is a much newer field. If you look around to try to find a senior leader, it’s hard that talent is in demand because you need someone who understands rev ops.

But who also understands partnerships, right? And ideally understands whatever particular space you’re in, because partners always looks a little bit different. So it’s really hard. And I think when you don’t have that expertise, as Asher said, it often ends up being the partner leader who has to take that on because they are the ones that know if you can’t prove R o roi, your program won’t long for this world.

Because when things get tough, your executives are gonna cut it. And so, It’s a struggle to take that on if you’re not already an ops person. It’s, it’s a very hard problem because the partner tech stack itself is relatively immature. We have some mature products that were built for the reseller channel, but all the newer ecosystem tools, many of them were founded two or three years ago, so, It requires a lot of work.

And so that was definitely listed as the biggest blocker. But then the other two, which I’m sure you’ve heard from other guests before, is internal alignment across other departments and executive buy-in. And mind you, I think these tied back to the lack of being able to show the roi, of course, because that’s what you need in order to get executive buy-in and also to get other stakeholders saying, Hey, We wanna change our processes to role in partners.

[00:16:54] Asher Mathew: I would just add to the leader side, the partner leader side of this is not enough. Leaders are pushing rigor. Because if a sales leader comes in, the first thing they do is they say, a sales process stage 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Here’s how we measure. Here’s how conversion rate looks like. There is enough empirical data in the marketplace they’re on around how much time each and opportunities should stay in each stage.

Right? That rigor, that rigor is just not widely. I would say executed inside of companies today, but it’s the partner leaders for responsibility. Cuz then they do this like shiny object syndrome thing, right? Where they’re like this partner, that partner, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, right? I just feel like if there was more rigor established upfront, then this problem wouldn’t exist and they would effectively be able to say like, we’re gonna have good revenue, then we’re gonna get repeatability, then we’re gonna push all this stuff with rigor and that’s gonna equal resource.

The other executives are doing the same thing, right? The marketing executive is doing the same thing. The customer success executive is doing the same thing and the sales executives doing the same thing. So if they just do the same thing, they’re gonna find an unlock on resources.

[00:18:02] Mike Allton: And do you think that’s just a reflection of the immaturity of the partnership industry?

Cause I know that was a kind of a recurring theme in the.

[00:18:11] Asher Mathew: Yeah. So the qualitative side of this thing would be that there are a lot of, let’s call it partner leaders that have the channel background. And channel was looked at a very transactional way, right? So the channel leaders were just acquisition leaders in a way, and in most cases they were.

Outside or field SDRs in a way, right? Because like some of them, Carrie quota, some didn’t, some found opportunities, some didn’t. Like, there was just a lot of like, like, but the partner leaders are actually looking at the customer journey and also implementing the partner journey along the customer journey, which means there’s a pre-sales part of the journey and then there’s a post-sale part of the journey, right?

And then how does this like journey look like and how do we augment this journey with the customer journey and bring these, like let’s say, quote unquote two funnels together. And that when that happens, like if you just do that in a loosey-goosey manner, you’re gonna confuse everybody in the organization, right?

And then when that happens, five executives go complain to the c e o about the partner program, and guess what gets next? It’s a partner program. Yeah, it’s OK to say it. It’s really ok. Cause like we’re making this, but now you have like a whole generation, I mean there’s 300 of them in partnership leaders, right?

These people are not, you’re not gonna find them to be like, Hey, do you wanna go for happy hour? Or something like that. They don’t do that. They’re trying to figure out like how do we become like partner CROs, if you wanna call it our partner operators, right? They’re like, here are the metrics, here’s how we, and a lot of the work thanks to Kelly and like stuff that HubSpot is supporting us with is just pushing in.

How do you use these tools now to orchestrate your partner program? Actually, Kelly just did, did you already do this? The how do you run your partner program on HubSpot yet or, or is it coming up? That’s next week. Okay. Yeah. So yeah, so they’re actually doing, so the work that Kelly and HubSpot are actually like doing to help a whole, like I would say generation of partner leaders implement rigor in their system, I think will actually like solve this.

[00:20:07] Mike Allton: I love this conversation and I love the segue that you just teed up for me because you’re talking about the approach from channel partners and how they’re not really attributing and they’re not putting in the rigor, like you said. And I’ve got a message from our CMO who’s talking about basically the same thing when it comes to social media and shame on us because social media has not, new social media has been around for a long.

And we’re not treating it like the channel we should. So let’s hear it from Daryl Praill.

It’s the Arc de Triumph. Can you imagine if you’re in charge, if you’re the CMO of marketing Paris, what are your main channels? Wow. There’s the Arc de Triumph, there’s the Eiffel Tower, there’s the Louvre. Those are your channels.

You’re gonna use the drive tourism dollars in. Okay, now, but you’re not the CMO of Paris. In fact, you’re the CMO of your company product service. So what are your main channels? So I’m gonna. There things like paper click, maybe trade shows, events, maybe content. Those are all pretty predictable, right? Let me ask you this question.

Are you treating social media as a main channel? By the way, only 1.8% of you today measure social media and can prove an ROI in that investment. HubSpot and Gartner say, social media’s the number one channel to invest in this. Are you doing it? If not, I can tell you why you’re not doing it, because you don’t have the tools.

If you don’t have the mentality. And that’s okay. We’ve got you covered. You changed the mentality. We’ll give you the tool. We Pulse tracks all the ROI for you. One place to manage all your social media activity, your number one channel, change your success. Treat social media as a channel one CMO to another.

My name is Daryll. I’m with Agorapulse. I’ll talk.

All right. Let’s talk partner technology. Now go, Paul,

[00:21:58] Asher Mathew: before we go there, can we just talk about what, what Dar just said? Yeah. It’s actually a fantastic point, right? And we’ll take a little bit of a segue from the partnerships and just to like podcasting for example, right? And so I’ll tell a story. It’s so I was a c o of this company called Band Matrix, and I joined this company and literally like we’re in Covid.

And I’m like, fantastic. A company is gonna go down on my watch. My entire record is ruined. Right? And so, because you know, what was happening back then is like outbound was done. Like nobody was thinking about outbound. Like you could get executives if you call them around four twenty five, four twenty seven in the afternoon, or even like five 15, like, I mean, we had the, the metrics around this, uh, this dial to connect you.

And so one person on my, on my team basically said, Hey, let’s do podcasts because people are still coming on podcasts, right? So long story short, We did what Darryl said, and we basically mapped out the entire podcast like process, like it was literally like a podcast PR process, right? It had stages in it.

And we went from Discovery, which is like the first podcast meeting to a deal, and when we were done with the process, we’d realized we, we invested 40 K in the, in the podcast. And we saw 1.4 million source return from the podcast. And so what Darryl’s saying absolutely is the right thing is just again, we go back to the rigor, right?

A lot of us do this as a education slash like entertaining or what we call it, edu Entertainment channel, right? Mm-hmm. . But like if you build a process behind it, you know, like you can actually get a pretty good roi.

[00:23:27] Mike Allton: Oh, for sure. I had a previous guest, Adrian McIntyre, you listeners, you go back and listen to this past episode with Adrian and he produces podcasts for other brands.

And they’ve a very, very specific process that they go through. And the whole idea there isn’t to get a million followers. You’re not gonna get that as a B2B brand that’s behind the sky. But what you will be able to do is sit down with the CMO of a Target brand. This is basically account based marketing, right?

Sit down with that CMO and develop a relationship with him or. And then nurture that relationship after the interview cuz you’re repurposing the podcast and you’re sharing the episodes and you’re making them look and sound. Fantastic. Yep. And you can seed questions in the podcast and follow up with them after the fact.

Say, Hey, we were talking about this in the interview and I noticed you said that and I don’t know, that’s something that we can help you with if you’re open to having that conversation. It was really brilliant approach. To your point, you know, they could measure exactly, you know, how many conversations did they have?

[00:24:26] Asher Mathew: Yep. Where did those lead to? From there, how much business, how many does you need to get to the first conversation? I mean, like the whole thing can be operationalized. And then if you do it, like, you know, you actually turn podcasts into a revenue generating activity and you can just see all those and you can just do first touch, right?

You can basically see podcast source revenue and you know, I guess we’re about to talk about like partner source revenue and stuff like that too, but like this channel actually works.

[00:24:50] Mike Allton: Yeah, and maybe I’m doing it right here with this podcast. Totally. [00:24:54] Asher Mathew: Kelly has more than I just, I’ll just it straight off [00:25:00] Mike Allton: Yeah. So let’s, let’s talk tech. I was gonna say that, you know, at a Gore pulse I’ve got a PRM system for channel partners. I’m using it’s first promoter and I’ve been exploring how to employ things like Real Reveal and Crossbeam so I can work more closely with partners and sales and marketing efforts and.

As a team of one, within a company of under 200 employees, my tech stack seems to align with your report findings. But what caught my eye was there was a statistic that over half of the companies using at least one partner tech system were driving 26% more revenue from partners. So the question. Why do you think that is?

[00:25:38] Kelly Sarabyn: I think because if you use it right then you are gonna get so much by way of efficiency and actionable data and it’s just gonna be able to not only drive more revenue producing activity, it’s gonna help you to track it. So it’s, I think it’s twofold and where it’s adding the benefit. There’s also. The self selection, right?

People who are farther along the journey and have more intelligence around partnerships have investigated these tools and availed the ones that are useful into their text back. So I think that’s part of it as well. But I really do. Think it’s, you know, the bespoke high-touch relationships can be valuable, but they’re not gonna scale.

It’s too resource intensive, and it’s always just gonna be a bucket of partners. When you wanna take it to the next level, you need technology.

[00:26:36] Mike Allton: That makes a lot of sense. And again, it’s that underlying theme of the more mature your organization is overall and with partners specifically, the more time and resources and attention you can devote.

I went through an exercise early 2022 where I needed a new virtual event platform, and so I went and reached out to all the major virtual event platforms are something we were talking about before the show, right? With hopin Well, Sales demos with Hopin and Who Below. And Cvent. And Kaltura and 20 other platforms.

And that was like all that I did that month. Cause it so time consuming. So for a partner operations department where you just have one or two people, they don’t have time to look at all the other tools that are out there. They don’t have time to think about, you know, how could we. Streamline what we’re doing.

Is there another tool if that’s not brought to their attention? Yeah, that’s gonna be a challenge. Ash, did you have anything to add to that?

[00:27:34] Asher Mathew: I’m just surprised there’s not podcast operations. Maybe after this podcast there’s gonna be podcast operations coming up too. . [00:27:40] Mike Allton: Yeah. Well, but it’s true. [00:27:43] Asher Mathew: If you felt the pain of like bringing all these tools together and just like getting a partnering done in a day.

And you then find a tool. You are going for the tool. Because if you think about it, there’s what Kelly? There’s what? 232 tools in the stack right now.

[00:27:56] Kelly Sarabyn: 2 53. The last time David Vain released, uh, released the landscape. [00:28:01] Asher Mathew: Alright, so let’s just say there’s 300 tools, right? I would pause it and say 285 of them were built like 10 years.

And so the modern tooling is actually better integrated into the systems of record that sales and marketing teams are using. . And so when you have that, there’s a better user experience, which means the tool actually fits into your workflow, which means it helps you get your job done faster because you are not adopting a legacy workflow and like trying to figure out how they used to do things 15 years ago.

You’re like, this is how things work today. My tool works with me. Fantastic. I’m gonna get my.

[00:28:43] Kelly Sarabyn: I’m gonna push back on that though. I think the integrations of the newer tools are very immature. So while they have built integrations to Salesforce and HubSpot and kind of the systems of record in general, they’re still pretty thin.

They don’t do what all that they need to do, and I think that we’re gonna see. Big change in that around the next two to three years. But I think their advantages, even though they’re lighter tools, they are designed, as Asher said, for the workflows of today, not the workflows of yesterday. So in a lot of cases, it’s gonna be the better option.

You’re just gonna have to support it with your own. Systems, processes, and honestly probably at scale dev work,

[00:29:25] Mike Allton: that’s one of the things that kind of excite [00:29:26] Asher Mathew: me. By the way, Kelly does this all the time. She’s will like disagree with me and they’ll be like, oh, here’s one point that he set out of like the whole thing that he said actually makes sense [00:29:34] Mike Allton: That’s why I brought Kelly on the show. Exactly. [00:29:37] Asher Mathew: That’s why we do these things together. Like it’s just a fun. Much better setup up when we do these things together. , [00:29:43] Kelly Sarabyn: someone has to fact check you, Asher. We don’t exactly. We don’t want fake news spreading [00:29:48] Mike Allton: fake news, fake tech. [00:29:50] Asher Mathew: You know, , that’s what we’re, we’re getting to right now. [00:29:54] Mike Allton: Yeah, but I was excited because the report. Another underlying theme that I picked out was that partnership programs are maturing, they are getting more popular, brands are investing more money. And so to take that comparison to the virtual event space, again due to the pandemic, the virtual event industry exploded and resources poured into those platforms.

And that was one of the reasons why I did that exercise last year was because there had been so many changes in the previous 18 months. So many improvements in developments to virtual event. That I needed to go back and do my due diligence. You know, the Hey Summit and, and many other platforms that I’d used years prior were totally different now.

So I’m excited that hopefully that’s happening. Yep. With the partnership tech space.

[00:30:43] Kelly Sarabyn: And I think that problem’s real about the time that it takes to keep up when you have a space where you have rapidly changing tech. And I would say, you know, that’s a good argument for being active in the community and joining organizations like partnership leaders because, People have already done the work, right?

And you can just post and say, Hey, what did, what did you assess on this? What was the matrix you used? Because as you said earlier, taking 20 meetings where you’re getting the demos and doing all that due diligence yourself, if that’s not your full-time job. It’s a lot of bandwidth. Yeah,

[00:31:16] Mike Allton: yeah, for sure. Now let’s talk about key performance indicators.

Cause I thought it was fascinating, not only how many different KPI were being tracked, but how the number and which metrics tracked, depended on the size of the partnership team. Can you kinda walk us through what you found with regard to kpi? Confusion.

[00:31:40] Kelly Sarabyn: I think unsurprisingly right, because of the traditional channel model, source revenue was still the KPI that was being used most pervasively. Having said that influenced revenue was, was used by the majority of companies. So I think that was an interesting finding because that gets into. More variable ways that partners can help along the customer journey that Asher was referencing.

So I do think that was interesting and we saw more mature programs using more KPIs, which I think is another reference to the fact that they’re reckon rising the diversity of both partner types, but also. Partner points on the customer journey and how their teams need to be driving, not just the sourced, which is like the traditional model of either you just got in a new account or someone resold it for you, but how can you use tools like Reveal and Crossbo, for example, to collaborate on open opportunities or honestly just to influence the deals and drive retention after you have joint customer?

[00:32:48] Mike Allton: Yeah, that’s artistic on influenced revenue is literally something I, I’ll be sharing with my executive team because they recently poo-pooed the whole idea of any kind of influenced revenue. I’m like, mm, no . This is what the bigger, smarter, more mature brands are doing. We need to do more of that. [00:33:05] Asher Mathew: I’m about to get kicked off of this podcast in 30 seconds. [00:33:09] Mike Allton: Here we go. I got the button ready. . [00:33:12] Asher Mathew: So it is interesting cause like every podcast that we do, you know, this is the benefit of like doing podcasts together with a partner, which I would by the way, highly recommend that people find somebody who’s gonna be on the journey with them on doing multiple podcasts because you can actually like pick different points from different podcast episodes that you do together and bring together, right?

And so I. Three podcasts ago that Kelly and I did, we got into this like partner source versus partner influenced like this whole like conversation. And because my background is sales, I’m like, forget influence, it doesn’t really matter. Like, you know, like who cares, right? But then I also had the benefit of like good fortune of like working at a band base.

And so I actually had to learn like how marketing works. And so my way of like rationalizing this at a board level or even like at an executive level, There are like, I think, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 different things that came up in the report from source rev, uh, revenue, all the way to increased retention. And you can actually take just what’s written there.

And this is, by the way, for people listening, this is page 40 in the report. You can actually create a partner scorecard from this and take all the sourced and sourced ish type of things, like number of active integrations, et cetera, et cetera, partner profitability, and put them in the partner sales. And then take the influence, revenue and all that stuff.

Put it and traffic and leads generator, put it in the partner marketing bucket, and then take the increased retention and the customer satisfaction and partner attached account stuff that’s in the report. Put it in the partner success bucket. And there’s gonna be a through channel partner success motion.

We’re gonna talk about that as gain set gets into the market. Right? And now we have a partner scorecard and so, but at the end of the day when you get go into a meeting with the cfo, Like that person. And most CFOs are very dry, right? Do not care about any type of influence stuff. They’re just looking at everything because they’re, the way they’ve been taught, the way they speak is like a p and l statement, right?

So like on a p and l statement, there’s no bucket for like influence. And so, so that’s why like new way of thinking is like you have some partner sales metrics if you want influence, put ’em in a partner marketing bucket. But definitely like create a score. And then present that because that then gives your executives a holistic view of what this partnership thing is all about.

[00:35:23] Mike Allton: Ding ding Kelly, your turn. . [00:35:27] Kelly Sarabyn: You’re not helping Mike, who? CMO is probably listening to this podcast. [00:35:33] Asher Mathew: 30 seconds in [00:35:35] Mike Allton: the podcast. I’ll just edit that part out. It’s fine. [00:35:41] Kelly Sarabyn: So I think what Asher’s correct about is that, especially now when the economy’s really tough, source revenue is always gonna be the gold standard of proving out value. But the truth of the matter is influenced revenue has a huge impact on the bottom line. And that’s a fact in organizations that are.

More mature, have built out models where they can determine the relative weight of different types of influence, and they recognize it up to the C-suite level. And people who are already in those organizations are in a better spot currently right now because they’re already seeing the value and they’ve already proved it out with enough data.

If you’re starting at the top of the journey right now, it’s a lot harder because. Everybody’s kind of in conservative mode, risk-adverse, trying to really focus on the shorter term, right? That’s just human nature. When times are tough, people start to think shorter term, and so it is gonna be a more challenging thing to implement in your organization right now, but we.

Do know that it is having an impact. So in a sense, you’re doing it at your own peril. If you just turn away from that fact. It’s kind of when marketers talk about dark social, right? Hmm. There’s a lot of stuff that we know can’t be tracked, but in the aggregate has a huge influence. Same thing with brand, right?

Brands, marketing teams have long been in this position where, You cannot prove it out because there’s always too many exogenous variables happening at the same time when you make a brand change. But we all know that brand has a huge impact and positioning has a huge impact in your ultimate success.

Mm-hmm. . So I think, you know, smart executives and smart organizations will see that this form of influence. Really tremendously impacts the growth of the company in the long term. So I would say ignore it at your own peril, but I also nod to the fact of people’s mindset, especially now, you might be stuck in a company where you’re just not gonna make headway.

[00:37:49] Mike Allton: Yeah, I can agree with things that you’re both saying and. We’re gonna keep coming back to that point where less mature the company is, the more challenge it’s going to be to accomplish these kinds of things. Cause if you’re not mature in your partner tech stack, you’re probably not mature in other areas of your company.

So are you really attributing all the traffic and revenue that you’re getting? Correctly. Right. How do you know what is partner influenced and how do you know the impact over time of that partnership channel? I mean, those are questions that Yeah. A lot of companies can’t ask.

[00:38:21] Asher Mathew: And, and, and did you actually then go and.

Collaborate with like the marketing team cuz they actually have a very good system set up to track influence. Uh, actually question to Kelly. Does HubSpot do partner influence?

[00:38:36] Kelly Sarabyn: So you’re talking about a couple of different types of influence, right? Like you marketing can run some of the influence, but you also have, uh, sales influence, right?

So you bring in a partner who provides deal intel, correct. But they didn’t source the deal. Yep. That is partner influence. So I think. It’s gonna have to align with other departments and it, and it is a good call. It’s maybe other departments have tools and frameworks and even systems that you can, can co-op.

But I’ll just sides up the question about what, how Hub HubSpot is doing internally. ?

[00:39:07] Asher Mathew: Well, I just asked cause the earning report actually says 50% of revenue comes from partners. And I don’t think that’s like, Influence revenue. I think that’s just like pretty close to source revenue. [00:39:18] Kelly Sarabyn: So I’ll say we just revamped our solution partner program because we wanted to make it more aligned with recognizing our partners who aren’t sourcing as many deals, but they’re servicing the HubSpot accounts over time.

Right? So we did make that change. We were more focused on who’s sourcing these deals and we see the long term value of the partners who may not be bringing in that many new deals, but they’ve been managing a lot of HubSpot accounts and managing them well and retaining those customers. That’s extremely valuable to us as a company.

So I do think we. Are aware of the different ways that partners can bring value and we are trying to continue to update our programs and our way of tracking to reflect that.

[00:40:05] Asher Mathew: I actually think that like as time goes by, we will have like this whole concept of partner success and the partner success KPIs will actually then drive.

Programs in the customer success umbrella through partners, and this lane that you just talked about will actually become even more clearer there. And then there are resources already available in the, let’s call it chief customer Officer organization to then and budget, by the way, to like devote to partners.

And I think it’s coming. We’re, we’re still stuck with the, as I said, the pre-sales piece of it because most people that are in partnerships and even in tech partnerships right, come from the channel world.

[00:40:44] Mike Allton: I’ll give a shout out to HubSpot cuz we implemented HubSpot 18, 24 months ago at a Agora Pulse and we were able to quickly mature our attribution model and we’re starting to get to the point where we’re seeing partnership influenced.

Deals mostly again, with the channel partnerships like you’ve been talking about, you know. But as we’re starting to bring in, you know, sales partnerships using like Reveal and Cross Me like we talked about, those metrics are going to be there. They’re just fields that we can toggle and, and add to the reporting.

So it is able to tell that as a platform.

[00:41:17] Asher Mathew: So I’ll end with this one thing because I think this is gonna be the learning from this podcast, right? It. Because it’s interesting cause we were in, in another webinar, somebody actually asked like, what is sourced revenue? Right? Like, like how does it actually work?

Right? And so maybe they’re like, at some point in time, Kelly, you, me and Mike should do another session and like, like June, July of this year and talk about this thing. But there are specific ways that you source revenue from your partners and there are playbooks already built. And then when you go and think about like what is the influence playbook?

You’ll see that a lot of those influenced playbooks are very similar to the marketing playbooks that already exist. And so it may not be like, again, I’m just riffing with you guys and Galaxy, right. What we’re talking about may be true or even lower than like extremely large companies is just, we just haven’t found a way to actually collaborate more closely with the marketing teams and take their playbooks that have already already been established and then changing them or adopting some of that stuff for our.

[00:42:12] Mike Allton: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Yeah. It’s all about learning. [00:42:15] Asher Mathew: Should we get Darryl on this podcast? [00:42:17] Mike Allton: Yeah, right. You know, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you know, standing on the shoulders of greatness and so on. So, is there anything else real quick that you want to add? Anything else that stood out from the report that we didn’t already touch on? [00:42:29] Asher Mathew: I would say this sort reporting structure thing was a very interesting one, right? Like, again, no surprise there that like most people reported to CROs and then Oh yeah, the organizational structure. Yeah. Yeah. And then most Siemens reported CRO CROs. And then the second is like CEOs. But I think there is a model where the partner.

Let’s call it leaders, right? Like let’s say you have a chief partner officer, but then all these direct reports actually live in other teams and their dotted line, or they live in under him or her and their dotted line to other leaders, right? There’s a model there that hasn’t fully been deployed yet, right?

But I think it, it’s coming and it just depends on like, you know, how strongly does the CEO actually believe in partnerships?

[00:43:14] Mike Allton: Totally agree with that. Kelly, anything else you wanted to add? [00:43:17] Kelly Sarabyn: No, I just doubled down on what we kind of covered here. That, you know, thinking about the stuff strategically and putting an operational eye to it and a programmatic eye to it is what’s gonna move you forward no matter.

What stage you’re at. If you’re younger, it just won’t be as robust and built out, but it’s still important to think about it strategically from day one so that you have that mindset in place and you can move it forward on those wheels instead of letting things be kind of the wild west. And then you find you have 200 partners, 20 of ’em who are active and, and trying to figure out how to recalibrate is a lot tougher than if you think about it strategically from day.

[00:43:55] Mike Allton: Couldn’t agree more. Love it. Guys. This has been such a fun geek out session. I appreciate that. , I want you to be able to tell the folks where they can learn more about you, your organizations, where they can connect with you. Ash, let’s you start first. [00:44:09] Asher Mathew: Oh, let’s Kelly start first. [00:44:10] Mike Allton: Okay. Kelly, you go first. [00:44:12] Kelly Sarabyn: I’m pretty easy. You can find me on LinkedIn. Uh, how’s, happy to connect and chat there. Uh, you can go to hubspot.com and, uh, you wanna learn more about HubSpot and our Harner programs. If you’re in MarTech, service tech or sales Tech, always happy to connect on that. [00:44:27] Asher Mathew: Partnership leaders needs to pay Kelly more so case she can say, we can also find her in the pl slack [00:44:32] Kelly Sarabyn: That’s true. I am always in partnership Leader Slack. You can DM me there. . [00:44:37] Asher Mathew: Sometimes people are like, you’re our Slack more than you’re in your own Slack, you know? So , it’s funny. We totally appreciate all the support that she had and hope are giving us. For me, you know, partnership leaders is www.partnershipleaders.com.

Again, you can find me on LinkedIn, but I would highly encourage you if you’re in partnerships, to think about joining a community where you have a safe space to have the conversation or, or maybe have hard conversations and you’ll find like deep connections because the people who are at the leading edge of building modern partner programs are all in there.

They’re figuring it out, and we created the space. For you all. And then the last blog I’ll make is our conference is coming up in August and it’s called Catalyst and it’s a home for new ideas and people, again forming deep connections. And so you can find more information about that on www.joincatalyst.com.

[00:45:26] Mike Allton: Love it. And Catalyst, is that virtual or in person? [00:45:28] Asher Mathew: This is in person and it’s in Denver. We did it last year. We budgeted for 200 people and 450 showed up. And this year we want to budget for 750, but if a thousand show up, like we won’t have the same problems that we had last year. Cuz we literally had to tell people, no, you can’t come.

And that’s pretty sad when you’re trying to create an industry.

[00:45:47] Mike Allton: That’s okay. That happens. That’s a good problem to have, right? Too many people are interested. [00:45:51] Kelly Sarabyn: Love it. That that was a humble brag from As . [00:45:54] Mike Allton: Yeah, . [00:45:55] Asher Mathew: Oh, actually, if you were the person who actually Hadactually said no to people when they’re like, I will pay $3,000 for this ticket.

Right? You would say be like then. Then there’s not a humble brag. It’s actually sad cuz you’re. As a revenue leader, you’re like, oh, well there’s a lot of money. I could take this, right . But then you’re like, well, there’s the fire margins on the other side. They’re gonna kick us out. And you’re like, oh man, this person’s really nice.

They would be awesome. Addition to the, to the whole group. So yeah, sometimes I do humble brag, but not at this one. , , right?

[00:46:22] Mike Allton: Love it. I’m definitely gonna look into coming into that conference and join our partnership leaders. Thank you both so, so much. Folks. That’s all we’ve got for today. Please find us on Apple, drop us review.

Love to know what you think. We’ll see you next.

[00:46:36] Asher Mathew: Thanks for having us. [00:46:40] Mike Allton: Thank you for listening to another episode of Partnership Unpacked, hosted by Mike Alton, empowered by a Agora Pulse, the number one rated social media management solution, which you can learn more [email protected]. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe on your favorite podcast player. Be sure to leave us a review.

Your feedback is important to us. And if you wanna be a part of our audience during live broadcasts, take a look at our calendar at agorepulse.com slash calendar. Until next time.


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