Partner Relationship Management (PRM): The Ultimate Channel Sales & Partnerships Podcast

15 - The State of Partner Ops & Programs Report: Results & Key Takeaways

December 12, 2022 Magentrix PRM Season 1 Episode 15
15 - The State of Partner Ops & Programs Report: Results & Key Takeaways
Partner Relationship Management (PRM): The Ultimate Channel Sales & Partnerships Podcast
More Info
Partner Relationship Management (PRM): The Ultimate Channel Sales & Partnerships Podcast
15 - The State of Partner Ops & Programs Report: Results & Key Takeaways
Dec 12, 2022 Season 1 Episode 15
Magentrix PRM

Let us know what you think of the podcast.

The first-of-its-kind report on the state of the partnerships industry. Hear the latest trends in Partner Ops, partner programs, and ecosystem strategy – all from an impressive roster of partnership leaders.

We’ve invited two key contributors, Kelly Sarabyn (Platform Ecosystem Advocate @ HubSpot) and Asher Mathew (Founder @ Partnership Leaders), to discuss their findings and key takeaways. 

On today’s episode, you’ll hear discussion around:

  • Insights from vendors leading the world's most successful partner ecosystems 
  • What’s to come for partner professionals in the evolving ecosystems space
  • What the authors have discovered since publishing this report

This production is brought to you by Magentrix ✨💜
Magentrix is a pioneer in platforms for partner ecosystem management and partner relationship management 🤝

If you haven't already, please like 👍 & subscribe! ✅ And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ See instructions to do so at the end of the episode.

To learn about Magentrix PRM, please visit


Podcast Credits:
Host: Paul Bird
Executive Producer: Fereshta Nouri
Content & Research: Fereshta Nouri
Graphics & Branding: Fereshta Nouri

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Let us know what you think of the podcast.

The first-of-its-kind report on the state of the partnerships industry. Hear the latest trends in Partner Ops, partner programs, and ecosystem strategy – all from an impressive roster of partnership leaders.

We’ve invited two key contributors, Kelly Sarabyn (Platform Ecosystem Advocate @ HubSpot) and Asher Mathew (Founder @ Partnership Leaders), to discuss their findings and key takeaways. 

On today’s episode, you’ll hear discussion around:

  • Insights from vendors leading the world's most successful partner ecosystems 
  • What’s to come for partner professionals in the evolving ecosystems space
  • What the authors have discovered since publishing this report

This production is brought to you by Magentrix ✨💜
Magentrix is a pioneer in platforms for partner ecosystem management and partner relationship management 🤝

If you haven't already, please like 👍 & subscribe! ✅ And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ See instructions to do so at the end of the episode.

To learn about Magentrix PRM, please visit


Podcast Credits:
Host: Paul Bird
Executive Producer: Fereshta Nouri
Content & Research: Fereshta Nouri
Graphics & Branding: Fereshta Nouri

Paul Bird:

Please welcome Kelly Sarabyn and Asher Mathew. They're both here with us today to discuss some key highlights of their report, The State of Partner Ops and Programs.

Please welcome Kelly and Asher. It's great to have you here, guys.

Kelly Sarabyn:

Thanks for having us.

Asher Mathew:

Looking forward to this. Anytime I can do something with Kelly, it's an awesome time, and now we get to do it with you.

Paul Bird:

Perfect. Let's get started with the basics.

Can you tell us how you came up with the idea of putting this report together? How was the idea hatched and born?

Kelly Sarabyn:

Sure. I was sort of thinking of the space and sort of where we are as a partnership practice.

And you're probably familiar with Jay McBain’s Channel Landscape. Every year, he's tracking the partner technology, and year-over-year it's growing exponentially. But a lot of that technology is still only a couple of years old. Other sections are much older, but they're adjusting to a changing business model.

We have a very complex problem around that landscape. And so, I thought it would be interesting to conduct a survey to supplement the graphic of having all these different tools and to dig into what can you do with these tools; what are people currently doing with the tools, and the broader operations problem around that.

I ran it by my boss, Scott Brinker, he said he thought it was a great idea and then I reached out to Jay to see if he wanted to collaborate on it, which he did.

And he suggested we rope in Partnership Leaders because Partnership Leaders has this awesome community of people who are thinking about this stuff strategically, which is really what the report is. Ultimately, of the most interest is how you lay out the whole strategy and structure of your partnerships and your program.

Paul Bird:

So, what did you hope to accomplish with the report?

Kelly Sarabyn:

I wanted to get some market data. I think right now, we're living in the world of anecdote, intuition, and experience, which is valuable, but doesn't always align with reality. Most of what we hear in this space is anecdotal.

This company did X this company did Y, which can be good learnings but really, we need some data that's much broader.

So, the fact that we're able to get over 650 responses to this survey gave us some market insight into what companies of different industries and different sizes are doing, and the results that we're seeing.

That was definitely one of my big goals.

Asher, if you want to share what your goals were.

Asher Mathew:

Yeah, totally.

What I can share is, when we started Partnership Leaders, we focused on the people. We said we need to figure out how we help people understand how they're going to progress in their partnerships career.

Because of the learnings from Martech and Salestech, and marketing operations and sales operations, we always knew that if and when these partner people scale their functions, and if there is a macro trend supporting partnerships, you are going to need solid operational help.

Anytime a CRO today gets hired, more often than not, their first request is to hire a revenue operations person.

When a CMO gets hired, they're asking for marketing operations and marketing analytics in their first headcount request.

Because I'd been part of this journey with LeanData, where we brought revenue operations to market with this data analyst called Datatheiran,

I figured that if and when, we see these partner people scale their functions, there is going to be a need for this role.

When Kelly reached out, it was a very surrender moment because we realized there isn't any benchmark data.

You can't go do something about something when you don't know where you're at.

So we said, let's go on this journey, and learn about where is the market at.

Because we have, I would say, one of the most highly engaged communities out in the world right now, definitely the most highly engaged community in partnerships, we said, Let's take this idea to our members. 

So when we polled a few of our members, they said let's go do this. In Partnership Leaders, we have tiers.

We have a tier for individual contributors. We have a tier for managers. A tier for leaders, and we have a tier for, executives, C-level people.

The leaders and the executive board said, yes, we need this.

If we can get this benchmark data, it will help us in planning. When we were working on schedules, it happened that we would drop this report in November.

Dropping the report in November meant that people can use this data in their fiscal planning.

Paul Bird:

Oh, absolutely, for sure.

And you do have such a highly engaged community.

So how did you pick and choose the key players that you would be involving and adding to the report?

Asher Mathew:

Kelly, do you wanna take a stab at that?

Kelly Sarabyn:

When you say adding to it, are you referring to the contributions that were in the report?

Paul Bird:

Exactly the contributors.

Kelly Sarabyn:

It's really important to us to get people who are practitioners and do this at a scaled ecosystem.

I think no matter what stage company you are if you're a leader, you're going to want to be thinking about what it takes to scale.

If you don't put those processes in place, you are going to accumulate so much aberrational debt that a lot of times, you can't recover it, because it would be so expensive to pull processes in the partner experience out. You’re just kinda stuck.

We wanted to take that view of contributors who were doing this at scale, and ask them: What are your best practices?

Give us your best tips and advice so that people can read that, and implement it.

We wanted this not just to be a summary of where people are, which is a lot of what the data is, although it also unpacked a little around what works.

But then to get into more detail of, how you go about doing this. We were looking for ecosystems that we saw were doing this well.

Paul Bird:

Very good.

Asher Mathew:

If you double-click on the people that were selected for this report, you'll see that they were in their companies at a time of change. So if you think about Connie Wu at Asana, the work she did at DocuSign was an explosive growth period.

Or you'd take a look at Jeff Roth who was trying to figure out, how do I take a somewhat scaled integrations ecosystem and scale it even further and monetize it.

When I left Avalara, I think there were 600 integrations. Today, Avalara has 1,100 integrations.

These people are already operating at scale, but they're thinking about, how do I go to a larger scale.

Which means they have made all the mistakes that all of the Partnership Leaders members are going to make.

We wanted people in this report who, when people read the report and have questions, can go back to ask them.

And most of the people that were contributors are in the community already. They're literally one Slack away.

Paul Bird:


One of the curious things when I saw the report was the title, The State of Partner Ops and Programs.

Before we dive into the specifics of the report, can you define the term Partner Ops for people that aren't familiar with it?

Kelly Sarabyn:

I would define it as implementing processes and systems that optimize business outcomes.

Asher can take a stab at a different definition. I think that he’s looking it up on the internet.

Asher Mathew:

We had a webinar where this question was asked.

I know this is a podcast, and I don't know if you can share a slide or not, but they originally wanted to call these people pop stars because there's like a conference called OpsStars, which I was part of.

But then we're like, we can call them pop stars.

We have to first define what partner ops means, right? The definition that I'm going to give you, is more of a personal philosophy I have where leaders should be awesome at three different things.

They should have a strategic skillset, which really means: How do I uncover hidden pockets of opportunity?

And they should have this inspirational skillset, which means, how do I inspire people 1:1, 1:10, 1:100, 1:1000, and 1:10000?

That's a journey that a lot of leaders have to go through before they got on stage in front of 100,000 people.

And then there's an operational skill set. The operational skill set is about systems and processes and programs, and analytics.

If you look at inspiration there's always partner comms and partner enablement. Enablement teams can actually help you with that.

If you look at strategic things there are always strategy functions inside of companies. There are always espionage teams that can help you with modeling and things like that.

But then you have this whole operational thing that's left around systems and tools and processes, and then that's where partner operations come into play.

Paul Bird:


As we're starting to dig into the report, Kelly, can you outline some of your favorite standout insights? Or just a high-level overview?

Kelly Sarabyn:

I thought some of the things that were interesting to come out were organizations that were smaller than enterprises all had technology partners, meaning ISVs, product partners, and integration-based partnerships, as not only their most common partner type but also what they viewed as their most important.

For enterprises, resellers and technology and solution partners were tied for number two.

I think it exposes a lot of the interesting results in the rest of the survey around partner KPIs at companies of different sizes and who is reporting to who, which is most commonly still a sales leader.

To some degree, that is partly a legacy of the reseller model where you're focused on the point of sale, which, I think enterprise companies have built up whole programs and revenue streams around that, and that will continue to go on.

The ecosystem model has brought in all these different types of partner influence, partner support, and awareness in the market – all these different ways that partners drive value and impact.

I think technology partners are a great example because they're not just sourcing deals, – they're co-building or co-innovating. 

You usually end up sending referrals. It's a tighter relationship.

I think that this report definitely showed that companies are shifting to what we would call an ecosystem business model, as opposed to just focusing on the point of sale and sourcing deals, which was the more traditional channel way to approach partnerships.

That evinced itself. I think enterprises are a little bit different because they built up these large programs; a little bit more meshed and not average.

The mid-market companies have really pushed where they have all these different partner types.

We saw on the KPIs, sourced revenue is still the most popular KPI for partner teams. But partner influence was actually pretty high, too.

And a reasonable number of companies had things like partner satisfaction.

Which goes to the partner experience and how important partners are.

Then customer satisfaction, the number of integrations.

I think it's turned out to be a good benchmark in terms of how far are we as an industry and really moving toward that newer model.

It will be interesting to see next year, to see how these things change. I would predict that the ecosystem model will further advance, and those numbers, will all go up.

Paul Bird:

You had a couple of things in there because you're talking about the different models of that go-to-market strategy with resellers and referral programs.

As you know, ecosystems are a hot topic right now. Can you tell us, how you define partner programs in general, and what key areas do your findings focus around when it comes to these different types of programs?

Kelly Sarabyn:

I think, in general, a partner program is the structure of how you're organizing the relationships and incentives for your internal employees and your external partners.

One of the interesting results for me was, that the companies that have a programmatic allocation of resources, under their program, we're driving more revenue for partners.

What does that mean? It means we often have partner programs but when you double-click on the program, you see that, even though you have this structure for partners, most of the resources are just being allocated in an ad hoc fashion.

Whoever the Squeaky Wheel partner is, whoever the partner manager that can go get the most resources internally– there's no real system to it.

I think everyone starts there and grows.

What happens is, if you can align and incentivize your internal departments, and your external partners in a coordinated way, then at scale, you're just not going to be able to control what you're doing.

To me, that was definitely one of the more interesting results. It said to me, we need to figure out, how can we do this sensibly. How can we develop these programs? And it's a huge challenge.

Partnerships are so dependent on so many other internal departments. So the act of coordinating all of those internal departments and all of these external partners is a large project.

I don't think it's it's easy, and we see how Microsoft just revamped its program. I think even at scale, we're seeing a lot of creativity and re-invention in this space to try to figure out what that looks like.

Paul Bird:

The Microsoft program has grown significantly over the years.

Go ahead, Asher.

Asher Mathew:

Let's fix this conversation. Paul, why did you ask that question?

Paul Bird:

I think that for a lot of people when we look at defining what their partner program is, that means a lot to a lot of different organizations. It's part of their go-to-market strategy.

It's part of their revenue generation strategy. But, it really doesn't have a single meaning for everyone.

What is one partner program for a company that's doing 100 million in ARR, as opposed to somebody just getting started that wants to start working with referral partners, and launch an affiliate program? There's no singular definition.

When I was asking the question, it was more along the lines of how do you define it as it applies to this report.

Asher Mathew:

I just thought that the question was insightful because when you look at the report, the average number of partner types a company has is 3.6, which means 4.

When you go and ask these companies, how did you even figure out to go and work with four different types of partners? Take a wild guess what the answer is going to be.

Paul Bird:

I couldn't imagine. I would imagine it's just evolution.

Asher Mathew:

Most people will say, we don't know.

And it's because when you employ a partner team and I'm talking about mid-market and SMB companies (because the enterprises have been working on this for 30 years), they've just iterated their way to where they are now.

But if you look at mid-market or SMB companies, especially growing companies, they'll just say we don't know, we just announced a partner program, and we took everybody that came in.

When that happens, you actually land in an ad hoc environment.

What happens if you and I were to start a partnership motion? We would go say, hey, what is HubSpot doing? What is Microsoft doing? What does Salesforce doing? What is Adobe doing?

And then we'll take their program and hack it and then announce it. The announcement is actually the program.

You've landed this situation, which is super duper interesting where you now have four different types.

For all the CROs listening to this, it's akin to, having to service SMB customers, mid-market customers, and enterprise customers, all with the same sales program.

But then when we come over here, we're like, wait, we just landed with four different types of partners, and now we have to serve them all. And we are forced into this ad hoc environment, which you see later in the report.

What happens is, you'll see that there are a lot of companies that are 140 people, or 160 people with just one partner ops person.

The reality is all the managers or the partner team managers or the other partner ops people doing this work.

So there’s some double thinking on this topic because it's a very interesting thing to unpack, especially for our listeners, for this session, is to be a little bit more meaningful.

When you design the partner program, or when you think about introducing partnerships that are a company, the program design matters a lot. This actually came up on a different webinar earlier where there were tons of questions about program design.

So I love the fact that you asked the question, but I just wanted to kind of unpack this because the learnings to the record allow us to prepare for what the future's gonna require us to do.

Paul Bird:

Oh, For sure!

And part of these partner programs is all about accelerating and growth and I've always looked at what's the easiest way to accelerate and grow a program, and it's really with the adoption of technology.

So question for you Asher, you know there's a section in that report on partner and channel technology. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for organizations that are either looking to establish a partner tech stack? Or maybe expand the existing one that they are already leveraging?

Asher Mathew:

My background for those listening who may not know, I was a tech sales professional.

And then I've moved out of tech and went into data because you need to know how to operate and learn and manage data. 

The best way to do this is to try to go sell it because if you can convince somebody else to buy data, you probably got to know your stuff.

I went to this uncomfortable state of selling features to selling a product that is going to provide a result six months down the road.

And I shared this because these companies who are trying to deploy technology don't understand which parts of their program are ready for scale. They make these technology and data decisions, and they'll get frustrated.

Because instant gratification behavior is I buy something, I deploy it, and two days later, I have a result. Thank you, Amazon Prime for doing that.

What happens is, if you look at this problem, that we just defined around programs and scaling – if a single partner type is not scaling, i.e., they have not done the first two deals and they don't have the next four deals, then they don't have the next seven deals.

Or the first partner got two customers live and then they got four customers live. And they got 10 customers live.

If a growth pattern isn't visible, then investing in tools and data only complicates the situation.

Because now you have to go teach people other things, than just working on the process and the offer.

You can see people are very excited to invest in this technology, but we are also in the early adopter phase of this technology. And especially right now.

As companies are thinking about, where am I going to invest? In which technologies? The CFOs are going to say, go and consolidate.

The technologies that are producing results and actually helping partner managers' and partner dealers’ workflows become simpler, will prevail.

That's my saying that I’ll buy tech until you have processes solidified and to then solidify processes, you need to make sure your people are organized properly.

If there are people organized properly, you are going to need to invest in ops and every legit CRO does this.

If they don't do this, they're about to make the mistake and learn from experience.

Paul Bird:

Exactly, and there was a lot to that answer, but one key part was you start talking about the process and start getting partners engaging and driving.

There's a portion of the report that talks about partner-driven revenue within the overall partner program.

Can you dig into what partner-driven revenue is and what are some of the key insights that the report gives us on this topic?

Asher Mathew:

The stat was that of the companies that we surveyed, almost 50% of them attributed, 26% or more of their revenue as being partnered-driven.

And then, when you go further down in the report, it says that the partner source was the number one factor, and then partner-influenced was second.

When you go further down the report, you see that customer retention, was also mentioned.

Asher Mathew:

So now what's happening, if you look at it from the larger revenues playbook or process, is people or boards are forcing their executive teams to think about the entire customer journey.

It's no longer just presales, it's no longer just post-sales. It's pre and post-sales and how do we go from suspect to advocate?

So you're gonna see all these flavors of revenue coming through because we’ve been trained by our friends in channels, for a long time, we're going to focus on source revenue.

There is a concept of partner-assisted, which is a little bit more than just influenced. Influenced just means, hey, I sent an e-mail out, and I'm done.

Assisted actually means that, hey, I'm blocked and you helped me get to the finish line.

Assisted also means there's a different version of assisted, which I think will become much more clear in the next two years. It is, if your product integrates with seven other products that a customer has to use, what’s the conversation source?

Because only one of those seven integrated partners actually sourced the bill. The rest are all going to assist. The customer on the other side is thinking, Wow, who is going to service all seven integrations for me?

This is a legit question that was asked of me when I was keynoting a different conference and somebody raised their hand and said, hey, can you help me understand these seven integrations? Whose job is it to make sure all that stuff works together?

And of course, on the inside, it's a partner ops person, but on the outside, there's gonna be a services partner.

So I’m unpacking this in a couple of different ways.

The CROs, the CMOs, and the CCOs – everybody has to think about what partner-assist means and make sure that that is called out because, in the next 18 months, customer retention and customer expansion are going to be the key things that revenue teams focus on.

If it's all about sourcing, they may actually miss out on customer retention, because there was no metric that drove processes that allowed them to double-click on that part of the order.

Paul Bird:

And then retention or revenue in a lot of cases is so much more important than the generation of new revenue.

What I find really interesting about this topic is that I've been in the channel on both sides for 24 or 25 years now.

The old adage I've always heard, but nobody has ever measured is that 80% of my business comes from 20% of my partners.

And if I look at the stats here, you've got that 50% of companies are attributing 26% of their revenue.

Does that mean that only of that 20%, 26% of revenue was coming from just a small handful of partners?

It gives insight into a number that has always been thrown out there, but no one's ever tracked.

Kelly Sarabyn:

I’ve heard that as well. And I think when it comes to the survey around this question, I think as Asher alluded to, people are answering it in different ways.

We're not at a place of consistency where with one organization, it's partner-driven only if it's sourced. That's one extreme.

And then on the other side, when you do start tracking what counts as an assist, people come up with multi-attribution models, where they try to assign a particular weight to it, in terms of how much was that particular action worth.

There isn't a standardization at this point.

I think we have different companies that would have the same set of partners doing the same things. And someone comes out and says they drove 45% of the revenue. And the other person says, they drove 30%.

They weren't far away from a point where this is really consistent across the field.

That is ultimately a partner ops, as partner ops continues to mature, and we are seeing mature partner ops in more and more organizations.

I think they'll reach a consensus on what this looks like and what types of actions count as assist.

Paul Bird:

For sure. And I think this is a great time to start looking at it, because there's a lot in the report that talks about partner team KPIs.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the importance of somebody measuring and benchmarking these KPIs as it relates to the overall partner operations?

Kelly Sarabyn:

I think it's huge because ultimately, it ties into the program and the processes.

You have to coordinate people's behavior in line with how you're orchestrating the whole program and if the KPIs are misaligned, we see this in sales sometimes, where salespeople are disincentivized to work with partners.

Or, they're just incentivized to log that it was a partner-influence, and that's a terrible way to set things up because then, it's like you're putting these companies at odds.

The other thing I see is, how much are partners driving revenue? It's not the best way to frame the question because it's setting up: Is there opposition to marketing and sales?

Marketing is driving 15% when really, you could have this coordinated, and the whole pie is getting bigger.

Ultimately, for this all to work, the KPIs have to be part of the operations conversation, because they have to align with the processes, the programs, and any incentives that you're putting onto your partners.

Paul Bird:

For sure.

And what are your thoughts Asher, on the importance of starting to benchmark KPIs in general? One of the things you mentioned, is that there's no widely accepted reporting structure or metrics that people have established.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Asher Mathew:

Yeah, I have the benefit of having been both a partner executive and a CRO.

That's why I'm giving the answers on the other side of what Kelly shared so we have the full content.

I would say, of the four companies that I've been fortunate to be a part of, each one's partner go-to-market was equally as difficult as their direct go-to-market.

When you take the direct lessons and try to apply them to the partner go-to-market they don't work.

What that means is when you do go into the market to work with partners, wherever you start, benchmark from there.

Don't take somebody else's thing and apply it because the variables are depending on the stage you're at, depending on the product type you’re used to, depending on the market you're going into.

There are just too many variables to say, I'll take somebody else's benchmarks, apply them to myself and nothing's happening.

There are some benchmarks that are just universally true.

If a direct sales rep is providing a million dollars in ARR, an indirect sales rep should also be able to provide a million dollars in ARR. How they get there is what you have to work on.

Asher Mathew:

My counsel to everybody is, once you start the process, take a look at like some of your direct measurements and KPIs.

Then use them to start benchmarking how you worked with partner teams. In the first year, I wouldn't even recommend having variable plans for your partner teams but having NVOs, and making one of them revenue so that the process and the people, and the program are all moving forward. You just calibrate.

Once you calibrate, in Year Two, you should absolutely go for it, and focus on revenue.

Especially right now, I would say, this is interesting. By the time this podcast, is going to drop, we're going to be in a very revenue-focused world. Focusing your teams on just revenue, and trying to figure out how they work with other prospects or customers.

It's going to be super important, and so starting there would be what I would recommend.

Paul Bird:

That's interesting because you talk about the partner-sourced and assisted, and putting these plans together.

Are there things vendors can do better to help facilitate collaboration between sourced and assisted within the ecosystem?

Asher Mathew:

Because I also have the pleasure of working at Demandbase, I understand the other parts of the tech stack.

The other parts of the tech stack are really good at understanding engagement. For example, marketing ops can very easily tell you which partner campaigns the prospects were highly engaged with.

Gainsight customer service can tell you which tickets were routed through partners. All of this can be done

We're all gonna get pressured to like focus on revenue, but when you look, you started utilizing the other tools in conjunction with the partner tech that's available now.

You can see the assistance of partner teams across the customer journey. This part of the work hasn't been done yet, because the part of tech that's available on the marketplace is so new.

What's happening right now is partner leaders are being asked and are being forced to, like talk about their own relevancy. And then organizationally, they're being forced to go figure these things out when in actuality, a partner ops person, whose whole experience and education are around working with tools and systems and processes, they should be doing this.

I'll give you an example.

You would never ask an analyst to go do the same work that a data scientist should be doing.

I'll give you a different example that hits an even hole. You would never ask a nurse to do the same job as a doctor.

So, why would we not leverage the ops person’s specialty to go do the analysis? To go do, to review things, to be very detail-oriented and get the people that are supposed to work with other people, and build a model of relationships, and just be specialized.

That is to me, what I think will actually happen next year and thereafter, because in the world of, do more with less, CROs and even CMOs and the C-suite are gonna be forced to go figure out creative solutions.

When this whole thing about welcoming partner tech inside of our company happens, there are budget holders for other products that are going to say, Whoa, wait a second, does this mean I'm going to give a budget? Or does it mean, I'm going to create more budget?

This conversation will happen.

Paul Bird:

For Sure. It's all about prioritization, and that's a theme throughout your report.

But you mentioned the role of the CMO and CRO in a section, I think Jeff Reekers from Aircall, where he mentioned organizations where the executives don't value or believe in ecosystems, and that it's really the partnership leaders team to make it part of the company's priorities.

This is a re-occurring theme that we're seeing.

Do you think that it's something that really needs to be shifted in an organization?

If they're going to say, look, we really need partner ops, at the ground level, but we also needed to be part of the executive leadership principle and mindset in order for these programs to grow and succeed.

Asher Mathew:

We're gonna need another hour to talk about this.

This is the whole reason why Partnership Leaders exists. Because up until three years ago, there was no place that partnership leaders (the people) could call home.

It was a frustration of what me, Chris, and Tai, actually literally went through.

I don't want to make this about Partnership Leaders, because we could do a whole podcast on that.

But it's important because what you just hit on is when all three of us met in 2018, and we're like, where do these people go? What do they do? Where do they hang out?

In most cases, it was a bar, because that's what you'd normally associate partnership people to do. And we're like, Where do all the real deal, partnered people go?

And they're like, on vacations with other real-deal partner people. There is no place. if you asked, like Avendish and me, and Hero, and Bob Rosin, or Laura Becerra, or even Tyler Prince at Salesforce before he was at Oracle – you would just be like, they all hang out with each other. There's no place to go or bring these people.

One of the big missions for Partnership Leaders is to elevate partner teams around the world. And the way we can do this is we can first focus on VPs and above to help them understand how they can make the case for the relevancy of partner teams inside their companies.

And then by virtue of that, they can help everybody else on their teams, i.e. people that report to them to start thinking the same way.

This is the reason why Partnership Leader after the first year and a half, pivoted into focusing on leaders.

We realized that the future leaders, which is individual contributors, are just too junior to be able to have this conversation because the leaders were struggling.

Most of the times that we are in our committees, when we're chatting with other VPs and we're talking about, what is the slide that you need to put together to help you make the case? When you're going to be asked to explain what your team is doing in front of 30 other executives.

That's what's happening.

Kelly Sarabyn:

Even more than that, I think in the vast majority of organizations, it's not just presenting results.

It's proactively advocating over and over to all the other executives about the importance of this.

And I don't see that not being a core part of the partner leader's job anytime soon. You saw that in the report, all of these contributors, who are companies that have great ecosystems, they're saying, this is a key part of my job. How do I align the rest of the organization around this?

Kelly Sarabyn:

And I think Jeff's point about until all the other departments are seeing this as a strategic priority through the lens of partnerships, you're going to hit a wall. And I think that's right.

You have to constantly make the argument. There is going to be a wall there that you're not going to unlock some level of value.

I think this dovetails with what Asher was saying about the three different abilities of a leader.

One of those is to inspire, persuade and be charismatic enough that people want to go along for your cause.

Ultimately, until you have mature partner ops, there's going to be an attribution problem, and unlocking a value problem, so you're not going to be able to show it all the way through.

I think there's a lot of good advice in the report for what do you do when everyone else isn't on board. And, how do you show initial results?

Use that to staircase your way up, until you have a mature partner ops team.

I think that's really what you have to do as a partner or a leader with an organization.

Paul Bird:

Kelly, I find this report extremely insightful. I love the visualization.

If there was one thing that you could hope a partnership leader would take away from this report only one thing, what do you think that would be?

Kelly Sarabyn:

That looking at the different ways the partners bring value is worthwhile for your organization.

Paul Bird:

Thank you.

And how about you, Asher? What key takeaway that you think most embodies the direction of partner programs and the role of partner ops in the near future? Is there one key takeaway from the report that you think really highlights everything?

Asher Mathew:

I think for me, it would be a move away from ad hoc allocation to programmatic allocation because that allows for scale.

Paul Bird:


Paul Bird:

This has actually been a really insightful conversation, really enjoyed having both of you on the show, so thank you, Kelly. Thank you, Asher. I really appreciate you being a guest on the show today. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you both.

Asher Mathew:

Thanks so much for having us!

Guest Intros
How did you come up with the idea of putting this report together? How was the idea born?
So, what did you hope to accomplish with the report?
So how did you pick and choose the key players that you would be involving and adding to the report?
What is the definition of the term Partner Ops?
Kelly's favorite standout insights
How do you define partner programs & key areas the findings focus around
Importance of the definition of partner program: a singular meaning
Recommendations for organizations that are either looking to establish or expand a partner tech stack
What is partner-driven revenue? and key insights from the report on this topic
Importance of measuring and benchmarking these KPIs as it relates to overall partner operations
Are there things vendors can do better to help facilitate collaboration between sourced and assisted within the ecosystem?
Recurring theme in the report: is it the partnership leader’s job to make it part of the company storyline?
Kelly Sarabyn's one takeaway for a partnership leader
Asher Mathew's one takeaway for a partnership leader