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

31 - 3 Partnerships Podcast Hosts Discuss 2023 Trends & 2024 Predictions - Rob Spee, Vince Menzione

December 28, 2023 Magentrix Season 1 Episode 31
Partner Relationship Management (PRM): The Ultimate Channel Sales & Partnerships Podcast
31 - 3 Partnerships Podcast Hosts Discuss 2023 Trends & 2024 Predictions - Rob Spee, Vince Menzione
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

We dissect the past year's partnership trends and forecast what's on the horizon for 2024. Join our guests, Rob Spee & Vince Menzione as we dive into topics such as:

  • co-selling
  • partner programs
  • partner relationship management
  • marketplaces
  • resellers
  • the impact of AI on channel sales
  • 2024 predictions (and reviewing our 2023 predictions 😁)

(01:08) Guest Intros
(01:30) Co-selling has continued to be a bigger focus area – any notable observations around this?
(02:47) Canalys’ “Co-sell Tech Matrix” report
(03:59) Co-sell impact on hyperscalers?
(04:59) Traditional resellers in favor of selling in marketplaces - trend in 2023?
(07:26) Vendors using marketplaces to co innovate and co sell
(10:21) How have partner programs changed in 2023?
(12:53) Any new KPIs that you've noticed that vendors are focusing on?
(15:59) Trends with partnership technology and the partner tech stack
(18:09) Gen AI: Standout technologies helping partnership leaders?
(20:02) PRMs are not dead
(21:09) Partner-driven revenue: observations & updates
(24:58) Do you think there's still an issue with partner attribution?
(26:22) A review of the predictions we made last year: Vince's predictions
(28:24) A review of the predictions we made last year: Rob's predictions
(29:49) Predictions for 2024: Vince's predictions
(31:20) Predictions for 2024: Rob's predictions
(33:26) Predictions for 2024: Magentrix's predictions
(35:40) Paul on Gen AI as a channel opportunity
(36:38) Rob on AI, partner experience and PRM
(40:24) Rob's final thoughts for partnership professionals as they head into 2024
(41:14) Vince on the one consideration partnership professionals should be mindful of as they head into 2024

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: 
Well, it's that time of year again. We've brought back Rob Spee and Vince Menzion, the other two partnership podcast hosts, for our annual partnership trends and predictions episode. We'll be reviewing key insights and trends we've all noticed over the past year surrounding topics such as partner programs, changes in vendor approaches, partner technology trends, and our predictions for 2024. As usual, feel free to follow along with the transcript or easily replay a section with our chapter markers as a refresher. Rob Speed, host of Channel Journeys podcast, as well as the senior vice president of global channel and alliances at Beyond Trust, and Vince Benzion, the host of the Ultimate Guide to partnering, as well as the founder of Ultimate Partnerships. Welcome to the show, Rob. Welcome back, Vince. It's great to have you guys here.

Rob Spee: Great to see you guys.

Vince Menzione: Great to see you. This is so much fun.

Paul Bird: I, always love getting together.

Vince Menzione: Yeah, this is it. I love it.

Paul Bird: So let's look at. Maybe we'll start with the topic of changing behaviors in the market this year. Co selling has been a, bigger focus area. Do you guys agree with that? Are you noticing anything around co selling in this space?

Rob Spee: Definitely. I know you are, too, Vince. And Vince, you have a different angle on co selling, a very specific angle on co selling that you've been talking a lot about and doing shows on. I'm seeing a huge push on co selling from a lot of different perspectives, but a much broader co sell that traditionally for us was more of a co selling with the reseller. And we're getting into co selling with different types of partners, our systems integrators, our service delivery partners, and really leveraging the ecosystem, including Vince. The hyperscalers that you've been working with.

Vince Menzione: Cosell, I recall four or five years ago companies saying, well, why would I want to co sell with the hyperscalers? Like, they don't really sell my product, but now they're tapping into this opportunity, right? We start looking at the three hyperscalers. They're all going after these large cloud contracts, right? So these large, durable cloud budgets, there's $300 billion of them now. So kind, of a greenfield, if you will, for all the isvs, all of the sis of the world to go work with those organizations more effectively.

Paul Bird: Did either of you have a chance to read the Canelis Cosell tech matrix report that, came out? I guess it was maybe last week. Week. And a half ago.

Rob Spee: I did not. No, I'm going to check that out. Paul.

Vince Menzione: I saw it, but I did not read it. Paul.

Paul Bird: There was kind of a lot of focus more on the traditional, account mapping, the crossbeams, the partner taps, the reveals, as well as a little bit on the tech side. But I'm wondering when you look at kind of Cosell, how critical is, that kind of joint account mapping account planning to having an effective Cosell action?

Rob Spee: I think it's critical. This is something that we're pushing really heavily next year at beyond trust with our sellers. We're setting a goal, maybe lofty, of having 100% partner ecosystem participation in our deals, meaning that our reps are really getting to understand who the partners are in the account. They can triangulate through their relationships and information that they have in the account and really leverage the full power of the ecosystem. And much of that ecosystem is going to already be in the account. There are other partners that they can introduce into the account for added value. So, yeah, that's something that we're really pushing heavily on.

Paul Bird: And Vince, are you seeing a big impact in the kind of hyperscalers when it comes to.

Vince Menzione: And, you know, you brought out a good point, right. They were underrepresented in the magic quadrant. Tackle was in there, I believe, as the one. And tackle has a Cosell operating model that includes software. Some other organizations that do consulting work in this area use spreadsheets still. And really what they're doing is mechanically taking Salesforce data and moving it up to the operating model. Partner center for Microsoft, Ace for AWS, and Google still using spreadsheets, but they're manually moving the data back and forth. M do that again. Tackle has a more effective model here than some, but the platforms of, the hyperscalers support a lot of that also. They were left out of that report probably on purpose. I haven't had a chance to talk to Canalis about that, but it is an important factor. It certainly is an important factor.

Paul Bird: And this is more for you, Vince. But I had a conversation with Jay McBain last year or earlier this year, and he made a prediction that he would notice that there was going to be a shift. Vendors who are kind of foregoing the traditional resellers in favor of selling in marketplaces. Is this something that you're seeing in 2023 as well?

Vince Menzione: It's not an either or. I look at it from a couple of different perspectives. I think that the marketplace strategy working directly with hyperscalers is a channel to market. If you are selling into large enterprise accounts. You might forego a reseller or another channel strategy depending on your overarching strategy for that account M which may include security and may include other software and so on. But the resellers, the channel is the most effective way for an ISV to get to the customer in the mid market for sure. Maybe lower enterprise, mid market. And do think, I think it's an end, not an or. And what you're starting to see with Microsoft and AWS, AWS was out of the gate earlier with this is what Microsoft refers to as multiparty offers, which is where Microsoft, an ISV and a channel partner are all coming together to put together, stitch together the offering to the customer. They're using the marketplace as delivery mechanism and tapping into the cloud budgets. Customer already has made the commitment of 10 million, 100 million, whatever that number is. But everybody benefits along the journey. It's a different monetization model for some. Some like it, some don't. But it allows the channel to participate in the way that they best support the customer.

Rob Spee: We're seeing the same thing Paul. It's not an either or. We're seeing both when we're executing. I think every deal, or just about every deal we've done in a marketplace had another partner involved for resale, for delivery, whatever it would be, or a combination of the two. But I think the automation that you were just talking about, that's what's so super important, is really going to be a big player next year, is that automation from several perspectives. There's the account mapping automation, the crossbeams partner taps getting that data into your salesforce so the sellers can just very quickly see who's the ecosystem in the account. But then that automation for co selling like Vince was describing with tackle IO, and there are a number of different solutions for doing that. That's also super critical so that you're not doing it on spreadsheets.

Vince Menzione: That's right.

Paul Bird: What about when vendors are using marketplaces to co innovate and co sell? Rob, has that become a bigger trend over the past year? And maybe for you Vince, what impacts has kind of co innovation applied when it comes to marketplaces?

Rob Spee: I'm curious Vince, what innovation have you seen from a marketplace perspective?

Vince Menzione: I think it's early days. I'm starting to see some, what I would, when you say co innovation, I'm thinking about delivery of multiple services. So maybe that's a form of co innovation. For instance, I have a line of business application, I have a security application and maybe I have the delivery of those two and wrapping around both the transaction and maybe some support services around that. And that's where I'm seeing the model today. I don't know if that's what you mean by co innovation. I'm not seeing co creation, if that's what you mean. I'm not seeing the co creation yet happen where two isvs are melding their technologies together and creating a third thing. Is that what you're referring to, Paul?

Paul Bird: Well, I'm really looking for the idea of being able to have a vendor working with, again, multiple partners, but then to innovate with creative solutions and kind of bring that technology together, which I guess is, to a degree, co creation. I had a chat with Tim Lowe from Red Hat, and he's been able to leverage his partner channel to essentially optimize the spend within the marketplace. And this is multiple partners working together to produce kind of a joint solution. And it was kind of the best example that I had seen of, co innovation, kind of leveraging each other's technology stacks to provide a better solution to the end user that's going to help optimize their spend.

Vince Menzione: Got it.

Rob Spee: I think co innovation is a goal of the ecosystem, but it's something that's a little bit later in the maturity curve and we're starting to get into it, and that's co innovation, largely with our tech integration partners, including the hyperscalers, where we can integrate information security data from the hyperscalers from their platforms. But we're really looking at a variety of different managed service providers, system integrators, other types of partners. Some of these have their own platforms that they've been building, cybersecurity platforms. And so we're looking at how do we integrate into that and drive co innovation with them. So it's coming, and I think it's something that we should all be looking at next year.

Vince Menzione: Yeah, and it's hard.

Rob Spee: Right?

Vince Menzione: I mean, I think that co innovation, two organizations that have separate biases on what they're creating, they have separate domain. It's hard going across a single organization. Right. Stovepiped M then bringing two organizations together at the development side is even more challenging at times. The true partnership transaction side.

Paul Bird: So, Rob, question for you, how partner programs changed in 2023. Are there any kind of standout insights that you've seen?

Rob Spee: Well, I think there are a couple of trends that are taking place. Right. People are starting to move their programs away from the old transactional metallic tiers into a much more broader points type system that takes into account the different types of value that partners can provide. That is definitely one trend. I also see a trend of something that we did at Beyondtrust last year, which was to consolidate and simplify into one global program that encapsulated all the different partner models in the ecosystem. So going from five different contracts down to just one partner agreement to cover all those. So I think simplification has been a big theme, but adjusting to recognize in the ecosystem, there are all these different business models, and you've got to really flex that way. Also, I think a trend that's coming is, and we're talking about this internally, at beyond trust. If you look at partner discounts as the main motivator and incentive model, that doesn't really fit the ecosystem either. And it's much more around enablement to drive customer success, because as partners move their business models to services and a SaaS model, customer success is paramount for them too. So they want to be enabled on how not only just how to sell your product effectively, but how to sell it as a value proposition, many times integrated with other solutions that they sell. And then how do they ultimately drive that customer success?

Paul Bird: Vince, have you noticed any changes or trends on how vendors approach their programs?

Vince Menzione: I don't watch it as closely as Rob does. I mean, Rob is sort of the domain expert on channel programs, and I like to hear the fact that more are following this points methodology. Microsoft was kind of first the market a couple of years ago out, of the world of silver and gold. I do see that the marketplace is driving, when I look at the hyperscalers that's driving some changes to their programs and how they think of incenting. We just saw AWS just announce changes and they're lowering their fees on their marketplace, lowering the cost of doing business there. And of course the others are following suit. So I do see that as an incentive to organizations to build on those platforms. And then also what we're also starting to see from some of the hyperscalers, the three, is more money being plowed back into the channel to enable partners to go deliver on behalf of, rather than reducing fees so much. But it's more about how do I create an environment where everybody wins?

Paul Bird: Are there any new KPIs that you've noticed that vendors are focusing on? Vince, it's probably different with the hyperscalers than rob you as a channel chief with your ecosystem. Any new KPIs you've been seeing?

Rob Spee: Definitely from our perspective, we this year started tracking things like partner success. We instituted a way that we could have our partners submit an NPS survey to the customer who would then score their services work. So we just launched that this year. I think one, hundred and 50 surveys have gone out already and we're seeing really good results, really strong, high NPs scores for our partner delivery, which is exactly what we want to see. If we see a low score, it allows us to dig in and see, okay, maybe there's some more enablement that's needed here. 

So that's been a big one, looking at the percentage of partner delivery, the success of that delivery. The other thing that we're tracking is ecosystem involvement. So looking at that ecosystem, what types of partners and how many partners are engaged in the opportunities. What we want to do next now is start doing some comparisons. So, okay, what is the growth of the business? And look at different KPIs with the ecosystem versus without, how can you really show the comparison? I am seeing a big push from the sea level to have better metrics on the ecosystem. The old transactional metrics are great, but they don't tell the full story. And when you're trying to say, well, this is a different type of partner, they're not going to bring us deals, they're not going to do transactions, they're all about customer success. How do you prove the value of that? So what I want to be able to start measuring is as a true SaaS company, the customer acquisition cost, is that going down with the ecosystem and customer lifetime value, is that going up with the ecosystem. So both should be true. I've got to be able to track it to prove it. That's the challenge for sure.

Paul Bird: And what about you Vince, are you seeing anything as far as kind of KPIs in marketplaces and hyperscalers?

Rob Spee: Yeah.

Vince Menzione: So the big move this year when Microsoft made its announcements on marketplace was that in order to be considered a partner that they were going to go co sell with, you had to have a transactable offer in the marketplace. In essence, they flipped the switch. Right. So it's a new KPI, transactable offers. So I think that's trying to drive the right behavior there specifically. And I think that's the big one there. 

The other area where I see from whether it's KPI or investment strategy is in the mid market recognition that mid market is the area where we see the potential for the most growth for partners versus. And you're starting to see this too, right? it looks like all the GSI is overinvested this year. They're all clustered around the big enterprises, right? 11,000 north american accounts, some neighborhood like that. This mid market opportunity is a rich opportunity. I've been calling it the acre of diamonds, in fact, because it's underpenetrated. And just with Microsoft alone, I know that only 40% of, 40,000 accounts have partners attached to them. So that's huge opportunity for growth.

Paul Bird: Absolutely. Well, what about partnership technology this year? Any general trends that you guys have noticed when it comes to the partner tech stack? Are people doing anything new with their tech stacks? Vince, why don't we start it off with you? Because you get to deal with the tech in a whole different way that.

Vince Menzione: Rob does well, going back to marketplaces again. Right. So one thing I've noticed tackle was early to the game. I think they came out in 2016. They were first to market. They were pretty much the lone player in that space for a period of time. So they had a market unto themselves. And I've seen at least six marketplace enablement software vendors come to market just this year alone. 

So it's starting to get a little bit more crowded. And then organizations like Workspan, which grew out of alliance management co selling, have now put marketplace enablement into their portfolio. We're starting to see more of them are integrating that and trying to create that whole solution. They also need to see some consolidation there at some point. Right.

Paul Bird: Rob, how about you? What does, your tech stack look like this year?

Rob Spee: I'm seeing two things that are helping us and probably helping other vendors is one is integrations, and it's just like a beyond trust when we sell our technology. Customers really love it when we have out of the box integrations with other technologies that are part of their broader solution to solve a cybersecurity issue. The same thing is from managing an ecosystem. It's very hard. You can't find one platform that does it all. So you've got all these point products breast to breed, but I'm starting to see more partnering within the techsac community and more integrations that is super helpful. I hope some of that will lead to consolidation. Let's see some acquisitions here and bring that into the fold. So integrations is super powerful and helpful. 

The other thing is AI and ah, the generative AI and seeing vendors. I'm really pleased to see the vendors starting to incorporate that into the solution, because none of us have time or trust going out to chat GBT to do this. But when it's starting to be coming into the platforms that we use, that's the most valuable for us. And plus then you, as vendors have already done the, as tech providers have done the security work, hopefully, right, to make sure that it's a secure solution.

Paul Bird: For us to use for sure. And kind of on the topic of Gen AI, would you say that, was there a standout of technology for partnership leaders that were helping their programs? Do you think Geni was that quote unquote killer app this year?

Rob Spee: I don't know if I'd call it the killer app yet, Paul. I think there was a lot of fear and a lot of hope for what Geni could do, and I think it's calming down a little bit. It is in my own mind. I'm starting to trust it more, but also recognize what it can and can't do for me. So I think it could be the killer app of 24 for us. From my perspective, it hasn't gotten there yet.

Paul Bird: How about you, Vince? Is there any kind of technology that's been really beneficial that has emerged this year and is generative AI? Is that emergence this year really going to drive hyperscalers and marketplaces?

Vince Menzione: Well, certainly, if you were to talk to Satya, Nadella and Microsoft, Gen AI is where it's at. I mean, that's where Microsoft is investing heavily and they've been building copilot into all of their products.

Rob Spee: Right.

Vince Menzione: So you're starting to see this permeate. The street likes it, the market likes it. Microsoft stock hit an all time high this year just about a couple of weeks ago. I think it hit like 380 at one point. It's in the 370s range right now. So the market likes it. And really interesting conversation. We can pivot onto the Sam Altman conversation, probably that'd be a very interesting dialogue on leadership principles. But, certainly Microsoft made some big announcements at the ignite conference, general availability of their copilot products, and we'll start to see more of this permeate within the collaboration suites for sure. And also from developer. I know on the developer side, you've done some things on the AI side, Paul, with your organization, but I think you'll see more of it just blended into what Microsoft offers to the developer community as well.

Paul Bird: Absolutely. I know that at Magentrix we've noticed a trend in the chatter on LinkedIn, which is about really the future of prms, the kind of partner relationship management portals. For the record, prms are not dead, as we've said elsewhere.

Vince Menzione: glad to hear that PRM is.

Rob Spee: Distribution not dead yet.

Paul Bird: Exactly. There's kind of a recurring claim. And while true: prms are not going to die anytime soon, they're really the foundation of a partner tech stack from my perspective, just like a CRM is the basics for customer data management. I think the problem that I saw this year was that there's a lot of people that have misguided expectations for what a PRM can do, so they end up blaming their PRM, saying it doesn't work. And I think these are really kind of misguided expectations. It comes from not really having the education on what a PRM can do. But unlike you, Rob, I think there's a lot of people that don't understand the importance of actually engaging with their partner ecosystem and what that means when it comes to their relationship management platform. One of my favorite topics that I, wanted to talk about for 2023, partner driven revenue. And this one always makes me smile when I have these conversations. Any observations on changes or updates on, kind of partner driven revenue in 2023? Rob, we'll start off with you.

Rob Spee: Yeah, I actually fought to take that out of our comp plan this year. Really for 24 I fought unsuccessfully, and maybe I was a bit too early to the game to do this, but I think when you look at the ecosystem, the broad value of the ecosystem is so vast that just being focused on partner origination is really doing everyone a disservice. But at the same time, our companies are making massive investments in the ecosystem, and this is one of the easiest ways to measure value of the channel. Right. Of that transactional channel. What I do think though too, is interesting, and there was a really interesting report on this. You see the percentage of deal registrations that are coming into your business, right? Some percentage of your business is partner originated. What you don't see though, is the true partner origination taking place out in the market. All of that influence that is taking place, that for us is probably triple what we're seeing in deal registrations. Wow, that is super hard to measure. 

So I've got to convince everyone, hey, don't use this as the sole measurement to justify investment, because all the investment that we're doing in partner success for service delivery, technical certifications, that drives successful projects, which then enables, and empowers that partner to go to the next customer and talk about all the success they had. And now I've got a use case that they can talk about. And they may never bring us a deal registration, but they are massively influencing that customer. So I think that's the risk of focusing on partner originated. So we include it in our comp plan next year. We're setting reasonable targets because I'm saying look, we're not going to double partner origination that we're going to measure for deal registration, but we should see growth in the business through all the work and enablement we're doing that drives that influence.

Paul Bird: And Vince, from your perspective, what's the impact on partner driven revenue from a hyperscaler perspective, do you think it's more along the lines of a drawdown effort or do you think there are greater ways of attributing partners to the actual dollars moving to the hyperscalers?

Vince Menzione: So Microsoft wouldn't break that out as a KPI, right? They would look at it as we want partners to generate their own opportunities.

Vince Menzione: We're not going to pay our sellers unless the seller is co selling with the partner. So there is an inclination to register the deals and get a co sell engagement model going and getting that lit up so that Microsoft at least knows about it. It's also used as a flywheel to at I just sold five or $10 million in new revenue for you and get on the radar, right. And then on the burn down side, Paul, to your point, Microsoft wants all of these partners that are riding on Microsoft's rails to have an agreement with them. So yes, they're also customers of Microsoft. So if you have a Mac agreement and you're burning down $10 million a year, that benefits a salesperson as well. So there's double attribution there, even though it's not called out. Microsoft probably wants nothing more than letting these partners go off and burn down. But partners want more from Microsoft or Amazon or Google and they want to use that to say look what we've done for you and we need your help here, right. In recognizing the fact that they have those relationships at the highest levels of the C suite because these agreements are being negotiated at that level.

Paul Bird: Do you think there's still an issue with partner attribution? Do you think that's still a problem for people? Do you think people have dealt with it any differently this year in 23?

Vince Menzione: I think that's a rob one.

Rob Spee: I think it'll always be a challenge ball and there'll always be arguments over what did that partner do. One thing we learned though is we tied compensation too much to attribution this year and that creates some fud, some mistrust because sometimes people think that someone is attributing a partner to a deal just so they get paid on it. And I'm not talking about partner origination. We were looking at everything, influence, service delivery, whatever technology integrations and their impact on the deal. So we're taking that out of the comp plan. 

So there's not that element of mistrust, but we still want to track it very effectively. So we're trying to put it into part of our sales motion. So the sales cycle, educating the sellers. Okay, here are the different moments in the sale when you could be introducing partners of different types and engaging partners of different types. And we'd like you to record that in our system so that we can track the attribution, track the influence and do a better job of knowing which partners are really helping us. Who do we need to provide more enablement to? Who should we embrace more in our go to market and marketing campaigns? All of that. So attribution is super important. I do think it's getting better. I think we're all getting better at attributing partners of different types in the deal. We'll never perfect it.

Paul Bird: So why don't we have a review of the predictions we made last year and see where we landed with those. So Vince, your predictions were the development of, community and learning from each other. We're going to see more of that, bringing it all together, a more robust set of tools and approaches to effectively drive a partner led business. And last but not least, you had said that there are some analytic tools, such as the Microsoft's power platform, offering numerous low code and no code options to access data. So how did you do with your predictions in, 2023?

Rob Spee: Do you even remember making those?

Paul Bird: We had to go and listen to the transcript in order to pull those.

Vince Menzione: Great job, driving that. Well, on the community side, I think we're getting more effective there for sure. Pat on the back to myself on helping to drive the Microsoft ecosystem in a bigger way this year and pull together people that hadn't been pulled together in person. And we're going to continue to do that. It's probably going to be my prediction for 2024 as well. I don't remember. On the power platform side, I think it got overshadowed by AI in a big way and it's certainly the underlying technology, but now it's just made it so much easier to enable power platform apps and the like through copilot and so on. And what was the third one, Paul?

Paul Bird: That was that there would be some analytics tools such as the power platform offering low and no code offerings. And you said going forward in 2023, your prediction was an increased trend of utilizing these tools for building those data analysis solutions.

Vince Menzione: Yeah, I think that what we did see on, the co selling side is analytics being applied to the co selling methodology in a bigger way by all the vendors. So that's, that's what I'll say it applied to for sure. I think we hit a couple of them. I think we at least two out of three.

Paul Bird: Two out of three ain't bad. Rob, you only had two predictions. One, definitely an increase in marketplace business, an increase in the ecosystem, and the trifecta approach. You also said the future of distribution would be much more of a services hub than a sales hub.

Rob Spee: Yeah, well, from a beyond trust perspective, that definitely came true on both fronts. Now, we had just launched marketplace, but we're seeing a continued growth in our marketplace sales, absolute continued growth in the ecosystem. And what we're doing almost 100% of any partner marketing activity we do as a trifecta. That means at least three partners, many times more than that. That is definitely true. On the second front. What was the second one?

Paul Bird: Was the future of distribution being more of a services hub than a sales hub?

Rob Spee: Yeah, this is something that we're working really hard on with our distributors and they haven't all gotten there, but we have distributors now that are that service hub. So they are providing services on behalf of partners. So if a partner doesn't have the bench, they'll go in and deliver on behalf of the partner. Or if the partner needs bench extension, they do that. We've also enabled our distributors this year to do what we call lab assessments for technical certifications. So this is kind of manually intensive. We don't have enough people to serve all of our partners. So we've been empowering our top service delivery partners and our distributors to actually go out and do those certifications themselves. That one is definitely coming true and we're going to keep pushing on that front and expanding on it next year.

Paul Bird: All right, how about some predictions for major predictions anyway for 2024? Let's start with you, Vince.

Vince Menzione: Well, we're going to go back to marketplaces again, right? So I'm going to steal a prediction from tackle. And Canalis said last year, 45 billion by the end of 2025. Jay McBain said at, one of my events that they undercalled it that it was closer to 50. And tackle IO came out in their latest study and said $100 billion in transactions by the end of 2026. And I think we're on track. Crowdstrike has already gotten to a billion dollars this past year. So we're starting to see that. So I'm still very bullish on marketplaces and the expansion of marketplaces. I'm going to be continually speaking about this topic. 

I had Anthony Joseph from Microsoft at my event talking about Microsoft's investments here, pulling together. I mentioned with you a panel discussion at a future event where we're going to have all three hyperscalers hopefully on stage together discussing this. And they're all investing heavily here. And it makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. It makes a lot of sense from a co selling perspective for other organizations to come on board. And I think we're still in the early days on that one. So that's prediction number one. I'd say prediction number two again is mid market watch the mid market. I think it's a golden opportunity. If I was in Rob shoes, I'd be investing. It probably already is investing there. I'd be doubling down my mid market business this coming year.

Paul Bird: All right, how about you, Rob, any predictions for, 2024?

Rob Spee: Yeah, absolutely, Paul. I've got a couple. So one I was talking about partner success and customer success. So this is a big one that I hope comes true. I'm going to push it to come true at beyond trust. But customer success is very well known. You've got customer success teams. Customer success platforms really started gaining steam over the last decade or so. I believe in 24 partner success is going to start joining the ranks of customer success. And I want to see a lot more partner success teams. I want to see partner success teams integrated into the customer success teams. I want customer success metrics to be integrating partner success metrics. I'd love to see the platform start doing a better job of integrating that. So that's my prediction in 24. Maybe we won't get all the way there, but I think you're going to be seeing a lot more, hearing a lot more talk about partner success and the necessity of partner success.

Vince Menzione: How do you define the division of labor and partner success versus partner management or partner development?

Rob Spee: well, at beyond trust there is a division of labor. Our partner managers have one function really building out the business plan and making sure they can execute against it. Our partner success managers are very laser focused on the technical success of the partner, going out there and making sure that what they do, what they're capable of doing, drives customer success. Okay, so that's the connection we're enabling the partner to drive ultimately customer success.

Vince Menzione: I love it. Then they're meeting at the customer versus just meeting back at the platform.

Rob Spee: Yes, exactly. So that's number one. Number two was around metrics. You were asking about KPIs, Paul. And I predict in 24 we are going to expand much more into those ecosystem metrics. And for SaaS companies leveraging the SaaS metrics to demonstrate the value of the ecosystem and showing a comparison of the SaaS growth with the ecosystem versus trying to run without it. So I think that's another big area.

Paul Bird: Very good. And we will revisit those in a year's time. I know that at, Magentrix, one of the things that we've noticed is a focus, and not just from vendors, but also from other players in the partnership space, on the partnership experience. And I think this also goes into the customer partner success motion that you talk about. And there's really been widespread conversation on how you accomplish this, just so your program, your PRM, really meets the individual needs of each partner. Even seeing PX related jobs popping up on LinkedIn. And I think when I look at 24, I think this is going to be a continued trend. I think it'll kind of grow in intensity as people and vendors start trying to find ways to make themselves, stand out, differentiate themselves from their competition. And I think if you have kind of that ultimate optimal partner success, partner experience, I think we're going to see more of a trend with a focus area on partner experience. 

And also I think we're going to start seeing a focus more on partner engagement. I think in early stage partner programs, or people just trying to establish programs, historically, they haven't been very selective, but I think, and, actually, this is a call from earlier today, I think that Cams and partner managers are going to start realizing that they have members in their ecosystem, that they never should have entered a partnership agreement in the first place, as well as partners that are kind of bad fit. And they're part of the root cause on why they're having issues with partner engagement, and that they simply don't have all of the resources necessary to support partners that are not a good fit when they should be focusing on partners that have a good fit. 

So I think we're going to see in 2024 this focus on quality over quantity. I mean, it's been a discussion for a long time, but I think we're going to see it increase, because with fewer partners and a greater focus on enabling and engaging those partners, it gives you a better partner experience, and that's going to help you with your engagement and the partner success that you talk about. 

There was one thing that we didn't talk about as far as our predictions here. I see generative AI as a channel opportunity in 2024, and I think it means that platforms like Magentrix, we've already done some basic integration. I think that people have really seen some value from, but I think there's going to be more AI driven services, even more AI centric partnerships, and we're going to have to provide better analytics on those types of partner performance. But with that, and we saw this just a few weeks ago in the EU, I think we're going to see regulatory scrutiny when it comes to AI, usage. We're already seeing this in Canada where if you are using AI in your job hiring process, you actually need to include that with your advertisement for the position. So I think that we're going to start seeing compliance tracking for AI audit logging just to make sure that it meets regulatory know.

Rob Spee: I think you're spot on, Paul, on both fronts. AI, I think AI will contribute to the growth of the ecosystem next year by all of the tech stack incorporating into their technologies like you're doing at Magentrix. But I also think you're spot on with the partner experience that is so hugely important. We did our, kickoff in Orlando last year and we had Disney come in and they were talking about their approach to customer experience, right, and how they investigate and explore every single touch point with a customer.

Rob Spee: And the PRM is a touch point, right. So that is a major area for engagement, but you want it to be a good experience. And when they're working with a partner manager or a rep or whatever, those are touch points. And so you want to measure those touch points and how good of an experience is it? So we implemented this year a quarterly survey where we're doing an MPS score quarterly to keep a pulse on things, and then each quarter asking one or two questions about those touch points. So we migrated from the annual big monster survey and it's been so much more helpful in improving the partner experience.

Paul Bird: And we actually just completed an integration or a product module in Magentrix that actually has surveys. And those surveys include NPS scores. They include sentiment tracking, so people can get a better handle on how their ecosystem feels, not only during the onboarding process, but through the education and training process, so they can really have actionable insights on how they're doing with that partner experience and the partner success actions.

Rob Spee: That's great. Hey, I've got one more for you guys. So I'm predicting the demise of the.

Paul Bird: Channel manager that won't be a popular prediction.

Rob Spee: My title changes on January 1. The titles of all of our channel managers change on January 1, and I'm now going to be head of partner ecosystems. And all our channel managers are partner managers now. So it's just a little word game, but it actually has a big meaning to it.

Vince Menzione: Yeah.

Paul Bird: Vince, on our last discussion, you were wondering when Rob was going to change his title.

Vince Menzione: I was glad to see it happen. Well, we're seeing the rise of the chief partner officer, as, had. We did a session at our event around that.

Rob Spee: Yeah, that's a really interesting one, Vince.

Vince Menzione: Yeah. And my objective as well, and I think we all share this sentiment, is that we're represented in the right way at the C suite, whether that's a reporting structure, but we're integrated into the business. Right. We're not this separate siloed thing. I think, Rob, you're doing some great work. I think you're going to be a case study for the industry here. I love listening and watching what you're doing.

Rob Spee: Yeah. But the C suite move, I think, Vince, that is a, representation of companies recognizing that partnering is not a department, not a function, it's a business strategy.

Vince Menzione: That's right.

Rob Spee: And growth as a business requires partnering. And so that justifies bringing it up to a C suite level where you have to speak at very high levels of the impact of partnering and how to leverage the ecosystem across every department in the company.

Vince Menzione: And people say it belongs under the CRO. I mean, we've had these debates on LinkedIn and other places of forums, but people say it belongs under the CRO. But to your point, it needs to be represented in such a way that the representation goes across all the other departments. Right. And the CRO is only concerned about that pocket of sales revenue. What about the chief marketing officer? And are we aligned in the right way with finance to get the resources and integration that we need and the compensation plans that we need to drive the right behavior. So it has to be across the promulgation of it. It needs to be like an infusion and injection in every department.

Rob Spee: Yeah.

Paul Bird: All right, Rob, any final thoughts or advice for our partnership professionals as they head into 2024?

Rob Spee: Just lean into all this. There's just a moment of great change. Just embrace change. Right. Because this is really good change for all of us that grew up in the channel as the redheaded stepchilds and companies, right now is a chance to really make a difference and be heard and seen throughout and across the organization. So really embrace that change, no matter what role you're in, I think in your organization, from partner manager up to senior most levels, there's just so much more that value that you can provide and value that your partners can provide. If you really embrace it, you learn about it. Be curious, understand your partner business models and what they contribute. Understand the marketplace, the hyperscalers. There's just so much opportunity.

Paul Bird: How about you, Vince? What's the kind of one consideration that partnership, professionals should be mindful of? Going into? 24.

Vince Menzione: I'm going to lean in with Rob a little bit here. We have been living through this time of tectonic shifts, right? It's been massive over the last five years. I do believe that embracing change, dancing with change, understanding to apply agility and pivoting as necessary, is going to be critical. And we're going to continue to see more and more change. Right? We're at the beginning days of, AI, and we all need to embrace it. We all need to learn it. We all need to figure out where it's going to go, as much as we can predict. But our lives will continue to radically change. And I think it started in Covid and I think we're on a journey now. We all need to embrace it. Change is a constant.

Paul Bird: Absolutely. All right, Rob and Vince, it's been great having you on the show today. Thank you so much for being our guests and look forward to connecting with you next year.

Rob Spee: Thanks for hosting us. Paul.

Vince Menzione: Paul, thank you so much. This has been great.

Rob Spee: Happy new year.

Guest Intros
Co-selling has continued to be a bigger focus area – any notable observations around this?
Canalys’ “Co-sell Tech Matrix” report
Co-sell impact on hyperscalers?
Traditional resellers in favor of selling in marketplaces - trend in 2023?
Vendors using marketplaces to co innovate and co sell
How have partner programs changed in 2023?
Any new KPIs that you've noticed that vendors are focusing on?
Trends with partnership technology and the partner tech stack
Gen AI: Standout technologies helping partnership leaders?
PRMs are not dead
Partner-driven revenue: observations & updates
Do you think there's still an issue with partner attribution?
A review of the predictions we made last year: Vince's predictions
A review of the predictions we made last year: Rob's predictions
Predictions for 2024: Vince's predictions
Predictions for 2024: Rob's predictions
Predictions for 2024: Magentrix's predictions
Paul on Gen AI as a channel opportunity
Rob on AI, partner experience and PRM
Rob's final thoughts for partnership professionals as they head into 2024
Vince on the one consideration partnership professionals should be mindful of as they head into 2024