min read

Your Go-to Glossary for Channel Partnerships

Learn the definitions of common terms used by channel partners and partnership leaders.
Glossary of Terms Used in Channel Partnerships
Published on
December 6, 2022


Every industry develops its own language or jargon for discussing trends, strategies, operations, and the like.

Have you ever been caught off guard by an obscure acronym in a partner meeting? Trust us, we know the feeling.

Luckily, our industry is one of thought-sharing, not exclusivity.

In this spirit, we've created a cheat sheet for all of the hot buzzwords being used by channel partners and partnership pros alike. Use our glossary as a training resource or a handy tool for your next webinar.

Glossary of Terms Used in Channel Partnerships

From A to Z, we've got you covered.



The process of activation involves utilizing partner data and goals to enhance and mobilize the entire partner experience, as well as collaboratively working with the partnership and operations team to help accelerate their experience across all touchpoints and channels and accomplish crucial partner activation goals.

Activation Rate

The activation rate is the percentage of people who successfully complete a specific milestone in your onboarding process.

Improving your activation rate entails demonstrating the value of your partner program to partners and motivating them by experimenting with different growth strategies.

Affiliate Partner

Affiliate partners are a portion of marketing partners who help you increase your company's exposure and marketing reach in order to grow your customer base and revenue. 

These partners can be companies, people, or even other affiliate programs.

Affiliate Program

An affiliate program is a contract in which a company agrees to pay another company or influencer a commission in exchange for sending traffic and/or sales their way. It also provides a third-party platform that enables people and brands to connect and collaborate.

In a SaaS affiliate partnership, rewards are given to publishers for promoting SaaS products and directing leads into sales funnels. 

Publishers include deal sites, blogs, marketplaces, and others.

How affiliate programs work. Source: Saasquatch

Agency Partner

An agency partner is a company that can help you expand your marketing reach, earn qualified leads, provide value to existing customers, and explore potential buyers you would not have been able to reach otherwise.


A partnership agreement is a contract between two or more business partners that outlines the general partnership rules and rights and responsibilities, as well as profit and loss distribution.

This agreement is essential to prevent disputes, misunderstandings, or any changes that might arise over the course of the business relationship.


Alignment in a partnership entails understanding key objectives for achieving the partnership's vision, mission, core values, and goals, which is critical for long-term partnership success.

Alignment in a partnership can help drive brand awareness, provide scale by extending sales and technical resources, gain access to new markets, and help the partnership achieve better results.


Alliances are multifaceted, complex partnerships that represent a higher-quality opportunity, with global or major platforms. They are less transactional and more long-term strategic alliances.

The primary goal of alliance partnerships is to enter and expand into new markets, establish new businesses, develop new products, and innovate.

Roles and responsibilities of channel and alliance partners. Source: SlideTeam

Asset Sharing

Asset sharing refers to the sharing of all property in a partnership, whether tangible or intangible, among partners in order to increase and accelerate the partnership's growth.


B2B Partnerships

B2B partnerships are strategic collaborations between two or more businesses with the aim of developing a partnership that will be advantageous to both parties and drive growth and revenue while providing substantial value to all shareholders.


The benefits of a partnership are incentives given to partners for significantly increasing sales and profitability, encouraging consistency, increasing productivity, and increasing loyalty and engagement in the partnership.

Key benefits include increased revenue, indirect sales channels, and an expanded product portfolio, and a larger network.


A bottleneck is a point in the partnership where the flow of data is congested, causing the system to slow down or stop completely.

This can range from leads in the pipeline who are "not ready to buy" to content bottlenecks, which are any gaps between consumer demand for content and the marketing organization's ability to deliver that content.

Short-term bottlenecks are usually caused by a labor shortage. Long-term bottlenecks are more deeply embedded in the system and are distinguished by inefficient machinery or processes.

Bottleneck meaning. Source: WallstreetMojo

Business Partnerships

A business partnership is a type of business where two or more people jointly own the company and are responsible for managing it and for any profits or losses it makes.

The three different types of business partnerships are: 

  • General partnership
  • Limited partnership
  • Limited liability partnerships

Business Plan

The business plan serves as a road map for defining the operational strategy of your partner program in line with the overarching business strategy.

Each business plan establishes sales, marketing, and training goals that are in line with the objectives of your organization.

Creating business plans is a must before beginning a partnership program. This makes it easier for everyone involved in a partnership to understand the objectives and the resources required to achieve them.



Certifications are awards given to partners for achieving certain goals in a partner program. It enables your partners to improve their skills while also gaining a competitive advantage through strategic partnership courses.

Channel Partner

A channel partner is a company that collaborates with another organization to market or sell their services, products, or technologies to end users while also generating revenue.

Channel partners include value-added resellers (VARs), systems integrators, consultants, managed service providers (MSPs), original equipment manufacturers, distributors, and independent software vendors.

Channel Partner Program

A channel partner program is a business strategy in which a company collaborates with a third party to increase the reach, effectiveness, and value of both parties by inspiring and engaging channel partners to create more value for customers.

Channel Sales

Channel sales is when a company sells products through third-party partners. These partners could be resellers, value-added providers, affiliate partners, or another distributor that has been contracted by a representative or business.


Commissions are the compensation structure used to recognize and/or reward partners for working hard to reach a particular goal. Instead of receiving a percentage of the sale, partners are paid a set sum of money.


Co-marketing is when companies work together to promote each other's products or services using a partner marketing strategy that can broaden their target markets and boost their marketing efficiency.


Content is educational material created to be shared with partners in the partner program in order to help the partnerships expand their reach and improve partners' performance.

This content includes everything from marketing assets to training materials.

Customer Success

Customer success is a technique for ensuring that customers get the results they want when using a company's product or service. 


Data Tracking 

Data tracking is the process of collecting, organizing, and analyzing specific metrics and events in order to improve your business and optimize the partner experience.


A sale closed by your sales team as a result of a lead submitted by a partner.

Deals Management

Deal management is the process of planning, monitoring, maintaining, prioritizing, and analyzing sales in the pipeline with the objective of speeding up the sales process and increasing conversions.

Screenshot of the Deals dashboard in Kiflo.


The term "DevOps" (short for "Developer Operations") refers to a set of procedures and instruments that integrate the processes of software development, testing, and deployment.

DevOps aims to improve communication between those who write code (developers) and those who deploy, manage, and administer applications (IT operations teams).

Direct Channel

The channel through which products are delivered directly from the manufacturer or vendor to the end user, typically through a network of professionally trained partners. 

The goal of direct channels is for businesses to save money and have more control over their products and sales by eliminating intermediaries.


A distributor is a company that buys from manufacturers and sells to retailers, other manufacturers, or contractors. A B2B wholesale distributor does not typically sell to the end user.


The term "drive" refers to a partner's motivation for doing something, particularly joining and participating in a partner program.



An ecosystem is a network of complementary businesses that share customers, prospects, and geographic regions as well as an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). They coordinate all indirect distribution channels and take advantage of cooperative marketing and sales strategies with the ultimate objective of accelerating revenue.

Ecosystem Partner

These are partners within the ecosystem who add value throughout the distribution chain by assisting you with product promotion and distribution. This includes resellers, co-sellers, and/or service providers.

These partners provide numerous opportunities for a company to accelerate revenue growth.

Existing Partner

Existing Partner refers to any partner who is neither a withdrawn partner nor a new partner.


An evangelist focuses on bridging internal and external communications by gaining support for a particular technology and making it the industry standard. They fill the gap between a product marketer's responsibilities and the company's direct contact with customers.

They act as the company's "ambassador," engaging with people outside the organization face-to-face and on social media, and can also help you find the best partnership with a business that is a good fit for your product.



A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) list is frequently used in articles, websites, email lists, and online forums where common questions are frequently asked.

A FAQ's primary goal is to answer frequently asked questions or concerns, but because the format is helpful for organizing information, any text that includes questions and answers can be referred to as a FAQ, regardless of how frequently the questions are asked. 

FAQs can be used in your partner help center to support their operations and help you scale your program.

Feedback Loops 

Built-in moments in the partner management process to collect feedback from partners. Feedback loops should be tailored to each type and tier of partner.

Flat Commission

A flat commission is a compensation plan where partners receive a fixed sum of money rather than a percentage of the sale.


Give-first Mentality

A give-first mentality entails attempting to assist entrepreneurs and/or partners without expecting anything in return.

Go-to-Ecosystem (GTE)

A strategy intended to successfully launch a product to market, but with a focus on utilizing and connecting with the larger ecosystem rather than a specific market.

Go-to-Market (GTM)

Go-to-market (GTM) is a plan that outlines how a company will engage with customers in order to persuade them to buy their product or service and gain a competitive advantage.


Help Center

A help center is a place where all partners and customers can go to get answers to their questions and problems solved.

The Kiflo Help Center is a one-stop shop for resources, guides, support, and more!


Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

The ideal customer profile describes the type of company to which you should try to sell. It includes information such as the company's size, industry, location, revenue, and target audience in a B2B setting.

In a B2C context, an ideal customer profile focuses on individual customers and includes demographic information such as age, gender, and lifestyle preferences.

Ideal Partner Profile (IPP)

The ideal partner persona is a research-based profile that outlines the qualities and qualifications of the ideal business partner.

Steps in creating an ideal partner profile. Source: Business Development Paths

The typical contents of an IPP include details about the business's type, location, size, sector, and other crucial elements. Businesses can spend less time and money searching for the ideal partner if they are clear on what they are looking for in a partner.

Inactive Partner

A partner in your program who has joined your program but is not engaged in activities that add value to your company.


When a business focuses on creating and distributing content that draws people to their website. The desired result is a potential customer or prospect contacts the company to inquire about a product or service.

Incentive Program

Incentive programs are employed in business management to encourage partners to meet their objectives, which typically include exceeding the number of products sold and the rate of repeat business.

The way incentive programs work is by providing "perks" in the form of additional benefits, like chances to earn more money through years of service or referral bonuses. Programs with incentives are very effective at both keeping existing partners on board and luring in new ones.

Incentive Management

Incentive management is when you ensure that the incentive investment is yielding the best possible return and that your program remains on course.

Independent Software Vendor (ISV)

An independent software vendor (ISV), also known as a software publisher, is a company that focuses on creating and selling software rather than computer hardware. The software products are designed to run on one or more computer hardware or operating system (OS) platforms.

A hardware manufacturer does not own or control these vendors.

Indirect Channel

An indirect channel transports goods from the manufacturer to the consumer via a number of intermediaries, such as a wholesaler.

Indirect Sales

Indirect sales are the sales of goods or services that rely on third-party intermediaries such as affiliates and resellers to bridge the gap between the company and potential customers.


Integration is the process of combining smaller components into a single, operational system. 

In partnerships, it is when two organizations "integrate" their services or products by connecting their systems through the development of an app, allowing customers to use the two technologies more easily and effectively.

Screenshot of how to sync lead and deal information from HubSpot in Kiflo.

Integration Partner

An integration partner is a partner with software that connects or integrates with your products by developing an API between the systems in order to provide a more seamless experience for end users.


Joint Value Proposition (JVP) 

A joint value proposition is an important positioning statement that necessitates collaboration, cooperation, and, in some cases, translation to create successful and cohesive partnerships.


Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable indicators of progress toward a specific goal. They are often set for a certain period of time, such as quarterly. 



A lead is a contact who has already been identified as a prospective customer, but it can also be referred to as any sales contact.

Lead Management

Lead management is the process of acquiring and managing leads until they make a purchase decision.

Manage your leads within Kiflo's PRM Software.

Lifecycle [Partner]

The lifecycle encompasses all stages of a partnership relationship, as well as the nurturing of the entire partnership lifecycle.

Links [Affiliate, Referral]

Links are used by partners (usually affiliate or referral partners) in a partner program to direct traffic and sales to a website. The links are unique and trackable so the partners can be properly attributed for the revenue earned from that traffic.

Long-tail Partners

Long-tail partners are those who make up 80% of a vendor's partner network but only account for 20% of their revenue.  


Managed Services Providers (MSP)

A managed service provider (MSP) is a third-party business that remotely manages an end-IT user's infrastructure. 

They are typically employed by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), nonprofit organizations and governmental organizations to carry out a specific range of daily management tasks.

Marketing Development Funds (MDF)

Market Development Funds (MDFs) are resources provided by vendors to their indirect sales channel partners to help channel marketing maximize their channel marketing spending and increase profitability. These are often offered as an incentive in the partner program.

Channel partners can use MDFs to promote their brands to audiences that were unavailable to them previously.

Marketing Partner

A marketing partner is a partner who drives traffic to your site via tracked links and earns a cut of your profits when that traffic converts, with the goal of expanding the brand's reach by promoting to their respective niche audiences.


Metrics are quantitative assessment measures that are frequently used for evaluating, contrasting, and tracking performance or production. 

Both internal managers and external stakeholders heavily rely on metrics when performing financial analyses of businesses.



Nearbound, a term recently coined by Reveal, requires going beyond the traditional partnership concept to influence every stage of your revenue-generating process, from lead generation to client retention. 

This entails harnessing the full power of your ecosystem and the businesses with whom you have built connections.

Quote from the Nearbound Manifesto. Source: Reveal

New Partners

A new partner is a partner that has just joined your partner program.

New User Acquisition

New partner acquisition is the process of expanding your partner program by enrolling new partners. This includes your partner recruitment strategy as well as the application process for your partner program. 


Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) 

Objectives and key results (OKRs) are goal-setting frameworks used by individuals, teams, and organizations to define measurable goals and track their outcomes. They are used to encourage businesses to set, communicate, and monitor broad organizational goals and results.


Partner onboarding is the process of signing up new partners and providing them with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in selling your product or service.

Onboarding Pipeline

Onboarding pipelines are processes that integrate new partners into the organization and allow you to track their progress and ensure they are ready to sell your product.

Get your partners off to a good start by creating an optimal onboarding process in Kiflo.


A one-pager is a written pitch for your company that distills your business down to its core components in order to pique the interest of potential partners.

Ops [Operations]

Operations are the processes that encompass everything that affects the production, distribution, service, and management required for a company to function and that necessitates the use of resources and assets.


Outbound is a common sales and partner recruitment strategy that aims to find relevant people before reaching out to them to pique their interest in a product.



Partnerships are joint ventures between an organization and other organizations, businesses, or individuals with the aim of fostering mutually beneficial relationships that will sustain growth and add substantial value to all parties.

Partner Enablement

Partner enablement is providing your partners with the education, resources, and tools they need to do business successfully and increase your revenue. This can be accomplished by implementing technology-driven initiatives to boost productivity.

Partner Engagement

The process of keeping partners engaged in your program by implementing plans and initiatives to help partners drive traffic, submit leads, and drive value through your program.

Partner engagement aims to keep partners enthusiastically on board and dedicated to achieving success together.

Partner Feedback

Partner feedback is helpful information or criticism provided by partners to indicate what can be done to improve performance and/or product.

Partner Journey

The partner journey is the totality of the interactions, education, enrollment, and value-generation processes that partners go through with a partner program. 

Depending on the business, the partner journey's steps and their relative importance can be defined differently.

Partner Manager

A partner manager cultivates business relationships with partners with the primary goal of identifying connections that will help the company achieve its objectives and create opportunities for all parties involved.

Partner Marketing

Partner marketing is a strategic joint effort between two or more companies with the goal of using the partnership to help achieve business goals such as increasing sales/engagement and providing additional value to their target audience/s by joining forces.

Partner Marketplace

Partner marketplaces give partners, SaaS, and enterprise software vendors a new channel for marketing their goods and services. They also assist in determining what will work best for clients and what end users want in a solution.

Screenshot of the HubSpot Partner Marketplace.

Partner Program

A partner program is a business strategy that connects a variety of businesses with their own clientele and sales channels to various partners who can assist a business in entering new markets and verticals in order to increase brand recognition, lead generation, and ultimately sales.

Partner Recruitment

Partner recruitment is the admission process of expanding your partner program by enrolling new partners found based on your goals and IPP into your partner program.

Partner Retention

Partner retention is a metric that tracks a company's success in keeping partners in its partner program over time.

Partner Relationship Management (PRM)

PRM systems are web- or cloud-based and include a partner portal, customer database, and other tools that let businesses and partners automate, and manage leads, revenues, opportunities, and sales metrics.

Partner Satisfaction

Partnership satisfaction allows you to track relationships with your partners and is the ultimate predictor of how likely a customer is to make a future purchase from a partner. 

Partner Success

Partner success arises when partners use best practices to accomplish a task and align them to grow throughout the partnerships. 

Partner success entails proactive measures to ensure growth, empowering partners to promote adoption, expansion, and renewals.


A payout is a sum of money that is given to someone as compensation or a dividend when a goal is achieved.


[No terms yet!]


Recurring Revenue

Recurring revenue represents a company's stable, predictable, and consistent source of income.

Referral Partner

A referral partner is a person or company that promotes your goods or services to others they have cultivated connections with in return for incentives.

Reseller Partner

A reseller partner is a business that helps a vendor in selling its goods and services to the final consumer. Wholesalers, brokers, and retailers are included in this.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on Investment is a simple ratio that divides an investment's net profit (or loss) by its cost.

ROI is most helpful to your business goals when it refers to something specific and measurable, and is used to identify the benefits and financial returns of your investment.


Requirements are a prerequisite that a partner must meet in order to participate in your partner program or any other business deals you have to offer, 

Revenue Share Reward

A rewards structure that enables companies to share their success with stakeholders. For example, a vendor and a partner split the deal's earnings.


Rewards are non-monetary and monetary compensation given to a partner when a goal is met or exceeded. They are used to motivate and engage partners to provide more value to customers. 


SaaS Partner Programs

A SaaS partner program is a revenue stream whereby SaaS companies pay existing customers, complementary companies, or integration partners each time they bring in a new customer in exchange for them promoting and/or distributing their product.

Sales Partners

Sales Partners are individuals or business partners who market, promote, distribute, or sell SaaS products in an effort to expand the network of channel partners.


Segmentation is the process of using data and analysis to categorize partners based on their high, medium, and low performance and growth potential, with the goal of establishing a clear context for how they should be prioritized.

Kiflo helps you create segmented tiers and rewards for your partners.

Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are the formal procedures for safeguarding partners' data from loss, tampering, misuse, and corruption. This entails abiding by all rules that are relevant to the company, as well as using, managing, and storing all partner data appropriately.

Service Partners

The term "Service Partner" refers to any Partner who works for or performs services for the Partnership and/or any of its Subsidiaries. You can implement strategies that will ultimately be beneficial to both of your companies by forming service partnerships.

Solution Partners

A solution partner is a vendor, service provider, or value-added reseller (VAR) who thoroughly manages their client's project needs from concept to installation through support and a combination of concepts utilized to help a business reach its objectives.

Applicable solutions include technological evaluation, strategy planning, and the synthesis of complicated business information.

Strategic Partnerships

Strategic partnerships are collaborations between two organizations that offer overlapping or complementary goods or services and that share resources with the goal of expanding and succeeding together.


Technology Partners

Technology partnerships assist businesses in putting their technical systems into place and optimizing them, which inevitably improves business performance. 

These partners are businesses in the technology sector that work together to produce goods and services like plugins, integrations, and mobile applications.


Tiers are distinct program levels with particular rewards, requirements, and advantages that let you fully harness your partners' drive and cater to their needs.

A slide showing partner tiers and the role they play in the program. Source: Crossbeam


A touchpoint is any interaction between a customer or a partner; it can occur during an information exchange, a service interaction, or even during partner recruitment.


Educational materials and programming are designed to teach partners how to use your product or service so they can successfully sell it, as well as a tool for empowering partners and an incentive embedded in the program.


A trigger is a method for sending partners automatic messages throughout the partner journey.

When a message is activated—by a specific date and time, a shift in the state of the world, a user action, or the passage of time since the last interaction—it is then delivered. 


Us + Them Story

This is the narrative you create with your partners about the solutions and benefits your partnership may offer to end users.

User Interface

The user interface, also known as the UI, is the focal point of human-computer interaction and communication in a device. It is also the means by which a user interacts with a website or application, making it simple for them to use and enabling a smooth workflow.

User Experience

User experience is the sensation a user has while utilizing a product, application, system, or service. It's an all-encompassing phrase that can be used to describe anything, including how simple a product is to use and how pertinent the displayed content is.


Value Added Reseller (VAR)

A value-added reseller enhances an existing product with new functions or services before reselling it as a fully functional "turn-key" solution.

Infographic explaining how a VAR works. Source: TechTarget



The term white-glove describes customer service that goes above and beyond partners' expectations and places the highest priority on special care or attention to detail.

It entails prioritizing their needs, genuinely caring about their success, and personalizing their experience with the goal of increasing overall partner satisfaction.


White-label products and services are re-brandable and re-sellable items manufactured by one company that resellers can rebrand and resell to end users as their own.


[No terms yet!]



[No terms yet!]



Zap [Zapier]

Zapier is a service that connects services by triggering events in one or more actions in another; each connection is referred to as a Zap.  It is often used in partnership tech to create integrations and workflows between software in a stack.

Example of a zap. Source: Zapier


Now that you have a general understanding of the terminology we use in partnerships, you can use the definitions in this glossary to create a common language among partners and stakeholders.

Table of contents
Weekly newsletter
No spam. Just interesting articles, and exclusive interviews and tips in your inbox.
Read about our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Start Scaling Partner Revenue Today

Get a personalized demo of our all-in-one partnerships platform.
Frequently Asked Questions

Your right to know

Got a question? Get your answer