Key Takeaways: The State of Partner Ops and Programs Report
Christmas came a little early this year when HubSpot announced the release of The State of Partner Ops and Programs Report, a detailed breakdown of the impact partnership ecosystems have had on companies in 2022.
Now, if you’re a data nerd/HubSpot enthusiast like we are, you know that this baby is chock-full of mindblowing statistics about all things partnerships.
And while the authors—Scott Brinker, Asher Mathew, Jay McBain, and Kelly Sarabyn—did a fabulous job of presenting the data in a straightforward way, for those not so into reading survey findings, it’s probably not your first choice for reading materials.
This is why we wanted to take some time to drill down to and organize the key lessons to be learned from this important report and, most importantly, what they mean for your program.
What is The State of Partner Ops and Programs Report?
The 94-page report includes insights into the wins, losses, goals, and struggles of partnerships, particularly partner operations, program design, and strategy. It also includes a section of curated essays from other contributors providing other perspectives on the data.
The data is derived from a survey of over 650 partner professionals and executives from August 24 to September 23, 2022. As the authors share of their research methodology:
- This survey was conducted online.
- It survived 664 professionals who have knowledge of the partnerships or channel function at their organization completed the survey.
- Responses that did not answer the majority of the questions were not included in the data.
- The organizations represented employed from 0-50 (37%), 51-200 (19%), 201-500 (14%), 501-2,000 (14%), to 2,001 and over people (16%).
- 67% were headquartered in NAM, 25% in EMEA, 6% in APAC, and 2% in LATAM.
- The seniority of the respondents was 13% C-suite, 15% executives, 46% managers, and 26% individual contributors.
- 64% were in computer software, 21% in services, 7% in media, 4% in telecom, 2% in computer hardware, and 4% in other industries.
Now that we know what the report is and how it was created, let’s get to the fun part: what it has to teach us. Here are the key takeaways from The State of Partner Ops and Programs Report and how they can directly impact your partnership efforts.
Partnerships are Driving Major Revenue
It’s not at all surprising that companies are bringing in major bucks with their partner programs. HubSpot shares that “49.4% of organizations attribute 26% or more of their revenue to partners.”
What is surprising, however, are the factors that are impacting companies to have more partner-led revenue than others. Let’s take a closer look at these factors:
While some of these factors are not feasible for SMBs, including the most impactful factor of having 5 or more full-time partner ops employees, we can find a common (and more doable) thread throughout the responses: Investment.
This doesn’t necessarily mean solely monetary investment but strategic, company-wide investment. Companies prioritizing partnerships in actionable ways (hires, partnership tech, and C-level buy-in) are seeing higher ROIs from their partnerships.
What You Can Do
Here are some actions you can take today to make sure you are getting the most revenue possible from your partnerships:
- Consider hiring one dedicated Partner Manager for your program.
- Find partnership technology, such as Kiflo PRM, that can grow with your program, assist your partnership team in organizing and scaling the program, and can relieve your team of manual tasks.
- Give your full support. If you are a CEO or supervisor, educate yourself on the importance and interworkings of partnerships, and then align your teams. Your program will only work if everyone sees its value.
Successful Programs Have Common Characteristics
Because so many companies are finding high returns with partnerships, everyone wants to give it a try. The report explains that “77.6% of all organizations and 92.6% of enterprise companies have a partner program.” That is a lot of partner programs, which means more competition and, therefore, that some programs are much more successful than others.
So, how are those organizations driving 26% or more revenue from partners doing it? How are they structuring their programs to stay competitive and appealing to partners?
HubSpot reports three main characteristics of successful partner programs:
- Allocating resources on a programmatic basis. This means that partner enablement resources are shared consistently and predictably. As the authors explain, “Allocating resources on a programmatic basis is key to driving more revenue through partners as it provides clarity, transparency, and incentives for the vast majority of partners in a way that is cost-effective at scale.”
- Having deep internal alignment. In order for programs to have the support needed to programmatically and automatically allocate resources in the partner program, everyone needs to be on board—especially those in charge.
- Implementing repeatable processes. Programs can only scale if processes and operations within it can be easily replicated.
Are you struggling with these characteristics in your own program? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Though these are common threads between successful programs, they are also some of the biggest challenges across companies of all sizes.
How You Can Improve these Characteristics for Your Program
Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your program gets through these challenges:
- Organize your program by partner type and tier. This helps you and your team to create specific and relevant resources for each type of partner. It also ensures that you create repeatable tasks based on the needs of that specific partner.
- Centralize your program using partnership technology. Partnership technology can assist with almost every major struggle on this list. Again, it allows you to easily repeat tasks, reducing manual work for partner managers, and helping you to track and assign partner influence. It also allows you to easily share customized resources, enabling your partners and their teams. Lastly, it keeps communication between you and your partners clear and efficient.
- Get your teams aligned. As stated before, this is important in almost every aspect of your program’s success.
Partnership Tech is the Key to Everything
As you’ve probably noticed, there is a clear theme appearing throughout this data:
Partnership tech is at the center of successful programs.
HubSpot reports that “65.2% of organizations are using at least one partner tech system. The PRM is the most widely used system, with 36.7% of organizations using one.”
Why the PRM? Because it is essentially a one-stop-shop for all thing partner ops. If you are looking to improve efficiency internally and partner experience externally, the PRM is the clear solution.
A PRM like Kiflo can help you:
- Structure and organize your program by partner type and tier
- Coordinate training, onboarding, and certification processes
- Track lead and deal progress and attribution
- Build and share a knowledge base of resources and materials
- Collaborate and communicate with partners on a shared pipeline
- Build trust and transparency with partners by providing visibility
- Measure partner performance data
- Create clear requirements, rewards, and benefits
- Track and schedule commission and payouts
And that’s not even the whole list.
Take a look at the benefits partner professionals have seen in their own operations after implementing partnership technology:
A Quick Tip for SMBs
Now, if you’re the CEO or decision maker of a startup or SMB, we know that you might be thinking something along the lines of:
- We don’t have a big company or a big program.
- We don’t need (or can’t afford) a PRM.
- Our team doesn’t even want something like that.
To put it nicely, you’d be wrong.
HubSpot reports that “96.2% of partner tech users and 90.1% of non-users believe their organization should be using partner technology.” This means that, if you don’t currently have partnership tech in your stack, your partner team members believe it’s a mistake, and are probably suffering because of it.
Which means that your program is suffering, too.
As a startup or SMB, don’t sell yourself short on the opportunities partnerships can bring for not just revenue, but brand reach, influence, customer satisfaction, and much more.
Just because you’re a smaller company doesn’t mean you have to think small.
If The State of Partner Ops and Programs has taught us anything, it’s that companies are most successful in partnerships when they commit to it fully.
And luckily, that doesn’t have to mean a major financial investment.
For example, Kiflo offers our Starter Plan for just $249 per month for programs with 5 partners or fewer.