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How to maintain an optimal partner experience as your partner tech stack evolves

As your partner program grows in scale and complexity, partner experience standards can slip. Lack of tools and processes compromises partner experience, leading to broader consequences than just a disgruntled channel manager. Implement the right tools to foster your partner ecosystem's growth. In this article, we’re unpacking what the current partner tech market is like, as well as looking at what type of tool you need and at what stage of your partner journey.
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The rise of partner tech

The Canalys Ecosystem Landscape 2023 above showcases just how many partner tech tools are out there right now. Imagine the jetlag if you tried to test them all. 

This is a result of the rise in partnerships as a go-to-market (GTM) strategy, as well as the fact the industry was severely lacking in tech for a while. Seems everyone noticed that and hopped on the bandwagon – which is a great thing – but it makes for an overwhelming experience for both vendors and partners. 

How are you supposed to know which piece of tech clicks in with the other, and at what stage they should all be used? Do you really need tech to support your program? All good questions; let’s get some answers.

A partner program in its infancy

When you’re just beginning to grow your partner program, it’s likely you won’t have two pennies to rub together. A poor channel manager begging for budget scraps until you can prove your worth. So, it’s manual work like spreadsheets for you – woohoo.

A popular alternative to jumping straight into a co-sell tool is lead swapping. This is where companies exchange leads with partners instead. This is worth considering if you don’t have any business relationships yet and want an easy way of generating leads, without having to invest in tech straight away. 

You’ll notice as you shop around that while there’s still a lot of delineation between direct sales and partnership selling, most tech investment is still heavily skewed towards customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Make sure when you do invest in a tool that has the right capabilities for your program. 

Once you are ready to invest in your partner tech stack, you can get the ball rolling with co-selling tools such as account mapping. Some options include Reveal, Crossbeam and PartnerTap. However, you may not want to invest in a full platform just yet. 

It’s a balancing act between finding the right tech to facilitate your partner's growth without overspending. But whatever stage you’re at, keep your partner's experience at the forefront of your mind to ensure they keep coming back to you. 

How to grow your partner program

Once you’ve begun to sign more partners, and you have different partner types such as resellers, referrals, MSPs, ISVs, and SIs, you have a different problem on your hands. 

The manual tasks have become overwhelming, your spreadsheets are on fire, and booking all your annual leave at once is looking mighty tempting. This is when you need a PRM.

The benefits of investing in a PRM at this stage in your partner journey is that it’ll avoid stagnation. Once you’ve done the hard work of getting your program off the ground, the last thing you want to do is stall because there’s not enough hours in the day to do all the enablement, marketing, and other tasks that can be automated. 

Automation will help you streamline your onboarding, lead distribution, communication, deal registration, performance tracking, incentive calculations, content management, reporting, and more, making your program more efficient and data-driven.

And at this stage with the healthy KPIs you’re seeing from partnership selling, you should have more budget available to invest in your partner tech stack. 

The value of partnerships

There’s a lot of value in partnerships. Businesses report that by moving to an ecosystem model of trading, they typically see:

  • 65% increased efficiency and reduced cost
  • 56% improved new customer acquisition
  • 47% accelerated product-to-market

Now, your focus can be on creating an ideal experience for your partners. By doing so, you will not only retain them, but open up more growth opportunities. Partners are way more likely to advocate for you if they’re engaged and happy. 

Mature partner program

Once you have a mature partnership program and more people working on it, you’ll be ready to fully integrate your co-sell motions into your go-to-market strategy. 

It is at this point that you want to introduce tools such as Crossbeam, Reveal, or Workspan, into your tech stack to significantly enhance your partner program management. Crossbeam helps identify overlapping target customers, fostering collaboration among partners. Reveal offers advanced analytics, enabling data-driven decision-making. Workspan streamlines partner planning and collaboration, improving overall program efficiency and effectiveness. 

So, now you’ve completed your tech stack, you’re bringing in new partners, and even your sales team has integrated partnership selling into their activities, 

You’ve made it – your partnership ecosystem is growing. Let’s all relax.

Aha, wait, not really. 

This is the time where it’s crucial to refocus on the partner experience you’re delivering. Across all your partner types, things will be getting more complex. A good PRM tool at this stage will help you to double down on partner engagement to maximize the value of the ecosystem.

Keeping partners engaged with co-keep

It’s imperative you show your partners you’re dedicated to them by providing an unparalleled experience. This is what Allbound has coined as ‘co-keep.’

Co-keep focuses on retaining partners. This is what PRM technology has been helping businesses achieve for many years. 

With a co-keep solution in place, the partner experience ensures an enduring and valuable relationship, driven by transparency, ease of interaction and mutual responsibility. This makes for a resilient ecosystem.

The co-keep stage also provides tremendous opportunity to identify other ideal partners. There are many AI-driven signals, such as partner activity, deal frequency, velocity and value, engagement indicators, and user behavior, that can be used to identify the very best partners to add to your ecosystem through the co-sell motion.

Find the right partner tech for you

Investing in the right tech stack for your partnership program is just as important as anything else you do in your partner program. After all, it’s what underpins your entire partner experience. 

As the scale of the partner ecosystem gets more complex, the mutual value that well-developed partnerships have the potential to deliver is exponential. 

This is why having a ‘co-keep’ mentality is so integral to your partnership success; your focus and tech stack both need to be on creating an unforgettable experience. 

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