Measuring Partnership Success, Part 1: Noah Thomas
Updated: Mar 30
This article was guest written by Shohei Narron, Technology Partner Manager at Google Cloud
Read more about this series in this introduction article.
I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down and discussing how six alliances professionals responsible for various types of partnerships on how they measure success, and the road to to achieving it. As always, I’ll be posting one conversation per week for the next six weeks in the hopes of elevating partnerships within an organization, if not to just make everyone’s lives a little easier.
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Background and Context: “I’d say that I am first and foremost a Marketer. I started at Commercient as an intern almost 5 years ago, and ended up coming on full-time after four months of interning as the 4th hire. We’ve grown our partner ecosystem from just Salesforce to 435 partners today. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the organization grow from four employees to 80+, touching on marketing, sales, and partnerships along the way.”
What We Measure: “We’re looking at two things: how to double-down on our growth stage, and maximizing our subscriber base. This means we’re measuring total number of signed partners since our partnership model is more like an affiliate channel mode; recurring referrals, as in how long it takes for a partner to bring the second referral; how many leads partners bring in per year; and how many conversions we see per partner per year.
We also look at the number of customer case studies we create with our partners. It’s important to have these so we can tell a more robust story past just moving data from one place to another.”
Commercient’s Clear Partnership Growth and Results Across Time: “When we didn’t have a real partner ecosystem, 80% of our deals came through direct sales. As the ecosystem grew, we put more tactical processes to improve not only partner involvement, but also tracking. This has resulted in 90% of sales now being done with partner attachment.”
How to Measure Outcomes with ISVs: “Our product wouldn’t be what it is without ISV partners. We’ve partnered with most major CRM providers like Microsoft, Salesforce, and SugarCRM, and have a very intimate 1–1 relationship. We’ve tried to ingrain ourselves in their ecosystems and make sure we can benefit our customers and other partners, but it’s more of a soft science since revenue and leads aren’t the primary metric. For us, marketing activities are more important — things like NPS scores, number of of reviews and ratings, customer case studies, etc. The easiest thing to track are reviews since they’re instant, you see it, and it gives you an opportunity to respond.”
Rewarding Partnership Team Members on Activity and Results: “Of course, having partners doesn’t mean much if they don’t lead to conversions. Our partnership team members are rewarded based on how many customers a partner signs, though over time, partner team members who focus on ISVs would be treated differently. Partner managers often feel like they’re isolated on an island — they’re not sales but they’re measured on revenue; they’re not marketing but they have to influence brand. It’s more than just working with more companies to get more customers, and building a long-lasting referral channel across events across time takes more effort than people realize. Think about it — you have to build long-term relationship with partner-side people who rotate every few years, and also maintain good relationships with your sales and marketing folks.”
Partnership Leaders is the industry association for Partnership/Channel/ Alliances/Business Development leaders.
The association’s mission is to elevate the role of partnership leaders at their companies and provides a vibrant online community, virtual events, curated professional networking opportunities, and educational resources to drive success for our members.