Scaling Partnerships at Intercom
This article is part of our Uncovering the Partnerships Career Path spotlight series. Each week, a different professional joins us to share their take on the partnerships career path, responsibilities at each stage, best practices for advancing professionally, and more. Learn more in the intro article.
Catherine Brodigan spent years in account management before landing at Intercom, where she now manages the global partnerships team. Today, Catherine joins us to discuss her experience growing partnerships, advice for others, and more.
Thanks to Allbound for sponsoring this quarter’s spotlight series!
Allbound is a SaaS Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform that gives its customers visibility into predictable channel revenue, indirect and direct pipeline, and insight into partner engagement and adoption. With Allbound, you have the ability to monitor, understand, and track partner behavior so you can measure, iterate, and improve.
Transitioning to Partner Management at Intercom
Catherine Brodigan has been at Intercom since 2016. “I joined as one of the early members of the sales team here in EMEA when the team was at 200. Now, we’re at a headcount of 650+. I spent my first four years working on the account management team, then transitioned to the partnerships team at the beginning of 2020.”
Right now, Catherine is focused on scaling Intercom’s partnership motions. “I was a founding member of the account management team here and got to see how our team and our revenue growth scaled evolved over the years. Now, I have a fantastic opportunity to grow another team at Intercom. Even though we’re at quite an early stage with partnerships at Intercom. We’re already seeing strong revenue growth signals, so my focus is now on growing our team and optimizing our processes and our tech stack as we scale.”
Prior Career Experiences
Intercom is Catherine’s first experience working in partnerships. “I spent a few years working as an Account Manager with Twitter, where my customers worked quite a bit with partners, so it was a familiar space for me there. As an Account Manager at Intercom, I learned early that our partners add value across all our solutions, and I always really enjoyed helping the customers I worked with to develop their tech stack around Intercom.”
Intercom has a mature integration ecosystem and launched its app store in 2018 which unlocked lots of additional utility to build apps and workflows on top of Intercom. Since 2018, the app store has grown from having 100 partners at launch to almost 300 partners today.
“Our mission at Intercom is to make internet business personal. Our ideal partners really complement that mission. There are an awful lot of businesses that had to become internet businesses very quickly in 2020. With so many businesses having to shift online, being able to communicate with customers effectively and at scale is more important than ever.”
Growing Partnerships at Intercom
Catherine stepped up to lead the global partnerships team at Intercom in late 2020. “I work with two distinct partner communities: firstly our app partners. We have 300 apps in the app store – which is up from 100 when we launched in 2018 – and today, 76% of Intercom customers use apps every single week. My team works most closely with partners who are co-selling and co-marketing with us, and who have joined our App Partner Program. These partners join our program to unlock revenue-driving opportunities and the ability to reach our 30,000 customers and more than 4 billion end users. We have strong cross-functional support from both our marketing and R&D teams.”
“Alongside our app partners, we also work with service partners — agencies, consultancies, systems integrators, and BPOs — who offer or run Intercom as part of their client services. These partners can sign up to join our Service Partner Program, where they can get enabled and certified on our solutions.”
“Our team is responsible for growing and nurturing the partner ecosystem across both of those groups. We’re focused on going deep with those partners to drive mutually valuable partnerships that also create an amazing experience for Intercom customers.”
This year, the Intercom partnerships team is ready to scale. “Our team has expanded and grown from a team of two to a team of five. We’re going to focus more in terms of partner acquisition now that we have a much better sense of what the ideal partner profile looks like, as well as continuing to build strong relationships with our existing partners.”
Catherine’s team is focused on generating revenue for Intercom. “Our KPIs are tied to revenue generated on both the new and existing businesses side — partner referrals, and partner influence on opportunities created through other channels. We always want to stay close with the sales team and deal cycle, in general, to offer up the expertise partners have — either in integrations or services.”
“Enablement is a big priority for us, and we want to ensure we can set our partners up for success. I’ve also seen strong indicators that the opportunities partners send our way are of a high quality when they’ve committed to becoming certified. And, at a broader level, we see a strong correlation between app usage and customer retention.”
Advice for Other Professionals in Partner Management
From first entering partnerships to now managing a team of Partner Managers herself, Catherine has honed a few pieces of advice for anyone looking to succeed in partnerships. “I would double down on relationship building and stakeholder management. Understand your core product and ecosystem – this will help determine how you should prioritize your time, and where you can make the most impact. And, building a strong external network is super important – I really appreciate being able to learn from other leaders in this space. The Partnership Leaders community has been an invaluable resource.”
Download the Partnerships Career Progression Playbook to get insights from professionals like Catherine on advancing a partnerships career. For even more advice and real-time insights from industry experts, apply to join Partnership Leaders.