Top Metrics to Track When Evaluating Your Partner Program’s Success

Top Metrics to Track When Evaluating Your Partner Program’s Success

Discover the metrics you should — and shouldn't — track for your partner program in this guest article from Kelly Sarabyn.

Setting up the right north star metrics for a partner program ensures organizational alignment and continued growth. The wrong metrics can lead to misaligned priorities, internal turf wars, and a team that is KPI’ed on activities that drive little value.

Partner programs can drive value at every stage of the revenue funnel, from awareness to retention and brand loyalty. The particular metrics one adopts will depend partly on organizational goals and resources. 

For example, an organization struggling with retention might make retention the most important metric for technology partnerships and solution partnerships, while an organization that has excellent retention may focus more on generating new leads.

Organizational strategic goals should lead to investing further in particular types of partnerships and identifying the north star metrics for those partnerships. Starting with a clear understanding of organizational strategic goals can also ensure internal alignment and C-suite buy-in. 

Partner Program Primary Metrics

partnerships metrics

Primary metrics are the north star metrics that guide the focus of the partner team. Different partner teams (channel, tech, or affiliate, for example) may be more indexed to different primary metrics. 

Net New Revenue

Net new revenue can come from a variety of sources. Value-added reseller and OEM partners may find, close and manage deals that result in new customers. These partners may also upsell and cross-sell the software to current customers.

When the price of software is low enough, affiliate partners may send leads to a checkout page where the customer self-serves to purchase the software.

Software may be listed in partners’ integration marketplaces, where customers either purchase the software directly through the partner’s marketplace or follow the link from the marketplace to purchase it. 

Conversely, an organization may receive a revenue cut from referrals or leads sent to partners. A SaaS company may have their own integration marketplace in which they take a revenue share when their customers or (in the case of a public marketplace, prospects) discover a partner product that they then purchase.

Some companies also monetize their integrations, either as an “add-on” or, more commonly, as an incentive to upgrade to a higher paid plan. Attributing this upgrade can be a challenge, but having an “Upgrade” button next to integrations on higher paid plans or having CS identify reasons for upgraded plans can help.

Partner Sourced Revenue

Partner sourced revenue are deals that originate from a partner, but require marketing and/or sales to close. Nearly any type of partner can source potential accounts, but it will usually be an agency, tech, or brand partner. 

Partner sourced revenue can be broken down into partner sourced leads and partner sourced deals. A partner-sourced deal is one that was a referral directly to sales and was a qualified opportunity. 

Partner sourced leads are new leads that came from a partner via an affiliate link, integration marketplace, or marketing activity or event. These leads need to be followed up on to be converted to an MQL or SQL and proceed to a sales conversation.     

Retention 

Technology partners can increase customer retention by 10-40% depending on integration usage level and how sophisticated the integration is. Successfully tracking this impact requires tracking integration usage and comparing cohorts of customers for retention and satisfaction.

Value-added resellers, managed service providers, OEM, system integrators and solutions partners can also all increase retention. Tracking this requires identifying cohorts of customers who utilized these partners to implement or maintain the software and those who did not, and then comparing retention rates. 

When professional services or CS teams are strapped for resources, SI and solution partners can increase retention by ensuring all customers receive enough assistance in deploying and using the software. Value-added resellers may enhance the benefit realized by the software for the customer, and thus lead to them continuing to use it longer.

Low retention rates on customers working with service or solution partners or who are using a key integration can also flag a need to reevaluate those partnerships and the partner profile.       

Partner Influenced Revenue

Partner influence is when a partner exercises influence that impacts a deal. Organizations identify different types of influence and try to assess the value of that influence in a multi-attribution model.

This influence can be exercised via marketing or sales. In marketing, it might be an account already in the sales process watching a webinar on the integration, downloading a white paper, or seeing the brand recommended by the partner or featured in their integration marketplace.

In sales, it might be an intro to a key decision-maker that wasn’t currently involved, providing valuable intel on the account’s pain points or motivations, or providing a reference.

Secondary Partner Program Metrics

partnerships metrics

Secondary metrics do not directly benefit an organization’s bottom line but help a partner program to achieve primary metrics. They also give further insight into whether primary metrics that are not completely measurable (like partner influence) are being achieved.

Partner Engagement and Satisfaction

Engaged and satisfied partners can lead to better outcomes across the board. Regularly assessing how engaged partners are and how satisfied they were with the partnership can lead to improvements in partner UX, partner qualifications, and resource allocation.

Customer Partner Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction with partners can indicate that partners hold influence over customer decisions and that they are more likely to have a positive impact on retention. For technology partners, this can focus on satisfaction with the integration, while channel partners can focus on satisfaction with the added services and, if relevant, the sales process.

Customer Satisfaction

Tracking whether customers who are engaged with partners are more satisfied than those who are not engaged with partners can indicate whether partners are increasing brand loyalty.

Integration Adoption and Impact on Product Usage

Tracking which and how much customers are using integrations can signal customers find value in tech partnerships. Identifying if high integration usage is leading to higher product usage can also indicate tech partnerships result in a better product UX and customers who will be stickier and more loyal.

Partner Driven MQLs and SQLs

Driving more MQLs and SQLs can help to refine the business model, partner profile, and partner engagement. In addition, for co-marketing or affiliate partners in midmarket or enterprise B2B SaaS, MQLs and SQLs are often their primary goals. 

Qualified Inbound Partner Requests

Scaling a partner program requires healthy inbound requests from potential partners. Setting a metric of increasing qualified inbound requests can encourage better to-partner marketing and collateral.

Partnerships Launched from Qualified Inbound

Metrics on partnerships launched from qualified inbound requests can ensure that the partner qualification and onboarding process is successful.

Qualified Meetings or Partnerships Set from Partner Outbound       

If a program is still doing significant outbound to partners, metric on qualified meetings set. To be useful, “qualified” needs to be well-defined. For programs that are no longer engaging in much outbound, a metric of partnerships launched from outbound may still be relevant. 

Vanity Metrics to Avoid

In addition to primary and secondary metrics, there are vanity metrics that should be avoided for partner programs. These metrics encourage activity that may add little value to the organization.

Meetings Held with Potential Partners or Partnerships Launched

Metrics of meetings held with potential partners or partnerships launched are not valuable. These metrics encourage partner managers to set up a bunch of meetings or sign partnerships with partners that do not necessarily drive real revenue. Focus on qualified meetings or results instead.

Website Traffic Driven by Partners

Driving irrelevant traffic to the website adds little value to an organization. If the marketing team is using a tool like Clearbit Reveal, they may be able to assess the quality of the traffic coming from affiliate links and partner marketing even before the traffic converts. Quality traffic can be added as another secondary metric.

Volume of Marketing Activities or Referrals

Engaging in co-marketing or referral partnerships without an eye to efficacy or results can result in a lot of wasted and misdirected efforts. Even when it comes to raising brand awareness, there are better ways to ensure that co-marketing campaigns are driving tangible results.

Improve Your Partner Program’s Success

Ultimately, primary and secondary metrics for a partner program will depend heavily on an organization’s strategic goals and resources. Adopting the right program metrics that align with those strategic goals can ensure internal buy-in, drive better and more tangible results, and lay the groundwork for a successful partner program.   

This is a guest article written by Kelly Sarabyn of Pandium. Pandium is an integration marketplace as a service that enables B2B SaaS companies to drive more revenue from their technology partnerships.

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