It’s no secret that impact.com is bullish on partnerships. We work hard to educate the marketplace on their proven power to drive growth and how to make the most of them.
It’s not just window dressing either. Partnerships are an essential part of our business strategy and growth as a company. Listen in to this Partnered Podcast interview (or read the transcript below) with Impact’s Director of Channel Partnerships, Henry Prevette, for a look at how our own partnership channel operates.
It’s a top channel for us, too
Henry offers some great insights into how we approach our two main types of referral relationships: agencies and technology partners, and why they are often our most prolific channel in terms of driving new business. In fact, we find that leads that come via partners are far more likely to convert than others, because they are coming through a trusted third-party recommendation — which is the underlying mojo of partnerships.
Henry’s top five best practices for successful partnerships
You can imagine that Henry and his team are under the microscope when it comes to practicing what we preach as a company. In the interview, he dives into what he has learned over the years and offers up some best practices for his peers in partnership, such as:
- Have a good enablement and education process for your partners that helps them introduce new leads to your business in the right way
- Maintain a complimentary versus a competitive offering with your partners; for example, Impact creates a great opportunity for agencies to add value for their customers and monetize their services
- Prioritize your partners by measuring potential, not just history. Devote your time, effort, and reciprocal referrals to the partners with the greatest opportunity
- Align your incentives. Not every partner is looking for commissions, some want referrals back from you, so you need to be sure your team is making that happen
- Collaborate with sales and marketing so they know the value you and your partner relationships can provide to drive up their conversions, too
Feel free to have your own chat with an Impact partnership expert, aka a growth technologist, any time by reaching out to email@example.com.
Adam Michalski: Welcome back to The Partnered Podcast! Super excited to have Henry Prevette, Director of Channel Partnership Development at Impact, on the podcast today. And Henry, just to kick things off, can you tell us a little bit about your professional background and how you got started in partnerships?
Henry Prevette: Yeah, you bet. Thanks for having me, Adam. I really appreciate the opportunity. Yeah. I think like a lot of professionals in our space that work in partnerships. I didn’t plan on working in partnerships. So, I studied business and econ in college. My first couple of jobs out of college were actually in finance.
So I managed a payment processing center, you know, just doing finance types of things. Yeah. And then I ended up having a good friend and colleague ask me if I’d be interested in joining her team to work with agencies for Impact. And so, I, you know, I ended up taking the job for a number of different reasons, really transitioning to that, that kind of role, really having no clue what a marketing agency was.
And really my first six months in the job were just being customer success for agencies. What was kind of crazy, it was about six months after I’ve made that transition, my colleague that had brought me on ended up leaving. So, I was kind of stuck as the only person working with agencies at Impact.
So I’m kind of on trial by fire. That’s how I learned and got into the partnership ecosystem.
Adam Michalski: Very cool. Very cool. And for those who aren’t familiar, can you tell us a little bit about Impact and your role at impact?
Henry Prevette: Yeah, sure. Yeah, so my title is Director of Channel Partnership Development. And so my primary role is to manage a team that develops and grows, partnerships for Impact. So, what we would call channel partnerships, as well as partnerships within our platforms ecosystem. So, our platform, you know, our primary product is actually called The Partnership Cloud and it does exactly what it sounds like.
It powers partnerships between companies. And so, part of my, my team and my role role is to help create a more rich ecosystem of partnerships within the platform.
Adam Michalski: Got it. And I think this is interesting and pretty meta because you’re a partnership platform yourselves. You’re doing partnerships at a partnership platform.
So this is going to get interesting. And, I think what I’d love to learn a little bit more is like, how do you actually structure the partnership team at Impact?
Henry Prevette: Yeah. Yeah. It’s you’re right. It’s funny that I work within a partnership team at a partnership company. We have, I think pretty unique vantage point, on partnerships in general because that, I mean, I, you know, the cool thing is I get to interact and see literally hundreds of different types of partnership programs ranging from B2B software partner programs to B2C influencer and affiliate programs.
So it’s kind of the whole kitchen sink, if you will, as far as partnerships. And I think what that’s done, kind of getting to your question around structures, it’s because our product is focused on partnerships. It’s created this kind of intense accountability for our organization to make sure we’re eating our own dog food, drinking our own champagne as our CEO likes to say.
And so the company has done a pretty good job of investing in their own partnership channels and ecosystems, so that we make sure we’re like, you know, practicing what we preach as far as our org structure. We have about 20 people under the partnership team umbrella, and, you know, that’s, I’d say, from partnership organizations I’ve seen, that’s a fairly high percentage for a company of our size.
We have a Chief of Partnerships, which is pretty unique, but which we’re starting to see becoming more standard function within an executive team. And we’ve got, you know, from those 20 folks, we got about a quarter of the team dedicated to our agency channel, which is probably our, our most prolific channel today.
And about half of the, you know, half of that number is probably on technology partnerships. And then the other half of the 20 is really focused on curating and developing that partnership ecosystem for our customer. So, creating new partners, developing new partners on the platform.
Adam Michalski: Awesome. And I definitely would love to loop back around to that, the Chief Partnership Officer, cause that’s something that I think is going to become increasingly relevant moving forward.
But I guess one of the questions that I had is just regarding the differences between how you think about tech partnerships versus agency partnerships? It seems like you guys have a fairly strong influence on both, but how do you, how do you kind of, you know, think about the two more holistically?
Henry Prevette: Yeah. So, I think it always comes down to incentives. Agencies are more directly incentivized to be a consultant to a customer and a recommender, right? Often they’re being paid – a marketing agency is being paid by a brand to make recommendations about a technology solution. And so those agencies are typically gonna be your partnerships that are going to be best at sourcing opportunities.
You know, technology partnerships on the other hand are where we see their ability to influence a deal either directly by, you know, actually sending an email on your behalf or by just virtue of having an integration that’s strategic for a prospect. Technology partners are really critical and making the value prop of why a brand chooses your platform versus another really critical. So that’s kinda how we see technology partnerships varying, you know, different from agency partnerships.
Adam Michalski: Awesome. And going back to the Chief Partnership Officer, I guess like I’m genuinely curious, how does that role, or if you could just walk us through a little bit about how that role evolved at the company, and kind of like the roles and responsibilities as well as like how they interact with like the rest of the c-level team. I think that would be pretty interesting for our listeners as well as they might be thinking about, you know, a similar function at their organizations.
Henry Prevette: Yeah. So I think there were probably two core reasons to it. One was our own partnership team is a pretty powerful force within our organization.
As far as you know, we at certain times have been the channel partner team has been one of the largest single drivers of new business for the company. So that’s probably a reason, number one, is our company realizes not only is this a message that we’re out there preaching as far as the importance in the impact on the economy of partnership organizations, but it’s also directly impacted our business. So that’s gotta be from my perspective, of course, I’m not in the c-suite, but that’s gotta be a reason number one is, they saw that as a, as a, you know, a key area of the organization that they needed to invest in.
Our Chief of Partnerships was previously our general manager. So obviously he has been in the c-suite for a while and I think was really excited to take the role of a Chief of Partnership because it aligned with our company vision, but it’s also where we see the most opportunity for ourselves and growth.
Adam Michalski: Got it. That’s awesome. And for you, I mean, you mentioned a pretty awesome statistic there that you’re driving most of your business from your partnerships.
How do you go about actually thinking about, you know, that ROI more from like a tactical perspective, you know, like from an attribution and really making sure that you’re actually getting, you know, the credit that the partnership team deserves?
Henry Prevette: Yeah. So you nail on a topic that is sensitive for anybody in a partnership role, as you know well. And you know, in any given quarter the channel team, the partnership team, is driving between 25% and 40% of all new business, all new sales, and that’s from a lead source perspective. I’d say what we’ve done a really good job on, and what’s tactically important for anybody in a channel partner role, is ensuring that they actually communicate with their channel partners.
You gotta communicate why it’s important for a referral to be sent in a specific way. And you gotta have a really good way of tracking that, that aligns with your internal attribution system. So that’s a, that’s a big piece for us. As far as assisted revenue, I know a lot of different partnership teams have a key metric around assists, which interestingly enough, we actually don’t.
I think we’re hopefully working towards that as a KPI. But, you know, that’s not a metric that we’ve typically had a lot of value placed on it. It’s usually been lead sourced. So we find ourselves often, competing, if you will, with other acquisition teams like marketing and sales. But, yeah, hopefully that gives you some color on that.
Adam Michalski: Got it. Yeah. That’s awesome. And, are there any, like, you know, best practices or even like pitfalls, you know, to avoid? You kind of alluded towards one with like the, the channel conflict there, which I think a lot of folks, you know, experienced, but, like yeah, any best practices or kind of just pitfalls in general when it comes to kind of measuring the ROI here?
Henry Prevette: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, one of the big ones that I mentioned earlier is making sure you’ve got a good enablement process, education process for your partners and that they’re submitting leads, or introductions, the correct way.
I would say as far as best practices for the organization in general, like the ingredients, if you will, that have to be in place for us. A healthy partnership team is you’ve got to have a complimentary versus a competitive offering with your partners. So, if you think of agencies, the difference between a technology company that has a productive partnership ecosystem with agencies. And a one that doesn’t is, if, is if the technology platform is offering some kind of competitive service against what the agency is doing. If there is no competition between the two and it’s completely additive, completely, you know, complimentary that creates a lot of space for agencies to add value for their customers and to monetize their services.
That’s been a big part of our success has been internally evangelizing the need to always keep a separation of technology versus services and to find creative, new ways to allow agencies to provide more services on the platform. So replacing maybe native integration services with outsource integration services. Native management services, with, with agency management services.
So, that’s, that’s, that’s probably like a key ingredient, number one, Adam. I’d say another one is, is prioritization. You really got to learn how to prioritize the right partners. You gotta measure potential. You gotta, you gotta measure opportunity. And then you really need to make those hard decisions about which partners are going to give time, love and referrals to, and which ones your not.
I’d say the last, the last piece that really sticks out for me as far as best practices is on aligning incentives. There’s really two types of partnerships in my opinion. At least partnerships that care about an incentive. There’s partners that want to commission, and that might be the primary way to, they monetize their businesses by referring business. Think of affiliate marketing, or influencer marketing. Affiliates, influencers, right — they’re making money, they’re making a commission by referring business to another entity. And then there’s partners that are incentivized by referrals. They’re the reciprocal channel type. And so for that to be successful, you have to get your organization behind you, and have, have your sales and CS team understand why it’s important for them to identify opportunities to refer business out to your technology partner or your agency partner.
If you can get your sales and your CS team on board with helping identify opportunities for your channel partners, it’ll create a flywheel effect. And next thing you’ll know, as you’re sending business out, you’ll be getting more referrals back yet.
Adam Michalski: That’s awesome. And I mean, for the second point there on prioritization, I think, I mean, you have a pretty unique lens here, so I’d love to understand, how much of, you know, the prioritization and is an art versus a science, and kind of, how do you think about the prioritization of the different partnerships that you have?
Henry Prevette: That’s a great question. We always try to be as science oriented as possible. So we do start with the numbers. We start when, if you think of high potential on one axis, and high opportunity, or like historical performance on the other spectrum, you’re gonna want to do some analysis on what this partner has been producing on average every quarter? And do we feel like that’s being hampered by something, right? Is that affecting potential? I’d say the art piece of it is really understanding the potential, right?
You can, it’s easy to look at the historical numbers and get an idea of what the partnership has done before. But you got weighed, is there an alignment of incentives here? Does this partner actually care about our ability to, deliver our technology to their customers or deliver leads to them? Like what is actually driving their interests? Are they a lifestyle business? Are they looking to grow? Those kinds of things are more of an art form that you really have to learn and balance against kind of the more objective facts.
Adam Michalski: That’s a great point. Yeah, it’s really a combination of, like most things, you know, a combination of art and science, but it’s good that you guys are leaning on the science side as much as possible.
One of the questions that I have too was just regarding, you know, the overall sales process. How does it differ, you know, for that 25 to 40% of deals that you are getting, you know, through a partner or have like an assistant in some way, versus like a traditional sales process?
Henry Prevette: Yeah. Well, I would say just starting with the outcomes, and where we see, you know, a big difference in the value of a, having a channel partner in the, in the processes is — typically if it’s coming, if we have a lead that’s coming through, particularly as sourced by a partner, if not assisted, our conversion rates about four times higher than our other acquisition channels.
So, if that tells you anything, I think it should be that what’s different is you, the channel partner is your champion. If you think of like a champion in the sales process to close a deal, having a champion, that’s not in that organization, that’s not at the advert, you know, the ultimate buyers organization, but as from a third party, is really powerful. You’ve got an independent, you know, supposed to be at least unbiased, third party that’s recommending you. And so it’s really critical I think that, you know, the big caveat or change in the sales process is you got to have your sales team work closely with that partner.
And that can be a challenge sometimes, right? I’d say sales teams can be, shortsighted. They want to close that deal. And the challenge that channel partner teams have is we’re in it for the long term. We’re creating long-term partnerships. And so it’s really the channel partner or partner teams responsibility to ensure that they’re level setting with their sales reps and, and balancing short term gains with longterm partnership productivity.
Adam Michalski: That’s awesome. And obviously, I mean, when you’re talking about a 4X or, you know, 400% increase that has to be up there with one of the best acquisition sources for new business,
And one of the questions that I do have here is just how, how do you like more tactically go about tracking like that, that sourcing? Is that something that you do in Salesforce or, just how do you go about actually tracking the sourced opportunities?
Henry Prevette: Yeah. So going back to like, we see partnerships into too primary categories. There’s ones that, that care about a commission, maybe the, typically that’s the primary way that they make money.
And so, for those types of relationships, you know, we use our own technology. That’s where our that’s the space that our platform really plays in. If it’s a scale partnership program, where there’s going to be commissions, there’s going to be a referral agreement signed. And so we have the benefit of being able to use at cost, or for free, our own platform to power that. And it is integrated with Salesforce so that we are able to, you know, receive leads. And then at a certain point, be able to pay a partner either on the qualification of that opportunity or ultimately if the contract is signed. So I’d say a hybrid approach using both Salesforce and our partnership cloud product.
The second, for our channel partners, especially our technology partners is using a combination of Salesforce and Partnered.io. And what that’s helped us to do is manage the workflows with our sales and CS org right. One of the challenges I think. I brought it up a couple of times. One of the things you have to think about as a channel partner manager, is both evangelizing and liaisoning with yours sales and customer success departments. You got to get them behind you. You got to show him that they have ways to access you for intel and information. So we use Partnered.io for them to really surface requests that they have, where we can work with a tech partner or an agency partner, too, identify contact details, or actually connect them directly with a channel partner.
We use Salesforce for our primary dashboards. So we have dashboards for our different types of partners and tracking everything from, you know, referrals in, referrals out, everything in between as well.
Adam Michalski: That’s awesome and, when it comes to all of that tracking and the actual, like attribution component of that, are you running like all of the reporting in Salesforce? Or, like when it comes to actually, you know, just seeing who overall influenced those deals, how is that being done?
Henry Prevette: Yeah. So the benefit of so, right. Every, everybody knows you gotta have some kind of activity or campaign touchpoint or something if you use Salesforce as your, your revenue organization system of record. Nice thing for it with the Partnered.io tool that we’ve been able to use is that it automates, you know, a request comes in from Slack from our sales rep and, based on the status of where we are and helping with that request, they’ll log an activity in Salesforce. So that even if, even if our team’s not today directly being comped or compensated on assist, we’re at least starting the process of really measuring and tracking what impact different partners are having. And at what stage in the sales process, because that tool is automating that logging activity at different stages in that process.
Adam Michalski: That’s awesome. And for like, I mean obviously cause you’re seeing so much success coming from your partnerships, one of the questions that I had is just around like any other best practices that you’ve seen on educating the sales team on going to market with your partners?
You know, AEs or CSMs, they have a, you know, hundreds of different things that they can be doing on any given day. So the bandwidth is obviously a very difficult, you know, thing to kind of tap into. So have there been any other best practices that you’ve seen to kind of get them kickstart, you know, that flywheel of like, “Oh wow, I should be using partners more frequently” or, or “I could be using a partner to, you know, influence or assist this deal.”
Henry Prevette: Yeah. We’ve tried a few different things. I’d say the most basic thing we do is we’ve kind of committed ourselves to doing a quarterly internal road show where we meet with both our sales and our CS team and walk them through the why, like, why should you care about this? How do you get help from us? And ultimately what we can provide back.
And so, you know, just like a partnership with an external company, you’ve got to have a partnership with your sales team and there’s gotta be, you gotta have the right incentives in there. They got to know that their ability to help source opportunities for you that ultimately gets sent to your partner is going to directly impact your ability to bring them new business as well.
So you got to tie it back to, you know, why should I care at the end of the day?
Adam Michalski: That’s awesome. Yeah, no, I mean, obviously you’re doing a pretty good job at it with the top level metrics that you’re seeing. So I guess, you know, switching gears a little bit more, a more high level here, where do you see the future of, you know, like tech and agency partnerships moving in the future?
Henry Prevette: Yeah. So there’s, there’s really no doubt in my mind that that partnership teams are going to continue to be an elevated part of the organization. I think we’re going to see more Chief of Partnership types of titles. What we’re also going to see is a transition and a consolidation of different partnership teams.
If you think when, when we say the word partnerships, Adam, you and I both immediately start thinking like, “What are they talking about?” Like, what do these partnerships look like? Is it an affiliate? Is that what they’re talking to? Oh, talking about, is it like an agency or an SI type of partner?
I think what we’re going to continue to see is just like different functions of a sales org got behind Salesforce as a system of record. There’s going to be different functions of partnerships that are all eventually going to have to meet and intersect on one platform and one standard set of metrics, to manage those types of relationships. So I think that’s going to be a trend that we’re going to continue to see. Yeah. And I, you know, I think the, the way that some of the things that we’re doing to prepare our organization for that is that I think our team’s done a good job of being really proactive in, speaking about new types of partnerships that we want to go after as a team.
You know, we started with agencies and we were literally branded as the agency team at Impact for years. And then what we really pushed the envelope on is, “Hey, these integrations that we have. Like we should have business development conversations with them and turn them into productive partnerships for us.”
Oh. And there’s, there’s all these content partners, and, you know, industry, you know, partnership associations that we should be working with and actually working with on a partnership basis. So I think that there’s a lot of like, you know, a lot of it comes down to your own ability to evangelize and partner internally.
But it also requires that you got to go out and test and measure things. I don’t, I don’t think, you know, waiting around for your organization to a adopt a perspective or to really get creative with partnerships will really be the way that stuff happens. You gotta, you gotta kind of do it yourself, measure it, and then evangelize it for why you need to, you know, your organization needs to get behind you. And, and being more creative with the types of partnerships that are working with.
Adam Michalski: I love that. Yeah, and I mean, you make such a great point that, you know, partnerships can mean so many different things. And it means something different to, you know, you know, any individual that you speak to.
I do think, you know, to your point where we are going through kind of more of a transition now, kind of similar to sales back in the day where, you know, it’s becoming more of a science and they’re becoming more best practices. And we’re obviously still very early, you know, in terms of kind of that rollout probably right. Say the first inning, you know? But a lot of that is slowly coming to fruition.
And I think, you know, especially when you talk about just seeing like how much faster the deals are closing and you know, how much of the overall business that you can generate from partnerships, like it’s only going to be a net positive for the entire industry.
So, that’s awesome. And then I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. I guess the, the final question that I have for you would just be about, you know, for anybody who’s looking to partner with Impact, how would they go about doing so?
Henry Prevette: Yeah, no, I appreciate that. You can always hit me up on LinkedIn would love to talk – Henry Prevete at Impact.
And secondly, there’s a, a partner page, at Impact. If you go to our website, Impact.com, you’ll see a section for partners at the top, and there’s a couple of different options. If you’re an agency, a technology partner, or you want to actually be a partner in our platform in our ecosystem. So feel free to leverage one of those ways to get in contact with us as well.
Adam Michalski: That’s awesome. And Henry, thank you so much for taking the time today. I really appreciate it!
Henry Prevette: Likewise. Thanks Adam.