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Who grows revenue faster—companies with well-developed partnership programs or companies that stay traditional in their approach? Seems like a no-brainer, but we wanted independent research to bear out what our clients experience firsthand. Impact commissioned Forrester Consulting* to find out. They surveyed decision-makers and practitioners responsible for partnership programs at 454 companies in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific to better understand what separates the best from the rest.

The important role mature partnerships play in revenue growth 

One output of the research was a partnership “maturity framework” that organized the drivers of partnership growth into four key themes: people, process, technology, and breadth (in terms of partnership models and number of partners). 

Each respondent was then assigned a maturity score based on their responses to survey questions adjusted for factors like size and region. The results revealed some important insights: 

  • Mature partnership programs yield better business outcomes. Most high-maturity companies exceed stakeholder expectations not only on revenue growth, but also on other key business metrics like stock price, bottom-line profitability, and the growth of their partnership programs. 
  • Companies with high maturity get more of their overall revenue from partnerships. Partnerships contribute an average of 28% of overall company revenue for high-maturity companies, while low-maturity companies receive about 18% of their revenue from partnerships. The average annual income of companies surveyed was $1.55B, which means there is an annual difference of $162M.
  • Companies with mature partnership programs grow revenue nearly 2X faster than others. Partnership channel revenue growth rates for high-maturity companies outpace low-maturity companies by more than double. 

Automation is key

High-maturity companies get the most from their partnership programs, but not without investment. Building best-in-class partnership programs requires companies to think outside the box to attract and retain a diverse portfolio of partners, and it requires investments in technologies to support the partner lifecycle. In fact, 62% of companies surveyed believe implementing technology to optimize partnership management will be high priority or critical to drive success as part of a mature program over the next 12 months.

High maturity versus low maturity—the priorities

The partnership maturity leaders have distinct priorities from medium- or low-level maturity. Not surprisingly, low-maturity companies are focused on getting the basics right—they see improving partner onboarding and setting up metrics as top priorities. 

Average maturity companies are more focused on optimizing what they already have in place, including cleaning up fraud and squeezing more revenue from individual partners. 

Meanwhile, high-maturity companies are focused on scaling their processes through technology investments and scaling their success by pursuing new types of partnerships.

Learn more about investing in partnerships to drive growth and competitive advantage — access the full research study.

*Invest in Partnerships to Drive Growth and Competitive Advantage, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Impact Tech, May 2019

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