Survey Points To Partner Ops Managers As Critical Channel Program Drivers

The somewhat under-the-radar role of partner operations manager can have a significant impact on the performance of a company’s channel ecosystem program. According to a new report, The State of Partner Ops and Programs 2022, companies that invest in partner ops staff have stronger ecosystems that drive more revenue and better retain customers.

Those with larger partner ops teams are more able to successfully leverage partnerships to drive business outcomes. They are more likely to have a partner program with a programmatic allocation of resources, have more partner types, buy partner technology, and rank partnerships as more important to the future of their organization.

These findings and several other insights into channel ecosystems, were the result of a survey by HubSpot, the customer relationship management platform provider, Canalys, an independent analyst company, and Partnership Leaders, a community for partnerships and alliance leaders. The 2022 The State of Partner Ops and Programs was based on responses from more than 650 partner professionals and executives.

Partner Ops Managers Increasingly Common

According to the report, almost 60% of the companies represented reported having at least one employee working full time on partner operations. The report’s authors said the survey indicates that organizations with more mature partner ops teams drive more revenue from partners, engage a broader mix of partner types, and better design their partner programs.  Organizations with more mature partner ops teams are more likely to implement an “ecosystem” model of partnerships, and not surprisingly, rank partnerships as more important to the future of their organization.

The consequences of having a less mature partner ops program were higher turnover of channel team employees and partners too. Companies with weaker partner ops programs complained of onboarding fewer partners. Respondents also said immature partner ops teams missed go-to-market opportunities and were unable to track the full ROI of their channel program. But those were complaints at companies with mature partner ops program too,

Inexperience, Internal Misalignment Plague Programs

The primary challenges that partner ops programs face at companies are a lack of internal expertise on partner operations, even at a senior level. Poor internal alignment further complicates moving data in and out of multiple departments’ systems, including marketing, sales, and customer success. Executive buy-in was the third most cited blocker, resulting in insufficient allocation of budget and headcount to support programs.

In addition to insights about partner operations programs, the comprehensive survey of 664 people familiar with the partnership or channel function at their organization offers a deep discovery into many aspects of channel initiatives.

Respondents were asked to rank the importance of achieving improvements in a variety of channel program goals. The survey examined which channel program tools and technologies respondents are using, the value they provide, and where investments should be made. The report also looked at which business leaders channel teams report to and the metrics used to measure their success.

Additionally, the comprehensive report includes contributions from executives at leading partner ecosystems, including Jeff Reekers, CMO at Aircall, Chris O’Neill, Chief Growth Officer at Xero, John Kosturos, Head of Channels and Alliances at ZoomInfo, and Connie Wu, Head of Business Development at Asana, who share their insights on the current state of partner ecosystems and share advice on how to build a scalable partner program.

More information is available in the report.