A company simply called Impact wants to do for developing and managing enterprise partner relationships what Salesforce did for sales teams and Marketo did for marketing teams, according to its CEO.
Speaking at its second annual Impact Growth summit in New York on Tuesday, Impact’s David Yovanno argued that referrals from influencers, publishers or even native software integrations can drive greater business than simply hiring more sales people or buying more ads. He predicted the rise of a “partnership economy,” where Impact would use is suite of tools to help discover, recruit, onboard and engage an ecosystem of partners.
“We’re starting to see partnership teams form . . . maybe to the point where we’ll start to see a chief partnerships officer role,” Yovanno told the crowd. “Just like where you have territory assignments for sales or ABM goals for marketing, they’re dealing with pipeline management, deal structure, and sharpening their negotiation skills of how to put these deals together.”
Some of the more out-of-the-box examples Yovanno offered included AirBNB, which has formed a B2B partnership where customers of Quantas Airlines can book accommodation at the same time they book their flight.
Even if an organization doesn’t have a dedicated partnerships leader today, he suggested they identify someone to champion it based on the opportunity it represents.
“It has to report into senior level,” Yovanno told B2B News Network in an interview at Impact Growth, adding that the idea is not to compete with sales and marketing but be additive to a firm’s growth. “There is the CRO, who has that over-arching leadership of marketing, sales, biz dev. Thats the place (to put the role). Or perhaps a chief operating officer. It’s not a CMO or head of sales by its classic definition.”
To underscore the importance of partnerships, Impact Growth coincided with the release of research from Forrester Consulting that showed companies with mature partnership programs grow company revenue nearly twice as fast as other companies and are five times more likely to exceed stock price and bottom-line profitability.
“As we go through this next decade, what happened to sales and marketing (tools) will happen to partnerships (tools),” he said, noting that along with the technology tends to come an increased recognition of the importance of a particular area. “The CMO or VP marketing is now in the same boardroom as the rest of the leadership team. What we don’t have yet is the channel chief who is going to enter that room with that same precision and science.”
Yovanno said Impact is using the research and its summit to help position the firm as a thought leader in the partnership space, but he also said the wider industry was changing as a result. While Impact has contracts directly with enterprise brands, for instance, he said agencies are starting to catch up by developing expertise around partnerships and establishing new engagement models based on retainer fees or commissions for various kinds of work.
This is similar to Impact’s own evolution over the past 11 years, he said, to offer a more integrated way to manage partnerships. The company’s Impact Partnership Cloud, for instance, now includes tools such as Radius to set up contracts and manage payments, prevent fraud through Forensiq and Altitude, which helps organizations determine the value they’re getting from partnerships.
“It’s existed in pockets, but it’s now being consolidated into a unified platform to understand what (partnerships are) bringing to the business,” he said.
Yovanno said Impact is set to process more than $2 billion in payments to partners on behalf of its more than 1,000 enterprise brands, which include Microsoft, HotWire and Lenovo.