Sunday Stories: A Second-Person Adventure from the Future

You Wake Up

There are no sales people.

Nobody spends their day chasing leads or cold-emailing prospects directly. Nobody wants to. Why would they?

Your company has a mix of specialized and cross-functional employees. There is a vast ecosystem of people and companies outside of your own that work with you to distribute products. They operate in an interconnected web where collaboration is the key.

Some employees hold quotas like the salespeople of old, but they hit their number together with partners. They are consultative and curious. The old Glengarry Glen Ross approach is dead. Those who won in that world had to adapt or stall out in their careers.

Marketing doesn’t look the same either.

There isn’t a linear funnel. Ad impressions don’t become site visitors who become leads. Nobody wants to discover products that way. Why would they?

Marketers work beyond the boundaries of a funnel and beyond the walls of your company, partnering with complimentary companies and influential individuals who live in the same communities as your customers. The old days of buying leads and influence are dead. It has to be built with and around nodes of trust.

The era of ecosystems already happened.

In the earliest days of the era, Giants like HubSpot, Stripe, and SalesForce won because they scaled through and invested in ecosystems. Those who didn’t failed to keep up.

Next came the decade of democratized distribution.

Their mandate will be growth, and they will account for 50%+ of a company’s revenue – PartnerStack prophecy from the early 2020s

A new leader has emerged.

They go by many titles. Chief Ecosystem Officer, Channel Chief, Partner Chief. They reside in the C-Suite, report directly to the CEO, and have board-level visibility. They are responsible for all indirect revenue.

They are part sales leader, part marketing leader, and part technical leader. In a world where technology handles most specialized tasks, the uniquely human attributes belonging to the creative jack-of-all-trades are highly prized. Those with a penchant for partnerships are leading, founding, and funding the best companies.

There aren’t many aspects of business that are defensible anymore – Warning from PartnerStack, circa 2022

In the early 2020s, things changed.

Marketing became too costly. Sales training and retention became unrealistic.

Everything became indirect. The remote-work explosion that began in 2020 accelerated the shift.

It’s always been true that wealth increases by specialization and the division of labor. It took the SaaS world a while to get there, but now, all the best companies know they must tap into those outside of their company who do marketing, sales, community, and service the best while they focus on their core value proposition.

Companies are more specialized, while those leading have to be more generalized to coordinate the dynamic web of partners. Everyone is free to do what they do best.

Some saw it, called it, and prepared for it. They shifted focus to partnerships and won.

Good Partner Leaders Started to Think Beyond Integrations

Partnerships existed before the decade of democratized distribution, but they were overly narrow. Companies were forced to expand their definition of what it meant to partner.

This is so much more than technology integration partnerships. If your version of partnerships is figuring out how to integrate with another piece of tech — your limited perspective is holding you back from many business opportunities and possibilities.  – PartnerStack, preaching in 2022

Partner leaders now think about all of their indirect channels, how they work together, add value to one another, and how to orchestrate these channels in a way where they have a proper ecosystem strategy in place, not just a tech integration strategy.

Your Currency is Trust

You don’t trade leads, you build trust. It’s a medium of exchange and a form of capital.

Or maybe it’s like a language. You’re fluent in it. You have to be.

You understand that influence, community, and ecosystem are the decentralized orders that bring value to customers and  back to the business. Your job is to keep it healthy, flowing, and growing in a way that creates mutual, compounding value.

Believe it or not, this stuff was once considered a bunch of fluffy sounding gobbledygook. People assumed ecological metaphors were just the latest business buzzwords peddled by hype men and podcasters. They were wrong.

You understand that it’s merely a description of how the world works and a frame for understanding how to win in your role.

Your Market is Global - No Matter Your Size

Geography has dissolved. You don’t think in small territories. You have access to all markets through the power of your partner ecosystem.

Your sales force is the world. Geographic decisions are strategic, not based on accessibility limitations. Your SaaS-slinging predecessors couldn’t have imagined this, but it’s everyday reality for you.

Size doesn’t matter either.

You can reach any buyer, anywhere. In the old days, smaller companies like yours couldn’t. It was all about massive scale, which came with massive capital requirements and overhead. Lean startups were limited startups. Now, everyone has access to the greatest distribution networks in the world thanks to platforms like PartnerStack, which powers the partner symphony you conduct daily.

Don’t Call it a PRM

You might get in trouble using old acronyms like that. The stack you wield to manage and grow your ecosystem is much more robust than the first generation of partner tech platforms.

You login to PartnerStack every morning. Every partner type is at your fingertips. Every tool - from finding new partners to enabling them to automating processes to payouts - is at your command.

PartnerStack serves as your ecosystem control tower, where you see and accelerate the distribution of your products across the globe through nodes of trust. You scan the data, look for opportunities, make connections, deepen relationships, and create new partner types on the fly.

Once upon a time, you would’ve been called a wizard.

How’d You Get Here?

The PartnerStack platform that ushered in this era started as a refer a friend button on Shopify.

Actually, backup.

It started as a nonprofit task management tool that didn’t work. But the innovative process of selling that software - born out of necessity because the company couldn’t afford a sales team - worked like magic.

The timing was right. The era of ecosystems was already dominant, but the decade of democratized distribution was just beginning. Four founders saw the power of partner-led growth and made a pivotal decision. They scrapped the task management tool and went all-in on a partnership platform.

They stumbled through over 500 interviews with SaaS companies to learn and understand their distribution woes and the best way to connect them to and help them manage the global sales force just waiting to partner. That’s how PartnerStack was born. The platform that powers your high-efficiency, super-connected world.

That was the solidification of the shift.

The way the world buys and sells software changed forever.

There’s no going back.

Ecosystems are too robust, too interdependent, too dynamic, and too effective.

You roll up your sleeves. The only place to go is up, and that’s exactly where you’re headed.

Live in the Future of Partnerships Now

We are proud to partner with PartnerStack and offer PartnerHacker subscribers access to their suite of wizardry at a 15% discount. Time to level up your game.

Start writing your own future today.

You've successfully subscribed to PartnerHacker
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Error! Could not sign up. invalid link.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Error! Could not sign in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.