The Ultimate KPI Smackdown: Partner-Sourced vs. Partner-Attached

The Ultimate KPI Smackdown: Partner-Sourced vs. Partner-Attached

Multiple Contributors 7 min

There has always been an internal fight on how to measure and attribute partner performance. 


Partner leaders often prioritize partner-sourced revenue as the ultimate KPI, but thanks to the nearbound movement, one additional metric—partner-attached/partner-influenced—has gained popularity, sparking industry-wide debates. 


Some people believe that partner-sourced is the best way to attribute partner impact, but how are you supposed to have partner results if you don’t involve partners in all aspects of your GTM motion? 


So, to define once and for all which is the ultimate partner KPI, Jared Fuller recently sat down during a Nearbound at Work session with Aaron McGarry, Executive Vice President and Chief Ecosystem Officer at Qualtrics, Sunir Shah, CEO of AppBind, and Catie Moynihan, Senior App Manager at HubSpot. 


After Aaron McGarry stated that partner attach is the metric that matters the most, Catie Moynihan encouraged us to think about how to tell the story of how partner metrics are impacting business goals. 


Sunir Shah also mentioned that the partner metric that matters most is “hearts won”—the measurement of other companies’ love for you and their willingness to collaborate to win together. 


In the end, Jared Fuller, declared partner attach as the champion of this partnership rumble by majority decision. 


Now that the top GTM leaders have determined that partner attach is the ultimate partnership KPI, let’s get into the weeds of why this is a crucial metric to measure and attribute partner success. 

What does partner attach really mean? 

Partner attach it’s not a one-size-fits-metric. Its meaning might depend on the type of company you’re in, your role, and/or your company’s goals. 


In the context of this debate, this is what partner attach means for our GTM leaders: 



Many people think that partner attach is only when a partner influenced a deal, but this is just a limited version that doesn’t take into consideration all the previous steps of the sales cycle. 


And as Allan Adler once mentioned, partner attach can include one or more of the following activities: 

  1. BD: Joint opportunity selection and targeting.

  2. Solutions: Creation of shared use cases.

  3. Influence: Shared positioning, messaging, and value stories.

  4. Pilot Customers: Initially shared customer sell-through and sell-with.

  5. Scale Customers: Sell-through and sell-with at scale.

  6. Customer Success: Joint customer upsell/cross-sell.

Partner attach is easy to scale. It’s a management metric that orchestrates the impact if you’re the partner leader, inside of your business and across your teams. 


And as Aaron McGarry said, it’s a team effort metric. It reflects if you’re effectively working with partners across your company. 


Partner attach is the leading KPI, but that doesn’t mean this is the only metric you need to track to measure partner success. 




Consider partner attach as your top-of-pyramid KPI. Under it, you might find partner sourced, deal size, number of deal wins, close rate, etc. 


The more partners you attach to your GTM motion, the more partner-sourced revenue you’ll drive due to larger deals and shorter sales cycles.


Partner attach influences many metrics, that’s why it’s one of the most important metrics you need to measure. 



In other words, partner attachment equals introducing a potential customer to a partner, and proactively action to generate motion, and reward partners. 


Partner attach is how you make your partner team as efficient as possible and have them focused on getting partners and driving impact with your customers. 


This metric helps you answer the $1B dollar question:


How is nearbound impacting our business?

Why should you focus on partner attached as one of your main KPIs?


We know that we’re not going to convince CROs or any other C-suite member by just throwing partner attach definitions, so don’t take these benefits from us, but from those GTM leaders that have achieved the promised land by tracking partner attach. 


Here’s why Aaron McGarry and Catie Moynihan are focusing on partner attach: 

Partner attach can scale the two-sided motion that partnerships are trying to achieve. 

When you only care about sourcing revenue, the best KPI for you is partner source. You just need to consider that for each deal you source from your partners, you have to source at least one for them. However, how can you make this right at scale? 


Being reciprocal is easier when you when you attach partners to your GTM strategy. The key is to leverage your partners as a source of trust, intel, and influence, not only as a revenue machine. 



Partner attach can be viewed from different GTM perspectives. 

The beauty of partner-attached revenue is that this metric can adapt to each GTM team. Let’s take success as an example. This team is not focused on driving net new revenue, but on retention and CSAT. 


Partner attach might not be the only metric they are focusing on, but it shows them why the customer satisfaction rate is high or low.  


The best way to create customer delight is through partnerships, they help you reduce your product gap and deliver a holistic experience (product and services). Your customers are happy when they have an integrated solution that tackles their day-to-day challenges, which leads to a retained customer base. 


Partner source has become an eternal attribution fight. 

Deals don’t grow on trees. Closing deals involves the participation of the whole GTM team. And if you’re only focusing on sourcing the deal, how do you know who sourced that deal?


Driving revenue is a team sport. If you want to drive more revenue you have to attach a partner in your GTM motions. This will not only lead to closing deals faster, and having larger deals, but a better attribution process. 



Just picture this: You’re losing opportunities when you don’t bring partners across your teams and programs. 


For example in HubSpot, they are implementing an “infinite winning cycle”. 


Where their agency partners are selling more HubSpot, they are more likely to involve tech partners in their tech stacks for their customers, customers are winning because they have a great solution partner, and HubSpot is winning because this cycle drives retention and satisfaction. 


Everybody wins. 


Not everything is rosy. 

Partner attach is a great metric to track your nearbound revenue and success. However, Sunir Shah has a couple of points you need to consider while building your strategy around partner-attached revenue: 


Partner attach is a co-value metric. 

The problem with having partner attach as your core metric is that you’re not delivering enough value. 


So, when it comes to budget, it will go to those who can generate predictable revenue, not to the team that is co-generating credit. When CROs evaluate team performance, their primary objective is to ensure that their teams can autonomously provide value, without reliance on external teams.


We all know that attaching a partner to the customer journey gives you an idea of how your customers relate and interact with your partners, but this is hard to track across your company. 



Partner attach is competing with other revenue metrics. 

The Partnership team should be creating real value for the company in the market by connecting partners with customer needs and market trends. Simply being "partner attached" doesn’t reflect this. Partner attach is a metric that competes with your Revenue team. 


What your partners should do is support the core revenue, not compete with it.



How to get your internal teams enabled? 

It’s true, you’re not going to magically convince your teams to start tracking partner attach. You might need a couple of enablement sessions to make them care, engage, and recommend partners during their conversations. 


To do so, you need to speak each team’s language. 


If you want your Sales team to track partner attach, go to them and tell them this metric is going to increase their number of leads, opportunities, and deals won. 


Here’s what HubSpot is doing to tackle this: 



Ready to prove the impact of your nearbound strategy? 

Join Aaron McGarry and 60+ other speakers on November 6th-9th at The Nearbound Summit, the biggest virtual B2B GTM event out there. Register here




Multiple Contributors 7 min

The Ultimate KPI Smackdown: Partner-Sourced vs. Partner-Attached

Traditional KPIs favored partner-sourced revenue, but the nearbound movement highlights the significance of partner-attached/partner-influenced metrics. Unlock success with partner attach.

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