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How to Launch and Grow your Affiliate Program: Agency + PRM

AIM Interview: PartnerStack


Recently, we had the pleasure of talking to Nikita Zhitkevich from PartnerStack to discuss their Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform and the benefits of launching a program with both an agency and network on your side.

Ranked as the #1 in Partner Management Software by leading business software review site G2, which also named them one of the Top Products for Sales and Fastest Growing Products in its 2021 Best Software list, PartnerStack helps you create custom experiences for each of your partner channels, nurturing new partners into top-performers.

Today, PartnerStack supports some of the fastest-growing SaaS companies (many from our own AIM roster) in scaling their partner programs, with partners in the network driving over $120 million in annual revenue for programs on PartnerStack.

Read on to learn more about PartnerStack, what features are imperative for brands, and what PRM really means to them.

 

Q: Great to have you on the AIM Blog. Let’s get to know you a little better. Please tell us a bit about your role and love for affiliate marketing. What is PartnerStack’s quick history, and what makes this platform so special?

Great to be here! As the Director of Channel Partnerships and Alliances, I lead all partner programs at PartnerStack, an all-in-one PRM platform that ignites SaaS growth. 

My love for affiliate marketing stems from a variety of reasons, such as the fact that affiliate marketing has comprehensive integrations, provides a strong partner experience, and has multiple ways of attribution for others like links, leads, deals, and deep content. Plus, affiliate marketing in B2B is seeing a resurgence in product-led growth. It’s making it a lot easier for brands to work with affiliates to help drive them business and a lot of companies have self-service products that can generate revenue.

As for PartnerStack, it is the only partnerships platform built for SaaS and powers over 500 partner programs, including some of the world’s fastest-growing SaaS companies such as Asana, Intuit, Monday.com, and Unbounce. The platform provides a single tool that both program managers and their partners can use to onboard, manage, train, enable, support, and pay their affiliate, referral, reseller, and channel partners.

 

Q: What is PartnerStack’s proudest moment to date and why?

Just one proud moment?! That’s hard…how about our top five?

  1. Launching our own partner program on PartnerStack called the Certified Partner Program.
  2. Hiring a full channel team (6 team members and counting!)
  3. Raising $29 million USD in Series B funding to continue powering the future of partnerships.
  4. Achieving our SOC 2 Type 2 audit, making us compliant across all five trust services criteria. 
  5. Hitting 200 employees, all of whom are dedicated to helping companies acquire more customers and drive new revenue with partnerships

 

Q: During these past couple of years, dealing with all the challenges our world has been facing, how has PartnerStack changed the most?

Great question! We’ve grown our revenue by over 100% YoY and in turn, have tripled our employees in the last two years. We’ve also been able to develop so many new features like…

  • Co-Marketing Suite: With our co-marketing suite, you can automate the creation of co-marketing materials and give your partners what they need to help them sell.
  • Learning Management System: Utilizing our partner training feature, you can easily provide training content to your partners within their partner portal and help them drive revenue for you faster and more effectively.
  • Partner Portal Revamp: The cornerstone of a great partnerships program is your partner portal. Our revamp has made it easier for partners to withdraw rewards, switch between programs, and find resources.

 

Let’s dive into launching an affiliate program on a platform like PartnerStack and how an agency can help with the process.

 

Q: What do you look for when creating a successful partnership with agencies? How does this partnership help the launch of a program?

It really comes down to agency expertise and experience. We typically work with agencies that know Channel and Partnership well and understand the value it brings to their clients. Another key thing would be the types of clients they work with – do they work with B2B, B2C, or a combination of both? Once we’ve determined that there’s great synergy with the agency, we do a lot of collaboration and brainstorming to understand how we can assist new and existing clients when launching their program.

 

Q: How does PartnerStack find/share new partnership opportunities with vendors and agencies?

On the vendor side, we assign a Customer Success team member post-launch. They build a rapport with the vendor to understand where they can strengthen the program, gain new partners, and increase revenue. They’ll help promote their program by finding partners who sell and promote similar products (non-competitive) and discuss highlighting their company in our monthly newsletter.

On the agency side, we come across vendors who are new in the Partnership and Channel space — they sometimes don’t have a full understanding of how to properly and successfully run an affiliate program. They’ll come to us and ask if we work with agency partners that focus on growth and program management. We’ll then determine who would be the best fit for the vendor and their requirements.

 

Q: Who’s responsible for which part of the program set up when you’re working with a new vendor, who has an agency there to help?

We first discuss this with the vendor. Essentially, the vendor gives us the heads up on who would be involved in the onboarding process. We (PartnerStack) assign an onboarding team member to work closely with the vendor and/or agency (if they’ve been hired to run the program by the vendor) during their launch. We’ll handle a lot of the work to ensure the setup process runs smoothly.

 

Q: We see that you refer to the platform as a PRM which stands for Partner Relationship Management, how does this highlight the difference between PartnerStack and other platforms and networks?

PartnerStack’s motto is to ‘Change the way the world sells software’ and we pride ourselves on that. We recruit high-value partners into our partner network, building more opportunities for SaaS companies to discover each other, improve built-in payments and automation technologies, and scale-up go-market efforts — to give more SaaS companies the firepower they need to change the world. We want to be viewed as the top PRM in the industry and make PartnerStack a household name.

 

Q: That sounds exciting! When considering PartnerStack for their program’s network/platform, what features do you offer that you believe are imperative for brands to add to their affiliate program?

There are three key features that really stand out most when it comes to vendors choosing PartnerStack for their affiliate program: 

  1. Our Marketplace – We have over 65,000 active affiliate partners in our network that join programs on a daily basis and help drive 35% more revenue through Channel and Partnerships.
  2. Partner Payouts – We allow vendors to give full transparency to their partners when they’ve joined their program. It gives partners visibility on all opportunities that have been sent through, what’s pending for payments, and allows them to withdraw their reward(s) directly from their partner portal via Stripe or PayPal.
  3. Open API – We’ve white-labeled Workato to allow vendors to integrate their current tools and applications directly into PartnerStack. This allows them to have an omnichannel solution and centralized workflow that ties directly into their current systems.

 

Q: When it comes to tracking, what are the different options available to vendors setting up a program?

We have three different modules in PartnerStack that allow vendors to track any opportunities being sent by partners. These modules are: 

  • Partner Marketing – For URL tracking which is great for content syndicators and influencers looking to promote the vendor’s brand to their audience.
  • Partner Referral – For partners that have a 1:1 relationship with their client and would like to refer them over to the vendor. 
  • Partner Reseller – Expert partners championing the vendor’s solutions and will sell their product for them. 

 

Q: How long on average does it take to launch a new program set up in PartnerStack? And, once launched, how long on average does it take a new program to gain momentum and grow?

There are a couple of variables that come into play when it comes to launching a program with PartnerStack. The biggest task for both the vendor and our Onboarding team would be the back-end integration work. Are they looking to connect their CRM? Do they have other tools, such as Billing, that they’d like to integrate with PartnerStack? Do they have partners they work with already and a plan to migrate them into PartnerStack?

On average, we typically can get a vendor set up and fully launched in around 30-45 days.

 

Q: In the end, do you see a bigger benefit with an agency when launching a program on PartnerStack? If so, please explain.

Yes, having an agency involved during the process with the vendor adds significant value. It helps us align and refine the launch of their (vendors) program smoothly with minimal objection. It also increases in value for the vendor knowing that they’ve got experienced help not only from PartnerStack but also from an agency level.

 

Q: Finally, what advice would you give to a brand looking to launch a new program?

I would say there are three important things to consider when launching a new program:

  1. Maintain leadership alignment – It is important to make sure there is buy-in and that leaders understand the value of launching a program. 
  2. Make sure to tie everything back to revenue – Ensure that all leads are qualified and converted and report on closed-won sales.
  3. Build strong collateral and engagement for your partners – This allows them to understand what motivates them and enables them to be successful. This one particularly is where an agency can really help.

With these three considerations in mind, you can pave the way for a successful program launch. Just remember to always resource behind a partnerships program, whether that’s through hiring, outsourcing to an agency, or both. Partner programs require people to power them.

 

We hope this interview has provided some insights into what you can expect when launching your program on a network/platform with the help of an agency. If you’re interested in learning more about PartnerStack, you can book a demo today. Also, don’t forget to talk to an expert at AIM for more insight and amazing partnership opportunities.


Ashley brings over 20 years of customer service experience, with 10+ years of social media and content marketing experience to the table. Genuine care and understanding of the client/consumer have shown to be a great asset for building brand and affiliate partnerships.

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