Deeper Dives

PRM, ISVs: Partnerships Terms You Keep Hearing and What They Mean

So you can stop Googling during your meetings.

Whether you’re a seasoned channel manager or completely green to the B2B SaaS world, the abundance of insider terms and abbreviations in the partnership space can be hard to keep track of. Every industry has its own jargon, but technology buzzwords can be particularly overwhelming for the average layperson to learn. PRM, ISV, SI… There’s a laundry list of partnerships-specific jargon you’ll encounter in the industry, and it’s important to speak the language. To help speed up the learning curve, we’ve rounded up some of the most highly searched terms related to channel partnerships because, well, we know you’re sneakily researching them during meetings. Bookmark this glossary so you can speak to these important partnership terms with confidence.

B2B (business to business)

B2B is a business model where a company sells their product or service directly to other companies rather than individual consumers. Some examples of B2B companies include Salesforce, Slack, and, of course, PartnerStack. 

B2C (business to consumer)

Conversely, B2C is a business model where a company sells their product or service directly to an end-user. 

Channel partner

A channel partner is a company that partners with a vendor through a channel partnership program to sell its service or product through co-marketing efforts. These marketing efforts can include reseller programs, traditional retail, wholesale, distributors, and brokerages. 

ICT (information and communications technology)

Information and communications technology is the broad term that refers to the umbrella of fields that use digital and physical resources for the communication of information. 

ISV (independent software vendor)

Simply put, an independent software vendor is a technology company that makes and sells cloud-based product software or computer operating systems. As opposed to IT companies selling physical hardware, an ISV sells their product without the need for any special hardware, most often through a cloud-based subscription service. An ISV can be sold directly to consumers (B2C) or to other businesses (B2B). 

See more: Our picks for 2022’s best B2B software on the market.

two hands cradling the term b2b

KPI (key performance indicators)

Key performance indicators are a set of metrics used to track performance and growth. Each industry will have its own unique KPIs based on its goals. In the case of partnership programs, the most commonly used KPIs are activation rates, partner-sourced revenue, and average deal size. 

Marketing partner

A specific type of channel partner, the marketing partner is a company, or more often, an individual that partners with a vendor to drive traffic through affiliate links that earn them a cut of profits on any traffic converted. This is also known as an affiliate partner

MDF (market development funds)

Market development funds are used to incentivize channel partners to provide training or marketing that in turn will drive growth in sales. These funds go beyond just marketing efforts and can include funding for items like trade shows, email marketing campaigns, out-of-home marketing, conferences, and more. 

MSP (managed service provider)

A managed service provider is a third-party company that provides services that help run business infrastructure. Essentially, they provide B2B services that help other companies fill in the gaps in their operations, usually in exchange for a recurring membership fee.

Partner ecosystem

A partner ecosystem is when a group of businesses with like-minded audiences form a network for collaborative marketing and selling efforts. A partnership ecosystem is mutually beneficial for the businesses as they serve similar audiences but are not direct competitors. Ecosystems go beyond integrations and selling relationships; they speak to the relationships and mutual trust that can be formed within partnership networks.

In B2B SaaS, partner ecosystems can be made up of companies that provide complementary services like CRM software, accounting software, and DXP software that can be marketed to the same sales clients. Any network of businesses that serve different needs for the same audience can be complementary in an ecosystem. 

Related: Busting the most common myths about affiliate marketing.

two hands cradling the term b2b

Partner portal

A channel partner portal is the online cloud-based hub where partners can access their partner ecosystem, plus support, training documents, and tools. It’s the first stop for partners in need of support for their partner program and it houses all the information and resources partners need access to. 

PRM (partner relationship management)

PRM refers to the cloud-based software that helps manage the partnership ecosystem. For partners, this is where lead generation, traffic, and co-marketing efforts are done. For partner managers, this is where they oversee the partner relationships and provide ongoing support to partners.

PartnerStack itself is an ecosystem-capable PRM that specializes in B2B SaaS. In fact, it’s the only one on the market with a built-in Marketplace and payment automation system. Learn more about becoming a PartnerStack Certified Partner here.

SaaS (software as a service) 

SaaS is a cloud-based subscription model for delivering software over the internet. This software usually doesn’t require any special equipment or hardware and can typically be accessed from any device with an internet connection. 

SI (system integrator)

A system integrator is an enterprise that specializes in transforming hardware and software systems into a single IT solution that functions as one. In short, it is the person or enterprise that links together multiple SaaS products to allow them to function fluidly together.

VAR (value-added reseller)

A value-added reseller is a reseller that takes an existing product and adds features or services that enhance the product so it can be resold as a complete turn-key solution to the end user. In short, the reseller offers additional value beyond the fulfillment of that product. A value-added reseller can be two SaaS services, technical hardware, or a combination of both and can go beyond the IT field to include professional services (like consulting or design).

While both VARs and MSPs add value to a SaaS product, MSPs are longer-term contracts that traditionally deal with providing ongoing support, while VARs tend to be a one-time transactional service. 

Itching to learn even more? For even more partnership terms, visit the PartnerStack Glossary.  

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Joint venture

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A joint venture is a business collaboration between two parties on a project. Both parties will benefit from bringing their shared resources and knowledge, and neither party will take on the sole burden of the risk.


Buyer persona

[bahy-er per-soh-nuh]

These depictions of target customers help to define your company's ideal target customers.


SaaS partner programs

[sas pahrt-ner proh-grams]

SaaS (software-as-a-service) partner programs are a systematic way that software companies form mutually beneficial relationships with agencies, influencers, and other companies to drive business results.

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