Partnership Ecosystem Insights: Old and New Worlds are Colliding

Insights from ecosystem leaders across B2B SaaS

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So we poked around to get some answers

We tapped on the shoulders of 20 of the most captivated partnerships leaders, including:

  • Directors of sales and partnerships
  • Marketing heads
  • Strategic alliance managers
  • Directors of sales and partnerships

All to benchmark their knowledge of ecosystems, the value they bring, and if (and how) they use them in their GTM strategy. Keep scrolling to discover the biggest head scratches, anxieties, and truths about an ecosystem-powered future.

Editor's note: The data for The Partner Ecosystem Market Pulse survey was collected in September 2022. Updated findings will be reflected in upcoming PartnerStack published survey results.



The question of the hour: what’s your take on an ecosystem?

Most people have a concrete idea of what an ecosystem is — here are the top three depictions:

  1. “An interconnected network of cross-functional players who work together to define, build, and execute market-valuable solutions for customers”
  2. “A long overdue reboot of what SaaS distribution should be: vendors with increasingly complex products, traditional distribution stepping up service offerings, MSPs focusing on narrower specialist practices as end customers seek deeper, more meaningful relationships to help them stay agile and ahead of their markets.”
  3. “Partners, Community, Influencers and Marketplaces coming together to provide fully integrated solutions for clients”

But what we didn’t expect? This👇

"It is a consistent legal framework to manage dependencies across multiple businesses."

And definitely not this👇

"In contrast to there being a lot of buzz, I am seeing a lot of companies limiting access to their data. Curious about how long they can keep that up…"
These musings got us wondering 🤔…

Do people invest in their own ecosystem?

There was no clearer verdict. Everyone said yes, which means we’re onto something big.

Infographic #1

What’s more, 65% of respondents reveal they’ve already joined an ecosystem outside of their own while 15% have not yet pulled the trigger.

Infographic #2


All this buy-in piqued our curiosity, so we peeled back the layers of the people behind partnerships.

Folks run partner programs from all over the world, occupy various roles, and belong to assorted industry verticals:

For many, this isn’t their first rodeo in partnerships — and definitely not their last.

Infographic #3

Regardless of who’s put in the work and for how long, all partner types get love, although some more than others.

Infographic #4

Just as it takes (at least) two to make a partnership, most companies employ two dedicated ambassadors to head up their partnerships team.

But company size and industry carry the biggest influence on team composition and volume. Partnerships teams ranged from as few as one to as many as 100+.



Now, let’s talk cash. 🤑

Money matters, and to get far (enough), companies invest variable amounts in partnerships, ecosystems, and integrations annually. While some leaders invest $100K and higher, others can make their ecosystems work with just $10K — most held their investment amounts close to their chests.

What goes in, must come out. Annual Recurring Revenue ranges are worth taking note of this year with respondents sharing the below:

Infographic #5

Indirect channel revenue is an undeniable piece of the pie. On one occasion, a company drives as much as 95% of their company revenue from ecosystems, but most fall within the 20–30% bracket.

Despite even the most lavish cash injections into partner programs, companies face roadblocks to scaling their ecosystem strategy. Limited engagement from other companies, lack of internal alignment, and product fit are just a few of the culprits.

Others include:

  • Short-term pipeline vs. long-term sustainable practice
  • Insufficient preparation and falling back on legacy thinking
  • Proving ROI on day 1, 30, 60, and 90
  • Under-staffed and under-resourced
Most telling of all, 100% of survey respondents have not laid off anyone in partnerships despite the economic downturn, proving it a worthwhile investment. And all but one respondent adjusted compensation to meet the market conditions.

Most companies feel they’ll hit the bullseye on their overall 2022 revenue targets, but their confidence wavers in nailing their partnerships revenue.

Infographic #6
Infographic #7

Certain insecurities about ecosystems and hard-hitting questions keep many up at night:

"How much, how far, how fast?"
"How do we define and track value?"
"When are we going to wake up?"
"Why isn’t everyone doing it?"
"Everyone seems to focus on tech partner ecosystems which are 5% of the revenue of service partner"

For actionable strategies, inspiration and to help de-escalate their anxieties, many companies turn to industry leaders like:

Headshot of Jay McBainHeadshot of Scott BrinkerHeadshot of Jared FullerHeadshot of Allen AdlerHeadshot of Ilona Hansen

Editor's note

The data for The Partner Ecosystem Market Pulse survey was collected in September 2022. Updated findings will be reflected in upcoming PartnerStack published survey results.

So what should you do with all this data?

Start your ecosystem strategy, pronto.

Build a dedicated partnerships function with one or two team members

Get help launching and scaling your growth with the right tools

Trade ya! Click on the button below to fill out a form in exchange for a downloadable, bite-sized version of our survey summary on the value of an ecosystem-driven SaaS future.
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Chloe Tse headshot
Chloe Tse

Chloe Tse is the Editor-in-Chief of PartnerStack Publisher. This gaysian journalist, co-founder of The Feminism Project, media critic and social justice warrior has a background in print and digital magazines. In addition to running content marketing in B2B SaaS, Chloe has been published in The Toronto Star, Curve, Fashion, S/Style, CAA Magazine,, Food Network Canada, Daily Xtra and more. When she's not promoting ecosystems in SaaS or intersectional feminism (and emphasizing the importance of positive representation), she's deep diving into partnerships and sniffing out the next best story with her pomchi.

Krystal Leung headshot
Krystal Leung

Krystal is a tech-obsessed writer at PartnerStack who’s set on shaking up the startup world with human-first storytelling. When she’s not wielding creative strategy in her messaging, you can find her sinking her teeth into Calgary’s food scene (where she’s based) and snuggling with her golden retriever, Chili.

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