Planning your implementation

A short primer on partnerships and approaching your integration

If you find yourself on this page, there is an above-average probability that at one point or another a colleague has asked you to help 'connect' one piece of software to another. There is an even higher chance that the term 'connect' was not well defined, and if it was, you weren't informed about it!

At PartnerStack, we understand your pain. That's why we've structured our product and integrations to allow you the flexibility to easily set up, and modify your channel integrations while playing nicely with all the – "creativity" – that exists in your CRM, billing, and internal systems.

This article will provide a useful framework for approaching your partnership implementation to launch faster with less headache.

1. Understanding your channel and programs

A partnership channel is a general term to describe the way your company works with external people and companies (partners) to increase revenue. A partnership channel consists of one or more programs, which are high-level structures used to organize partners and provide them with the right tools.

For instance, a partner in a customer referral program has unique needs compared with a technology partner who requires deeper training, resources, and incentives.

A partnership program consists of:

  • partnerships (partner types)
  • the processes followed to work with partners (sales motions)
  • the benefits your partners receive from working with you (incentives)

Program and partner types

While programs often take on a variety of names, typically all programs fall into one of a marketing, referral, or reseller programs.

Marketing/Affiliate partners
Marketing partners (also known as affiliate, influencer, or advocacy partners) create content for their audience to drive traffic to your product or service using their unique PartnerStack links. Marketing partners are unique to other partner types in that they generally do not personally know who they are referring. Rather, marketing partners look to drive a high volume of traffic to your business and earn a commission when that traffic converts. (Read more about affiliate programs)

Referral partners
Referral partners typically know more about the people they are referring, often having a direct one-to-one relationship, meaning the leads they send tend to be highly qualified.

Referral partnerships like customer advocates, agencies, and associations, use PartnerStack links and/or Lead submission forms to communicate the prospect to your sales team, and attribute the referral to their partnership. (Read more about referral progams)

Reseller partners
Reseller partners are fully-fledged external salespeople who independently sell your product, typically alongside their own services. Resellers are often described as 'putting the sales on their own paper' which refers to the end-user of your software paying the reseller, and the reseller paying your company a discounted amount.

Reseller partners are known to manage the full sales cycle with your customers, and often handle onboarding, support, and upselling customers. Resellers typically use a Deal registration process to transparently communicate with their prospects, ensuring they are not competing with other partners or your internal sales team for the prospect.

Sales motions, events, and data

With each of these partner types in mind, you can begin to consider the sales motions or business processes used to work with your partners.

The table below displays the common sales motions, as well as some actions and data elements to consider if you are using that motion.

Sales motionDescriptionEvents to considerData to consider
Link sharePartner shares a link broadly on a web property, or directly with an individual. Conversions are attributed back to the partner.- New user sign up
- Demo requested
- New charge
- Invoice paid
- Customer email
- Customer userID
- Product purchased
- Sales amount
- Subscription type
Lead submissionPartner completes a lead form in their partner portal with referral information for your sales team to contact.- Pipeline stage change
- Lead approval
- Lead to opportunity / customer conversion
- Purchase events
- Duplicate lead found
- Required fields for CRM leads
- Lead stages
- Data required to qualify lead
- Contact information (email, phone, time zone)
- Data required for accurate* deduplication
Lead PassYour sales team identifies a lead who would be better serviced by a partner. That lead is assigned 'passed' from sales to the partner for the partner to contact.- Pipeline stage change
- Lead to opportunity / customer conversion
- Purchase events
- Required fields for CRM pipeline object
- Pipeline stages
- Contact information (email, phone, time zone)
Deal Registration and CoSellingPartner identifies potential customer, and registers active opportunity with your team to avoid conflict and communicate sales needs during process.- Account, contact, opportunity creation
- Pipeline stage change
- Required fields for CRM pipeline object
- Pipeline stages
- Contact information (email, phone, time zone)
- Data required for accurate deduplication

Partner Incentives

Partner incentives describe the financial or other benefits a partner receives for their partner relationship with your company.

Competitive partner incentives make it easier to recruit, retain, and succeed with your partners. Incentives should be deeply connected to your company goals to ensure that your partners succeed when your company succeeds.

PartnerStack makes it easy to automatically generate flat ($) or percentage (%) commission payments to partners when a referred customer hits a milestone in their sales or customer lifecycle. Alongside your integration, the triggers system is used as an event-driven system to generate partner commissions in PartnerStack

The incentives you provide to your partners are deeply tied to your business model and integration, and you should aim to have them well defined with your partnership team before starting your integration.


Questions to ask your Partnerships team

What kind of programs and partners are we supporting today?
How do partners work with us? Do they follow one or multiple sales motions?
What incentives do we offer to partners? At what point in the prospect or customer lifecycle do partners earn a reward?

2. Understanding your business

Successful partnerships channels align with the goals of the business. Taking the time to understand the goals and software that power your company today will allow you to build a useful integration.

This section will help you bring to mind some of the key components of your business that will influence your PartnerStack implementation.

Existing software

Now that you have a better understanding of your partner's sales motions and goals, take some time to list the various software tools that interact with your sales motions today.

Not all software has the same integration capabilities, so the specific software involved is a critical piece towards your implementation plan.

Below you can find a list of common software categories used by PartnerStack clients:

  • CRM (Salesforce, Hubspot, Microsoft dynamics)
  • Marketing automation(Hubspot, Marketo)
  • Communications (Mailchimp, Slack)
  • Training and Enablement (LMS, HighSpot)
  • Billing (Stripe, Recurly, BrainTree, Quickbooks)
  • Reporting and BI (Snowflake, amazonS2, Salesforce reporting)

Customer and prospect lifecycle

Your PartnerStack integration will connect to the key events in your prospect and customer journey.
Speak to your team to understand the process that turns prospects into paying customers, as well as the payment options, plans, and refund policies available to them.


Reporting on partnership sales isn't always as straightforward as direct sales. PartnerStack provides both in-app reporting, as well as programmatic and manual exporting features for your reporting needs.

Consider existing reporting and BI (Business Intelligence) tools, and understand what data points are critical for program reporting.

With the growing market of cloud BI tools, you may find it most practical to add PartnerStack as an input source to enrich an existing data pipeline or warehouse with partnerships data.

Policy and security compliance

PartnerStack interacts with the data of your end customers. It's important to understand the data access, retention, and privacy policies of your company to ensure compliance.


Areas to consider in your business

How do we turn prospects into customers?
What software products are core to our marketing, sales, and billing?
Do we have a unified BI tool to report on partner data?
Does our program need to conform to any specific data or security policies?

3. Choosing the right integration pattern

With a strong understanding of your partners, business, and goals, you're ready to review our deeper documentation on settings up your PartnerStack integrations:

Capturing Link Traffic for Affiliates

Working with Leads

Working with Deals

What's next...

Familiarize yourself with the PartnerStack object model, or just into the guides that match your implementation plan.