Being fresh out of college as a Psychology major and student athlete (field hockey), entering the world of technology and partnerships was an eye opening experience for me. Not only did I know absolutely nothing about the space, but I was struggling to keep up with the everyday lingo and conversations.
In my role, I am expected to educate prospective customers on how Partner Fleet can help them transform their businesses. But since I’ve never walked a mile in their shoes, I struggled to connect to their issues.
How can I consult Directors and VPs on how to run their partner programs better, if I didn’t even understand the words and terms they use daily?
I’m sure many of us still feel this on an everyday basis with a lot of the things we do.
To close my confidence gap, I knew I needed to become an expert, and the first place to start was learning the language. I decided to build a list of the most important vocabulary terms we see in the everyday partnerships and technology world to help bridge that gap. It’s been incredibly helpful for me to get up to speed, and I figure those in a similar position may benefit from it as well!
Just a note: These definitions include a thorough description of each term followed by a shorter TL;DR, which is how I would explain them to a friend or parent.
Partnerships terms and definitions
These terms are specific to working in partnerships. Partnership directors, partnership managers, and other partnership professionals use these terms comfortably in everyday life.
Jump ahead to technology terms and definitions.
Table of contents
Account mapping involves identifying key decision-makers in a target customer account and matching them with the corresponding roles within a partnering organization. This approach can result in customized strategies to create mutual value and drive business growth. You can do this manually or with a tool like Crossbeam or Reveal.
TL;DR: Taking a list of accounts and cross-referencing or “mapping” it with a partner’s list of accounts. (These accounts, or “populations”, include leads, prospects, open opportunities, or customers.)
An affiliate link is a unique URL that contains an affiliate ID or username. When someone clicks on the link and makes a purchase, the affiliate earns a commission.
An affiliate partner is a company or individual who promotes another company's products or services in exchange for a commission on sales or leads generated. They typically use their own marketing channels and audience to drive traffic to the partner's website or landing page.
TL;DR: Partnerships that drive traffic to your properties through tracked links and earn a cut (percentage of the sale) when that traffic converts.
Agencies are organizations that provide specialized services to other businesses. They may offer consulting, marketing, or HR support for an hourly or flat fee.
TL;DR: Service provider that you outsource work to.
An alliance is a type of partnership that is formed between two or more organizations with the aim of achieving shared benefits and pursuing common goals. These partnerships can take various forms, such as joint ventures, research collaborations, marketing partnerships, or distribution agreements.
TL;DR: Two companies that work together on mutually beneficial projects – including the development, creation, marketing, and sales of products or services or other objectives.
Attribution refers to the process of identifying and assigning credit to the source (or partner) that contributed to a particular outcome, such as a conversion, sale, upsell, retention, lead, etc.
Channel partnerships involve a business strategy in which two or more companies collaborate to market and sell each other's products or services through their respective channels. By teaming up in this way, companies can extend their reach, generate more revenue, and leverage each other's unique strengths to achieve mutual benefits.
TL;DR: A channel partner resells, supports, and/or delivers an ISV’s product to market.
A developer portal is a website or platform that provides developers with access to tools, resources, and documentation to help them build and integrate software applications. It serves as a central hub for developers to collaborate, learn, and access support from the software provider.
TL;DR: A repository of information and resources for developers who are using another company’s APIs (documentation on how developers can build into their platform).
In the context of B2B software, an ecosystem is a complex network of interconnected companies, products, and services within a specific niche or industry. This ecosystem encompasses software vendors, developers, integrators, consultants, and other service providers, along with the customers and end-users who rely on these software products and services. Moreover, the ecosystem often includes partnerships, integrations, and APIs that enable different software products and services to collaborate and deliver a more complete solution for customers.
TL;DR: A network of businesses who serve similar audiences but are not competitors and may benefit from collaborative marketing and sales strategies (exists whether you work together or not, more benefits when you cooperate with more providers and influencers in the ecosystem).
Ideal partner profile (IPP)
An ideal partner profile (IPP) is a set of criteria to describe the type of partner that would be most beneficial for a B2B partnership. The profile outlines the characteristics that are most important for the business, such as the partner's industry knowledge, customer base, geographic location, product/service offerings, and business approach. By developing an IPP, companies can better identify and evaluate potential partners that align with their objectives, values, and requirements, ensuring partnerships are formed with compatible companies that can contribute to long-term success.
TL;DR: An ideal partner profile is a research-based profile that describes the traits and characteristics of your highest-performing partners.
Implementation partnerships refer to collaborations between organizations or individuals to execute a project or program. These partnerships involve sharing resources, expertise, and responsibilities to achieve a common goal.
TL;DR: Outsourcing customer onboarding and optimization.
An in-app marketplace is a platform within a mobile application that allows users to purchase additional features, products, or services directly from the app. It provides a convenient and seamless way for users to access and purchase items without leaving the app.
TL;DR: Marketplace embedded within a web application (content based).
Independent software vendor (ISV)
An independent software vendor (ISV) is a company that develops and sells software products that are designed to be used by other businesses or individuals. They are not affiliated with any particular hardware or software platform and operate independently.
TL;DR: Software company.
Integration platform as a service (iPaaS)
Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a cloud-based platform that enables businesses to integrate and connect various applications and data sources. It provides a centralized platform for managing and automating data flows between different systems.
TL;DR: Platform that streamlines the process of developing an integration with another platform (they cut engineering effort by around 6-10x).
In technology, integration refers to the process of connecting two or more software applications or systems to work together seamlessly. Integrations are typically used to automate processes and share data between different systems, reducing manual work and increasing efficiency. Integrations can be achieved through various methods such as APIs, webhooks, and middleware.
TL;DR: Exchanging and enriching data to ultimately offer more value to the customer and end-user.
Learning management software (LMS)
Learning management software (LMS) is a digital platform that enables the management, delivery, and tracking of educational content and training programs. It provides a centralized system for educators and trainers to create, organize, and deliver online courses and materials to learners. In partnerships, this helps to motivate partners to market and sell your product or service more efficiently and effectively.
TL;DR: Apps that house all your educational content, including courses and partner certifications.
Long-tail partners refer to a type of partner in a B2B ecosystem that operates in a specialized or niche market, as opposed to the more mainstream or popular market. These partners may have a smaller customer base, but they are typically highly specialized and knowledgeable in their particular area of expertise. Examples of long-tail partners include niche software vendors, system integrators, and value-added resellers (VARs). Long-tail partners can be valuable in a B2B ecosystem as they often offer unique solutions or services that can address specific customer needs, and can help companies reach customers in markets or segments that may be difficult to penetrate on their own.
TL;DR: High volume of lower impact data points (a lot of them, lower value individually, high value all together).
Managed service provider (MSP)
A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that provides IT services and support to businesses. They typically offer proactive monitoring, maintenance, and management of IT systems and infrastructure on a subscription basis.
TL;DR: Offer additional services on top of a vendor’s SaaS product in exchange for a recurring fee (technical support for a product, outsourcing IT aspect of managing tools to them).
A marketplace is a platform or ecosystem that connects businesses with other businesses to buy and sell goods or services. They enable businesses to discover and connect with potential partners and customers, and to facilitate transactions and collaboration. A marketplace on your site can increase visibility, give you access to new markets and customers, and leverage the platform's features and tools to streamline operations and improve overall performance.
TL;DR: A place where partners and customers can search for and discover new companies to partner with or buy their product.
Partner ecosystem platform (PEP)
A partner ecosystem platform (PEP) is a software platform that enables businesses to manage and collaborate with their partners, suppliers, and customers in a centralized location. It provides tools for communication, data sharing, and workflow management to streamline business processes and improve collaboration.
TL;DR: Tools that help partnership professionals grow their ecosystems, track their impact, eliminate time consuming manual data entry, and optimize various partner efforts.
Partner relationship management (PRM)
Partner relationship management (PRM) is a type of software that helps companies manage their relationships with partners and affiliates, such as distributors, resellers, and agents. PRM software typically provides tools and features for partner onboarding, training, enablement, performance tracking, and communication. It can help companies streamline their partner programs, improve collaboration and communication with partners, and ultimately increase revenue and market share.
TL;DR: Facilitate channel partner inbound lead submission and deal registration, automate revenue share reporting and payouts, partner tiering and partner onboarding and enablement.
Post-sale partners are companies or individuals who work with a business after a sale has been made to ensure customer satisfaction and retention. They may provide services such as customer support, training, or maintenance.
TL;DR: Any partnership that impacts your existing customer experience (ex. Tech partnerships fall into this since customers use integrations, and services partners fall into it because they help customers use your product.. They work with customers after they sign up.)
Preferred partner refers to a company that has a special relationship with another company, often involving exclusive benefits or privileges.
TL;DR: A partner you create a strong alliance with (“go-to” partner).
Product to a platform
Product to a platform refers to the process of transforming a standalone product into a platform that can support multiple products and services. This allows for greater scalability, flexibility, and potential for growth.
TL;DR: Learn more in our article What is a platform ecosystem?
Referral partnerships are agreements between two businesses to refer customers to each other. This can be a mutually beneficial way to increase customer base and revenue for both parties involved.
TL;DR: Partners send leads and sales opportunities one or both ways (not actually making the sale).
Reseller partnerships are formed when a company allows another business to sell its products or services under their own brand name. This allows the reseller to offer a wider range of products to their customers without having to develop them themselves.
TL;DR: Sells a vendor’s product directly to their client.
Service partnerships are collaborative relationships between organizations that work together to provide services to their clients. These partnerships can help organizations expand their reach, improve their services, and increase their impact.
TL;DR: A company that provides services to your organization in a way that aligns with company objectives (a way to execute strategy that ultimately benefits both businesses).
Systems integrator (SI)
SI, or Systems Integrator, is a company or individual that specializes in integrating different software and hardware systems to work together seamlessly. They are responsible for ensuring that all components of a system are properly connected and functioning as intended.
TL;DR: Audits, leads, and manages improvements to a client’s tech stack and business processes (basically telling companies what they can be doing better and taking care of all the changes once the company gives the go-ahead).
Strategic alliances (strategic partnerships)
Strategic alliances refer to partnerships between two or more companies that work together to achieve a common goal or objective. These partnerships can involve sharing resources, expertise, and technology to gain a competitive advantage in the market.
TL;DR: Relationships between two entities with overlapping or complementary products or services that aim to achieve a mutually beneficial result (an alliance that goes to market together).
Tech partnerships (product partnerships)
Tech partnerships, also known as product partnerships or integration partnerships, refer to collaborations between two or more companies to develop and market a new product or service. These partnerships allow companies to leverage each other's strengths and resources to create innovative solutions that benefit both parties.
TL;DR: This type of partnership is when your product sends and/or receives data from a partner’s product (complementary solutions).
Value added reseller (VAR)
A value added reseller (VAR) is a company that adds value to a product or service before reselling it to customers. They may provide additional services such as customization, installation, training, and support to enhance the product's value.
TL;DR: VARs customize their ISV partner’s products to create additional value, typically for a single product or use case and then end on engagement.
Technology terms and definitions
Although these tech terms aren’t directly related to partnerships, the are often used in any tech company and are highly relevant to a partnership professional.
Table of contents
Account-based marketing (ABM)
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to B2B marketing that focuses on targeting specific accounts or companies rather than a broader audience. It involves personalized and targeted messaging and content to engage and convert high-value accounts.
TL;DR: Targeted approach to marketing where you market to a specific prospect.
Annual recurring revenue (ARR)
Annual recurring revenue (ARR) is a metric used to measure the predictable and recurring revenue generated by a company's subscription-based products or services over a year. It is calculated by multiplying the average monthly recurring revenue by 12.
TL;DR: Subscription revenue paid at consistent intervals measured on an annual basis.
API stands for Application Programming Interface, which is a set of protocols, routines, and tools for building software applications. It allows different software applications to communicate with each other and share data and functionality.
TL;DR: Mechanisms that enable two software components to communicate with each other using a set of definitions and protocols.
An API call is a request made by a client to a server to retrieve or manipulate data. It involves sending a specific set of instructions to the server and receiving a response in return.
TL;DR: Pinging to see if anything changed or needs to be updated.
An app, short for application, is a software program that is designed to perform specific functions or tasks on a mobile device or computer. Apps can be downloaded and installed from app stores or websites and are often used for entertainment, productivity, communication, or education purposes.
TL;DR: Software application.
B2B stands for business-to-business and refers to transactions or interactions between two businesses rather than between a business and a consumer. It involves the exchange of goods, services, or information between companies.
TL;DR: Selling a product or service from a business to another business.
B2C stands for "business-to-consumer" and refers to companies that sell products or services directly to individual consumers rather than to other businesses. Examples of B2C companies include retail stores, online marketplaces, and service providers such as restaurants and hair salons.
TL;DR: Selling a product or service from a business to a consumer.
Beta is a stage of software development when a limited group of users are given access to test the software before its official release. This testing process is done to find and fix errors, get feedback from users, and improve the overall user experience before launching the final product to the general public. Beta versions may have certain limitations and are usually labeled as "beta" or "beta version".
TL;DR: Software testing where a sample of the target audience tries out the product.
Content management system (CMS)
A content management system (CMS) is a software tool that enables users to easily create, manage, and publish digital content, such as text, images, and videos, on a website. With a user-friendly interface, CMS streamlines the content creation and editing process and also enables multiple users to collaborate on the same website.
TL;DR: Wordpress or webflow.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a language used to design a document written in HTML or XML, including colors, layout, and fonts. It allows web developers to separate the content of a website from its design, making it easier to maintain and update.
TL;DR: Tweaking the design of web pages.
Customer onboarding is the process of introducing new customers to a product or service and guiding them through the initial stages of use. It often involves providing education, training, and support to ensure that customers have a positive experience and can effectively utilize the product or service.
TL;DR: The process by which you bring on a customer and get them using and adopting your product (using and getting value from as much of the product as possible).
Customer relationship management (CRM)
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a strategy that businesses use to manage interactions with customers and prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support processes.
TL;DR: Technology for managing your company's relationship and interactions with customers.
Data transfer (integration)
Data transfer (integration) refers to the process of moving data from one system or application to another. This can involve mapping data fields, transforming data formats, and ensuring data accuracy and consistency.
TL;DR: Pushing data from one system to another automatically.
A feature flag is a software development technique that allows developers to turn specific features or functionality on or off without deploying new code. It enables teams to release new features gradually, test them in production, and roll them back if necessary.
TL;DR: Enabling or disabling software functionality without deploying code to test how it works.
Global solutions integrator (GSI)
A global solutions integrator (GSI) is a company that provides end-to-end IT solutions and services to large enterprises and organizations worldwide. They specialize in integrating various technologies and platforms to create customized solutions that meet the specific needs of their clients.
TL;DR: Huge companies that are major consultancies (SIs).
HTML is a markup language used to create and structure content on the web. It consists of a series of tags and attributes that define the layout and functionality of a webpage. standard markup language for creating web pages (website/landing page). HTML is typically used with CSS to create visually appealing and functional web pages.
Ideal customer profile (ICP)
An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a detailed description of the type of customer or business that your business wants to attract and serve. It includes demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics that make them a good fit for the business.
TL;DR: A research-based profile that describes the traits and characteristics of your highest-performing customers (people you want to go after as customers).
iFrame is an HTML tag that allows you to embed another HTML document within the current one. It is commonly used to display content from another website or to create a modular design for a webpage.
TL;DR: Window from within one product to another product (commonly used for advertisements, embedded videos, web analytics, and interactive content).
Key performance indicator (KPI)
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that helps organizations track progress towards achieving their goals and objectives. It is used to evaluate the success or failure of a particular activity or process.
TL;DR: Your personal goals or the goals of the company – measurable and achievable.
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the predictable and recurring revenue generated by a business on a monthly basis from its subscription-based products or services. It is a key metric used to measure the financial health and growth potential of a subscription-based business.
TL;DR: Same as ARR but divided by 12 to make it monthly.
No-code refers to the use of visual interfaces and drag-and-drop tools to create software applications without the need for traditional coding skills. It allows non-technical users to build and customize applications quickly and easily.
TL;DR: An approach to designing and using applications that doesn't require any coding or knowledge of programming languages.
On-premise refers to software or applications that are installed and run on a company's own servers or hardware, rather than being hosted in the cloud or on a third-party server. This allows for greater control and customization, but also requires more maintenance and resources.
TL;DR: Software that is supported locally (like photos that are only stored on your phone).
Open API is a publicly available programming interface that allows developers to access and interact with a software application or web service. It enables third-party developers to build applications that can integrate with the original software or service.
TL;DR: Provide the general public access to your API and they can build whatever into it (apps and functionality on top of a platform).
Quality assurance (QA)
Quality assurance (QA) is a process of ensuring that a product or service meets the desired quality standards and specifications through systematic monitoring, testing, and evaluation. It involves identifying and addressing any defects or issues before the product or service is released to the market.
TL;DR: Test something to make sure it has no bugs, is working properly, and is ready to roll out to customers.
Return on investment (ROI)
Return on investment (ROI) is a financial metric used to measure the profitability of an investment. It is calculated by dividing the net profit of an investment by the cost of the investment.
TL;DR: When you spend money on something, how much do you get in return?
Sandbox is a testing environment that allows developers to experiment with code without affecting the production environment. It is often used to test new features, fix bugs, and improve performance before deploying changes to the live site.
TL;DR: Trial account to play around with the product (technical environment to test within).
Software as a service (SaaS)
Software as a service (SaaS) is a cloud-based software delivery model where users access applications over the internet. It allows businesses to use software without having to install and maintain it on their own servers.
TL;DR: Software that’s hosted in the cloud that’s monetized through a recurring subscription model.
Tech debt refers to the cost of maintaining and fixing software systems that were developed quickly and without proper planning, resulting in a backlog of technical issues that need to be addressed. It is a metaphorical term that describes the long-term consequences of taking shortcuts in software development.
TL;DR: What results when development teams take actions to expedite the delivery of a piece of functionality or a project which will later need to be refactored (prioritizing speedy delivery over perfect code, any aspect of the system you need to go back and overhaul).
The Cloud refers to a network of remote servers that store, manage, and process data, allowing users to access and use their files and applications from anywhere with an internet connection. It is a popular solution for businesses and individuals looking for flexible and scalable computing resources without the need for physical hardware.
TL;DR: Location agnostic hosting of software.
A web app is a software application that runs on a web server and can be accessed through a web browser. It allows users to perform various tasks and functions, such as online shopping, social networking, and productivity tools.
TL;DR: Software environment that helps you complete tasks and accessed through a web browser and requires a login.
Web scraping is the process of extracting data from websites using automated tools or software. It involves analyzing the HTML structure of a website and extracting relevant information for further analysis or use.
TL;DR: Pulling information from a publicly available web page into a document
A webhook is a way for an application to provide other applications with real-time information. It sends data to a specified URL when a certain event occurs.
TL;DR: Pushing information one direction based on a trigger or event that happened.
Website is a collection of web pages that are accessed through the internet and contain information about a particular topic, organization, or individual. It can be used for various purposes such as communication, marketing, e-commerce, and entertainment.
TL;DR: Publicly available site to learn about something.
A widget is a small graphical user interface element that provides quick access to frequently used functions or information.
TL;DR: Interface or screen that can be embedded into a product via a line of code.
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