The Ecosystem-Led Growth Race Between the US and Europe: Who’s Winning?

The Ecosystem-Led Growth Race Between the US and Europe: Who’s Winning?

Olivia Ramirez 7 min
By Olivia Ramirez

You’re chatting with a new friend and potential partner, Stephan over in Germany. After a few failed attempts at German pronunciation, it’s time to talk shop. 

“Are you on Crossbeam?” You ask. “Let’s map accounts. I have a feeling we have a lot of mutual customers.” 

You can tell from Stephan’s expression that you’ve hit a roadblock. 

Your hopes of bringing value to your mutual audiences via an integration and co-selling may have come to a stall. If you can’t map accounts using a partner ecosystem platform (PEP), you won’t be able to validate the scope of the opportunity, know where to target your efforts, and to whom. Using spreadsheets is not an option for you: It puts your data at risk and hinders your ability to drive revenue.

Mapping accounts in real time is key to ecosystem-led growth (ELG) — the strategy for accelerating customer acquisition, expansion, and access to new markets via go-to-market (GTM) motions with partners. The popularity of ELG is rising among companies world-wide, but are some regions quicker to catch on than others? And how can you approach partnering with companies that are hesitant to modernize their strategies and still leaning on traditional tactics like direct sales?

Below, we’ll take a look at how quickly US and European SaaS companies are adopting PEPs and ELG strategies. (Ready to place your bets? 💸 ) 

SaaS Companies are Modernizing Their Tech Stacks

The benefits compound when you embrace ELG and empower GTM teams with partner data. For example: 

When you share partner data with your marketing team (or push the data into their CRM), they can reference the tools prospects are using directly in their email campaigns to generate high-quality leads who want to use your joint solution. For your sales team: sharing partner data (or pushing it to their sales stack) means the ability to create more targeted outreach mentioning the tools their prospects love or getting a same-day warm intro that converts to a demo.

Those who are modernizing their tech stacks and shifting their strategies to become ecosystem-led are seeing results like 46% faster deal cycles and accounts that are 58% less likely to churn (Source: 2023 State of the Partner Ecosystem Report). 

While some European companies, like Skylark in the UK, rely on PEPs like Crossbeam to identify the potential ROI of new partnerships quickly, others aren’t as quick to adapt their tech stacks.

As you can see in the GIF below, PEPs are gaining in popularity in the US and in Europe. However, PEP adoption has risen more quickly in popularity among US SaaS companies since 2022 — rising 16% percentage points in one year. Now, 67% of US companies have adopted a PEP. Compare this to 55% of companies in Europe (up from 53% in 2022)*.

*We collected this data from surveying 500+ partnership and GTM professionals in our 2023 State of the Partner Ecosystem survey.

PEP adoption is a source of truth for the rise of ELG. However, we wanted to validate this insight using an additional data source. In our 2023 State of the Partner Ecosystem report, we published our first ever global “ELG Index”. The ELG Index shows the percentage of SaaS companies in the world that have adopted ELG.

To calculate this percentage, we took the number of companies sharing account-level data on Crossbeam* divided by the total number of SaaS companies in the world according to Partnerbase. We crunched the data and found that 5% of SaaS companies in the world have adopted ELG (up from 0% in 2019).

Next, we compared the popularity of ELG between the US and Europe. In the US, 10% of companies have adopted ELG today. 

Europe is catching onto the ELG movement, but they’re tracking far behind the US. 5% of European SaaS companies are using ELG.

But when we isolate the UK data from the Europe data above, ELG is even more popular in the UK than it is in the US. 12% of SaaS companies in the UK are using ELG today.

The UK tech sector is Europe’s leading ecosystem, and ELG likely plays a significant role in its resiliency in 2022 and its insurmountable growth.

*Sharing account-level data on Crossbeam is a source of truth — It tells us that a company is unlocking GTM motions with partners and is a sign that ELG is in motion.

Getting Your Global Partners On Board

Entering a new market comes with a new set of challenges, but the results are worth it and achievable with the right approach and the right partners. Below are just a few considerations for getting the attention of global partners. 

Share our “How to Buy a Partner Ecosystem Platform” PDF. It includes questions your partner should ask their potential PEP vendor, tips for getting buy-in, and suggestions for creating a PEP scoring rubric. Or ask your Crossbeam CSM to host a “joint jam session” with you and your new partner to familiarize them with the Crossbeam platform and their first account mapping plays

Try partnering with the US or UK branches first. In 2022, the UK tech industry hit the $1 trillion in value milestone, outearning its European peers and more than doubling the value of Germany’s tech industry. 12% of UK companies use ELG (compared to just 5% of all European companies). US businesses can look to the UK for a vast pool of potential partners and possible entry into other sectors within Europe. 

Or get started with your partner’s local branch and then expand across borders once you’ve generated some wins. The local CSMs and account executives (AEs) you’ve built relationships will be more likely to offer introductions to their counterparts abroad once they understand the value of your partnership. Plus, their word can help you gain the trust of their counterparts faster than you could alone.

Understand the pain points of the companies and ecosystems within your target region. For example: A 2021 Salesforce article states that its UK and Ireland partner ecosystem was struggling with recruiting talent. If you have a recruiting product or integrations with recruiting products that enable remote hiring, you could use that value proposition as a selling point to break into the Salesforce ecosystem in the UK and Ireland.

Look to your services partners for help. Global agencies and system integrators (SIs) may have access to clients in your target region who would benefit from your solution. Map accounts with your partner to understand what percentage of your prospect accounts overlap with your agency or SI partner’s clients.

Then, work with your agency or SI partner to understand the unique needs and cultural differences of your prospect accounts in the region, and roll out your offering to one of their clients. When you’ve generated a win with the client, use the results to develop a case study to distribute to similar clients in the region. Additionally, look to your new customer for potential referrals and access to local agencies that can help you expand your reach.

Want to crunch more ecosystem numbers with us? Our 2023 State of the Partner Ecosystem report covers: partnership salaries, the most common tech stacks, the business impact of ELG, and more. Get your copy below.

Olivia Ramirez 7 min

The Ecosystem-Led Growth Race Between the US and Europe: Who’s Winning?

In 2023, 67% of US SaaS companies have adopted a partner ecosystem platform, and the popularity of ecosystem-led growth is rising.

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