Not all SaaS products are created equally. And when it comes to SaaS channel strategy, some companies are more suited for success in the channel. Historically, companies that offer high value, enterprise software benefit from utilizing partner programs. However, in today’s cloud-driven economy, having a strategic approach to scaling revenue via indirect sales partners has become imperative for all sizes of solutions.
To begin, it’s important for businesses to consider their product offering. How much training does your product demand? Is your sales process straightforward? Do you have a scalable, repeatable sales model?
If so, growing a partner program for your SaaS business may be the best decision you’ll make. Consider these steps.
1) Establish realistic goals.
The goal of any partner program is to generate customers through your channel—as effectively or more effectively than your direct, internal efforts. Generally, you’ll be tracking the same metrics as you do with your direct efforts.
A piece of advice? This takes time. Depending on the size of your company or the complexity of your SaaS offering, building partnerships with reliable resellers takes considerable effort. Start small and increase your personnel (and budget) as success is proven.
The overarching objective of a partner program is create a model that can be communicated to your partners. You also need to make sure you’re program anticipates the resources needed to properly onboard, educate and resource those partners for success. It must empower them to be working advocates for your product and brand. And it should reward both your company and partners.
2) Structure around success.
Many reseller programs include tiered levels. This can help you segment partners based on how different partners are reselling your product. This approach can help you determine resources needs for each different tier and give partner a path for growing their relationship with your company over time.
While strategically tiering partners can be the ideal future state of your partner program, don’t force yourself to define those tiers and segments out of the gate. It’s ok to be more focused – offering only one type of partnership initially. What’s more important is find the right partners and being able to activate them to contribute leads to your sales pipeline that are as qualified as your best inbound opportunities.
At the end of the day, partnership is all about building value for your customers. And structuring around success can help outline the value that partners bring.
3) Define motivation drivers.
By creating a SaaS reseller program, you’re responsible for motivating your partners to strive towards your success metrics. This boils down to the motivation drivers and elements that can inspire your partners to pursue goals that result in positive outcomes for their business and yours.
Define your actions based around how you can help your partners deliver. Some key drivers include:
- Education: First and foremost, your partner program should drive partners to increase knowledge levels about your SaaS solution.
- Increased sales activity: Educating partners on how to identifying and pursue new business is imperative. You need to give partners a clear understanding of your target business profile and then teach them how to engage with your target buyer personas using the content you’ve created for them, it will be easier for them to identify those opportunities during their day-to-day business activities.
- Excellent support: Supporting your partners through every step of the process—from onboarding to marketing and sales to post-sale customer success—ensures that they provide your customers with the same treatment.
4) Integrate your recruitment processes.
Far too often, companies who sell through resellers beg and bribe top partners until they agree to add products to their lineup. Rather than relying solely on sales, consider the perks of inbound marketing.
From targeted webinars to effective content, marketing can draw prospects in—and convince them to sell with you, even before a phone call. Additionally, strong content can help weed out prospective partners. By providing them with a general idea of your product, you can help paint a picture what a partnership will entail.
5) Roll out
Once you establish your model and framework, it’s go time. Start recruiting partners and implementing processes! Whether you create a partner-overview site page, a partner sign-up landing page, or a partner-tier site page, it’s time to create visibility.
Resist the temptation to sign up everyone that shows interest in being in your program. Hold true to your partner personas and target partner profile. Remember, you’ve got to dedicate resources to engaging and activating your partners. If a prospective partner isn’t already engaging with companies that fit your customer business profile or buyer personas, move on.