Your customers seek software solutions that bridge gaps and interact smoothly with one another in order to amplify process efficiencies and cost savings.
Help them achieve this goal by integrating your product with related tools that your audiences already use in their day-to-day work. This is a huge value add for your customers because your platform is now part of a greater ecosystem that seamlessly shares data, content, contact information, and other vital information.
Choose your integration partners wisely—best case scenario, you both grow revenue through packaged sales and co-marketing campaigns. Worse case scenario, you tie yourself to a poorly suited partner who tarnishes your name.
What is an integration partner?
Integration partners are companies that sell tools that closely relate to your own products and can interact with your software. For Allbound, we strategically integrate our partner relationship management portal with popular platforms like Salesforce, NetSuite, and Hubspot. Our integrated technologies make it effortless for users and their partners to engage with content, share leads, and set up marketing campaigns.
Working with integration partners helps build customer loyalty and improves the adoption of your solution within your industry. Knowing that a trusted vendor already pre-vetted complementary tools alleviates customers’ stress when they evaluate options or build APIs themselves. They also can expect minimal work incorporating multiple integration partners into their existing technology stack.
However, as is true in life, you must first know yourself before you can find that perfect partner. In this case, understand untapped opportunities for your technology to improve. For example, let’s say that you offer PR professionals a tool for distributing press releases; a natural companion to this function would be a tool that automatically tracks resulting press mentions.
For ideas on what capabilities your audience wants, consider:
• Consulting with your Customer Success team about common complaints and requests
• Conducting market research into what features competitors offer
• Surveying customers about which features they would want to see integrated
What’s more, it’s advised to consult with your product engineering team to understand what’s forecasted in the upcoming year and the technical feasibility of building the new feature yourselves.
Returning to the earlier example, if your team is confident that they can easily update your tool to generate press mention reports, this may not be a capability to prioritize when seeking integration partners. On the other hand, if it’d take significant work and would be tabled in light of more pressing need; in this case, incorporate this in-demand feature into your partner integration strategy.
How to find integration partners that strategically fit with your software
Before you begin discussions with potential integration partners, identify your ideal partner profile (or persona). Much like your ideal customer profile, this is a semi-fictitious representation of a successful partnership with shared goals and values.
Finding partners is like interviewing employee candidates: there needs to be some active wooing from both parties. Show companies why they’ll benefit from working with you and the resources you’re ready to provide.
Remember to look out for deal breakers when it comes to the other company’s reputation. Find out if their customer support services offer any value. Do they consistently provide a sub-par customer experience? Additionally, research their past to see if they have a foundation of transparency and a customer-first attitude. If they’re history is plagued by scandals and bad press, pass on a partnership. Their reputation will reflect negatively on your brand.
Ask yourself these questions to determine if a potential integration partner will bring strategic value and growth to your business:
• Will this partner increase the value of your product with your existing and future customers? Or is it merely a “nice to have” feature?
• Is their product or service something your customers have asked for? If not, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if the partner is providing an innovative new solution.
• Are your corporate values aligned? For example, if your brand prides itself on out-of-the-box implementation, find partners whose products are also easy to set up.
• How much do your ideal customers overlap?
• Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, how willing is the partner to collaborate with you? Will they take on the costs of building an integration? Will they work together with your team to market the relationship and deliver leads?
Lastly, don’t put your customers at risk. Review their security policies and ask them important questions like:
• Do you have the necessary certifications for your industry, like SOC2, PCI, or HIPAA?
• Do you have an insurance policy in place in case of a data breach?
• What is the plan when there is an interruption in service for critical systems? How do you communicate with your customers and resolve problems as fast as possible?
How to communicate the integration to existing and potential customers
Start by announcing your new integration through all available channels, including email, customer login landing pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms. If your product has an in-app messaging tool, send an announcement to users the next time they log in.
No matter where you share this message, make sure all links drive traffic back to a landing page on your website. This page should communicate how the integration works and why your customers will find it valuable.
Utilize the power of your channel partner program by creating technology bundles for your partners to sell. Make it easy for them to view, share, and understand the bundles when they log in to your partner portal.
Communicating this integration isn’t just about marketing. Work with your partner to train relevant internal teams about implementing both tools to create a seamless onboarding experience.
How to announce a new partnership and communicate the benefits to their customers and prospects
Make sure your product is listed in your partner’s marketplace as soon as possible. Their existing customers visit app stores to see which companies have ready-made integrations that make purchasing decisions very straightforward. Potential customers can be swayed by a marketplace that makes the setup easy and doesn’t require drawn out integrations and implementations.
Use your partner portal software, a boon to marketing collaboration. Make co-marketing an integral part of your relationship by onboarding your new integration partner and granting access to co-branding.As a bonus, consider releasing marketing development funds (MDF) to further empower partners’ ability to promote your joint software packages.
Use your content library to provide the marketing collateral they need to co-create webinars, PR releases, blogs, and social media posts. Every piece of content should direct to a landing page that explains why you chose this partner, and how to install their integration.
Finally, sell your new integration together. Your partners are the experts of their own platform and can better explain how your product fits into their customers’ workflows. Train your sales team to do the same when speaking to your own customers. Co-selling can lead to bigger deal sizes and establish your brand as a leader with a lively ecosystem.
What’s next for your partner integration strategy?
Partner integrations are a great strategy for improving your customers’ overall experience. They save time with pre-built API connections and include a clear way to get support if there is a problem. Once you’ve secured your new integration partner, the next step is to work on an effective partner engagement strategy to maximize your shared growth.
For additional reading that can further inform your partner integration strategy, check out:
• Nine Tips to Find and Recruit Channel Partners – Identifying the ideal partners with which to integrate is only half the battle. This article will arm you with strategies on how to successfully recruit program participants.
• Perfect Your Partner Management & Sales Framework – No matter how sound your partner integration strategy may be, it won’t thrive without a solid program framework in its corner. Use this article as a checklist to ensure you have all components necessary for success, ranging from comprehensive reporting to internal support.
• Why Channel Should Pay Attention to SaaS Renewal Rates – Integrating your technology with strategically chosen partners should ultimately improve the user experience. However, you shouldn’t just assume that this is always the case. Pay close attention to customer renewal rates as a measurement of user satisfaction.
- Hootsuite’s Blueprint: How to Formalize Your Partner Program - November 28, 2023
- Economic adjustment toolkit – The key to building a resilient partnership strategy - November 26, 2023
- How to select the right partners for your program - November 8, 2023