7 Easy Ways to Scale Your SaaS Partner Program
Looking for easy strategies to grow your SaaS partner program?
Scaling SaaS businesses isn't for the faint of heart. According to studies, 70% of all businesses, including SaaS businesses, fail when they scale too early.
SaaS partnership programs aim for steady growth, regardless of what type of partnership it is. However, the "instant success recipe" is a fallacy, and there's no magic formula for scaling a SaaS partner program.
So, if your goal at the start of the partnership venture was to get instant results, you'll be disappointed. Scaling takes time and effort, and no doubt many mistakes will be made. However, if you do it right and follow industry best practices, you will succeed.
Defining a SaaS Partner Program
A SaaS partner program is a collaboration with third parties who agree to help promote and/or distribute your software to new markets.
In order to scale your business through record-breaking sales and marketing, partnering with another company that shares a common customer base can be a great advantage. This is because it allows you to leverage a well-known brand with a wide reach and enable a customer exchange that benefits both partners equally.
SaaS Partner Program Types
There are many types of SaaS partner programs in the B2B sector. As a quick refresher, we briefly explain the most common program types below.
One of the most popular SaaS partner programs is the affiliate program. In this model, your company works with agencies, website owners, and content providers to sell your product.
Unlike resellers, affiliates generate leads to your platform and convince them to buy directly from you. Affiliate partners often offer your product on their platforms using unique and trackable links
A referral partner is a company that recommends your product or services to its contacts, specifically those who have a specific pain point your company could solve.
A referral partner is a close ally of your business who, in exchange for compensation, utilizes the trust they've built with people with whom they've established relationships.
When it comes to closing sales, the trust that has already been built between the company and the contact is very effective. The referred party believes the referral partner's endorsement, which increases their propensity to learn more about your good or service and eventually make a purchase.
In a reseller partnership, your partners market and sell your product through their own channels. Most reseller partners offer your SaaS for sale along with other programs on their software marketplaces.
However, resellers do more than just open a new sales channel. They also add value to the purchase; hence the name "value-added reseller". Resellers can help their customers with installing, customizing, and providing customer support for the product.
7 Strategies to Scale Your SaaS Partner Program
Scaling your partner program can help you reach new customer bases or industries and generate new leads. However, scaling requires work and isn't a "plug-and-play" solution, as mentioned earlier. Below are 7 tactics you can use to scale your SaaS partner program.
Goal and Team Alignment
Both your business and your partners stand to gain equally from a good partner program.
Only when both parties have stated concrete goals that can realistically be achieved through collaboration can an agreement be said to be mutually beneficial.
You can align with your partners by creating business plans and partner agreements. A partnership agreement sets out the parameters of the activity and the rights and responsibilities of each partner.
A business plan outlines your partners' operational strategies in line with the overall business strategy. Together, they eliminate the uncertainty that often undermines the trust needed to build and sustain partnerships.
Put Your Customers at the Center
Companies that put their customers above their own objectives have more success. That's why you should always seek feedback from both your customers and partners. Show a genuine interest in how they use your product so you can offer them the best version possible.
As Adam Pasch explains in his Greatest Minds in Partnerships interview, “When both the vendor and partner understand how both can work together to meet the needs of the customer, everyone wins in the process.”
Leverage Partnership Tiers
As your ecosystem grows, you need a structure to help you scale your partner program. Tiering can help in this situation. Tiers or partner levels are a simple way to productively scale things like resources, margins, discounts, training, service and support, and marketing tools.
Tiering also allows you to engage as many partners as possible while inspiring and focusing on high-performing partners. You can use this checklist to help you get started with your partner program structure.
Set SMART KPIs
The great potential of partnerships lies in their ability to increase your company's market share, customer retention rate, brand awareness, and profit, which increases your ability to scale exponentially.
However, you may never achieve these goals if you don't keep track of your KPIs.
As the saying goes, "You can't improve what you can't measure." KPIs are critical because they assess the value of your partnership initiatives and the likelihood of their long-term success. You need to monitor and evaluate your sales program from multiple angles to accurately determine what's working and what's not.
Focusing only on revenue isn't enough.
By examining these metrics, you can determine what areas you need to improve if your profits are stagnant or declining.
You can also use these indicators to determine what's working well when you're making a profit (and how you can do even better to drive business growth).
Your KPIs add evidence-based credibility to your sales process and serve as a compass for your partner marketing initiatives. You can use this resource to help you start setting SMART goals for your program.
Create Co-marketing Opportunities
Not only will your audience grow if you co-market events with partners, but your partners will, as well.
For example, when you co-host a webinar with your partner, the event is cross-promoted so it reaches both your audience and your partner's audience. This gives you access to a new, like-minded audience.
The same goes for other partner marketing channels, such as guest blogging. Partners often offer valuable skills and perspectives to your business and its customers. When you allow guest blogs on your site, your customers can access the expertise of your entire partner program. This builds trust between your partners and customers while providing material on relevant topics that you can use in your co-marketing strategies.
Partner marketing is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your expertise and that of your company. This increases the trustworthiness of your brand, boosts lead generation, and motivates potential partners to sign up for the program, which ultimately helps your SaaS program to scale.
We already know that a strong marketing strategy should include video content. But did you know you can leverage video content for your partners, too?
In our recent webinar Robots vs. Partnerships: Making Real Connections With Your Partners, we discussed how videos are important to get and keep your partner's attention. That's because video is a much more engaging format to tell your brand's story than text or photos. By doing so, you'll help your partner remember and become more interested in your brand.
Additionally, videos provide partners with a personalized experience, which in turn increases partner engagement.
Video provides a holistic engagement strategy, whether you focus on a specific phase, such as onboarding, implementation, continuous enablement, or the entire partner journey.
Use Partnership Software
Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software that helps you build and centralize partnership processes and workflows.
Most importantly, PRM software increases efficiency and fosters trust among partners by giving them access to crucial data, business analytics, and deal protection. There are also intuitive features that make it much easier to onboard, monitor, and manage the relationships with your partners.
Other tasks PRM software can assist you with include:
- Sharing resources/documents
- Creating and maintaining personalized partner portals
- Communicating with partners
- Real-time evaluation of each partner's performance
All different types of SaaS partner programs can be managed and tracked with the PRM software platform. Every step of the process is automated, making it easier for your business to scale.
A SaaS company can be difficult to scale. To increase customer satisfaction and partner health, and ultimately scale your SaaS partner program, you need a combination of easy-to-implement tactics.
But remember, no matter the tactics you choose, remember that you will only grow if the customer is completely satisfied. Keeping their needs at the heart of your partnership strategy is the only way to win.
By combining these best practices with a PRM like Kiflo, you can scale without much difficulty while avoiding the typical SaaS growth problems.