How Chili Piper Excels Their Program With Partner Marketing
This article is a part of a compelling series that will give you practical tips on how to grow a successful partner program. By leveraging the advice of the greatest minds in partnerships, you will learn how to effectively create, structure, and build a partner program that scales revenue. If you are a startup or SMB in the B2B tech industry, this series is for you.
For this article, we interviewed Madison Perry, Chili Piper's Head Of Demand Generation & Partner Marketing. Chili Piper is a meeting automation platform that enables revenue teams to boost inbound conversions by integrating different products, helping qualify and route leads to sales reps.
As a marketing professional with years of experience, Madison joined the company to help build, organize, and expand Chili Piper's partner marketing process in order to launch and enhance its partner program to excellence.
Read the following interview to discover more about Chili Piper’s partner program and how they’ve used partner marketing to build and excel in their partnership efforts into the powerhouse it is today.
Take advantage of the advice coming from Madison herself.
How Chili Piper Structured Their Thriving Partner Program
“We partner with other organizations to make our product even better and vice versa.”
Did you know the secret to building a business that will soar to great heights is to help other people or businesses grow?
Not only does this proven fact embody the value of a strong partnership, but it perfectly describes how and why Chili Piper structured their partner program.
Chili Piper launched their partner program to collaborate with other companies, to enhance their products, and to use their products to support the expansion of other companies.
The Chili Piper Partner Program is divided into three branches, each with goals that have contributed to their reputable success.
This program requires more intensive and strategic attributes. Such as the intense engineering bandwidth.
Chili Piper's ICP includes companies that lead and specialize in:
- Demand Generation
- Marketing and Sales Leadership
- Marketing Operations
- Sales Operations
These companies range from small startups to enterprise-level. As a result, there are three main ecosystems for channel partner attributes. Each has representatives assigned to it who pursue different service providers and consultants.
- Hubspot ecosystem
Customers and community members who help Chili Piper spread the word about their business network can participate in a referral program and win exclusive gifts and swag.
Their rewards framework is a "one referral = one qualified conversation per company" system. As a partner, if your referral is a qualified lead, you will receive incentives. If you submit additional referrals, you will receive exclusive bonus benefits! Users sign up for the unique referral URL, and a member of Chili Piper contacts the referred contact to schedule a chat.
But what does Chili Piper do with these leads once they’re received? Instead of focusing their efforts on the traditional marketing funnel which tries to amass and nurture leads through email sequences, they instead focus on the intent of the user.
They do this with a strategy called, “the straight-to-meeting imperative.” They look for the folks who become qualified-held meetings (QHM), or in other words, book a demo, show up for it, engage in the conversation, and meet the company's basic requirements.
And it works. Using this strategy, Chili Piper reports that they have seen conversion rates up to 74%, nearly a 400% increase from the B2B average!
“Education is the most important piece of the puzzle.”
While onboarding partners, Chili Piper believes that both parties will get the most value by educating their teams or key stakeholders on their business model.
This process makes it simpler to understand the differences and unique weaknesses and strengths of each party. It also helps answer how they can benefit their partners in the best way possible.
They do this by sending a cordial invitation to a “Lunch & Learn” and extending a Door Dash gift or bottle of wine to their potential partners to start things off.
During this event, they will sit with their team's solutions consultant and the AE side, who can help with important questions they typically get during demos.
They will also bring in team stakeholders to thoroughly understand not only Chili Piper’s business model but also that of the other partner.
“Spending time to learn about the partner in their business model is how you get things off on the right foot.“
According to Madison, many businesses lack this strategy and always concentrate on what will benefit them alone. The key advice would be to do things the opposite way. Never forget that no partner is too small. Sometimes the smallest partner can add the most value.
How Partner Marketing Amplifies Chili Piper’s Program
"At Chili Piper, we define a COE - center of excellence - for each function. So what does excellence look like for the partner marketing department? And then how do we get there?"
In the current competitive and fast-paced business environment, it can be hard to differentiate yourself from competitors, especially with the popularity of partner programs.
For many companies looking to put their brand in front of the right clients, partner marketing has emerged as a viable option. It can also be a crucial tool for expanding into new markets, attracting new clients, and gaining an edge over the competition.
However, to get a leg up on this, you must align your teams to ensure the success of partnerships and partner marketing campaigns.
And since partner marketing has been pivotal to Chili Piper's acceleration of their partner program, this is how they go about it.
Taking into account the partner's strengths and weaknesses, Chili Piper manages co-marketing campaigns while adhering to and working with the content team on the quarterly marketing pillars/topics using COE.
The types of content that fit into those pillars are things like:
- One-pagers: These are co-branded and are intended for partners who find them useful.
- LinkedIn posts: Chili Piper shares posts from their partners on their LinkedIn account to demonstrate their investment in the partnerships.
- Virtual Events: They operate a little more strategically by adhering to the content pillars established by the content team. If a partner does not adhere to those pillars, they will host webinars and promote them on behalf of the partner.
- In-person events: This is more beneficial if both parties will be attending the same conference.
- Swag: An acronym for "Stuff We All Get." This is a method for fostering relationships with partners by providing free goods to all their customers—but only to those who genuinely would like them.
- Paid ads: They look for well-established partners who can be relied on to assist in managing paid advertisements. Chili Piper pays for these ads, which further establishes a sense of trust and investment in the partner.
- Blog posts: These could be guest written by the partner, or collaboratively co-written between the two content teams.
The most vital element in this entire process is testing to assess how each asset is scaling and amplifying Chili Piper's partner program.
In addition to this streamlined partner marketing approach, Chili Piper also recently began another successful marketing experiment to add to their toolbox. The company is now paying for ads that are being run through partners’ accounts on LinkedIn. Madison and her team co-brand designs and copy, and then launch the ad to both Chili Piper’s and the partner’s target ICPs.
They started this campaign with three of their partners and have already seen phenomenal success, with CPLs averaging around $75 and a 15% conversion rate! In addition, they just launched convo ads with one of their partners and have already seen very promising results.
This is a huge win for Chili Piper because, not only does it provide them with quality leads and a solid pipeline, but it also does the same for their partners. This further strengthens their relationships because it shows they are eager to invest in their partners’ success.
Given the mutual benefit of these campaigns, Chili Piper plans to onboard at least three new partners operating in different locations in North America and the EMEA to this program in Quarter 3.
The Benefits of Partner Marketing
"The future is partnerships.”
As Madison explains, the tried-and-true marketing and sales techniques are starting to lose their potency, and many businesses still relying on these tactics are negatively impacted in terms of brand awareness and conversion rates.
For example, marketing tactics like email marketing are becoming less and less common because people are reluctant to share personal information online and because most online advertisements are irrelevant.
“Truth is, People aren’t opening emails anymore—we don’t do email marketing at Chili Piper, just a newsletter. They're turning to their trusted service providers that they already have a relationship with to get feedback and input.”
The good news is that partner marketing is helping bridge that gap.
Having a dedicated partner marketing team enables you to communicate with partners directly, comprehend their objectives, and establish solid relationships with customers, who are ultimately your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile).
So the benefits of partnership marketing are:
- First things first, partner marketing amplifies the partnerships by generating interest, educating users, and making people aware of the immense and unique value the partnership brings to the table.
- People can rely on the content to obtain feedback from their trusted service providers.
- It is more efficient because it leverages the strengths of both parties to reach a common goal or audience.
- The number of leads is more likely to increase than the amount coming from traditional marketing.
How to Establish a Successful Partner Marketing Strategy
Align Teams by Proving Success
"You can have as many internal meetings as you want to discuss collaboration, but until you're able to show some sort of win, it's hard to get others to listen.”
It’s challenging to align sales, marketing, and partnerships teams, but it is definitely easier when you have the receipts. It is important to demonstrate the success of an idea or strategy through data and testing to convince the rest of your team to hop on board.
Don't Try to do Everything at Once
“So, in simple words, stick to what you know and learn to build from it.”
Nowadays, Businesses have a tendency to emulate bigger brands on all these different platforms and channels without realizing the number of resources and money invested in bigger campaigns.
Sometimes it's best to stick with what you're familiar with, make use of the tools you already have, and grow from there. Don't push yourself too far.
Chili Piper did this by remaining on their "island," simply repurposing a lot of previously created content and using it in brand micro tests.
Mine Your Network
“Utilize the network that you already have at your fingertips.”
Leverage the network you have available to you. According to Madison, it's important to use sites like LinkedIn or other social media accounts to ask questions from your network to help you develop successful strategies.
Invest in a Dedicated Partner Marketer
"Having someone solely dedicated to partner marketing can allow the rest of the partnerships team to thrive.”
Having a marketer is important because it frees channel managers to concentrate their time and energy on recruitment and maintaining existing relationships.
This will help to ensure a smooth flow within all departments and ensure that every aspect of partnerships is well taken care of.
If Possible, Ditch the Budget
“We firmly believe if it works, keep investing.”
There is no designated marketing budget at Chili Piper. As a team, they work to be very clever with this strategy by micro-testing everything that requires money.
For instance, if they need to run paid advertisements and have a $5,000 spend budget, they will test it with three partners, run it, and see how it performs after a few weeks. If it works, they will keep adding money to it.
Key Takeaways: Madison’s Advice for Building Successful Partnerships
“Invest in partnerships.”
“It is the quickest, most cost-effective way to reach your ICP. If you don’t have a partnership team, build one.”
“Create a bullseye list.”
“Don’t go after partners blindly. We have this list and it’s filled with well over 100 different target accounts. I believe it’s not a game about quantity, it’s about quality. So, go after those [partners] very strategically, but always have that list in your back pocket.”
“Be willing to try new things and test.”
“Marketing is one of the most humbling jobs. I always joke that if I believe it’s going to work, it’s not going to. And what worked a year ago won’t work in today’s climate. Be willing to try new things, test, and ask the community for advice, input, etc.”
Make it Happen for You: How to Build a Partner Program like Chili Piper
If you want to grow a partner program like Chili Piper, it is essential that you have the proper tools to structure, automate, and scale your program.
A Partner Relation Management (PRM) platform allows you to:
- Organize your program with tiers
- Coordinate training, onboarding, and certification processes
- Trace leads
- Build a knowledge base to provide instant answers
- Collaborate with partners on a shared pipeline
- Get full visibility over partner activity
- Measure partner performance
- Track commission and payouts