July 13, 2022

How Lokalise Built a Successful Partner Program From Scratch

Agnese Kalnina, Lokalise’s Business Development & Partnerships Team Lead, explains how they built and grew their partner program.

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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 Agnese Kalnina, Business Development & Partnerships Team Lead for Lokalise.

Lokalise is one of the world's largest continuous localization and translation management platforms. It provides translation service and support solutions to developers, designers, translators, and project and localization managers.

agnese-lokalise
Agnese Kalnina, Business Development & Partnerships Team Lead for Lokalise.

Agnese Kalnina, who began as a solo partnership manager and is now working with a team of five, describes the experiment of creating the Lokalise partner program as a protracted exploratory process that gave her complete creative freedom in all areas, from formulating strategies and tracking KPIs to locating, managing, and engaging partners.

Read the following interview to discover how Lokalise built such a thriving technology partner program. Take advantage of the advice coming from Agnese herself:

How did Lokalise Start a Partner Program?

What did it take for Lokalise to build such an outstanding technology partner program?

An old proverb by an unknown author states, “If you explore and venture into the unknown, you will find something great.” And indeed Lokalise found greatness.

One might assume that Lokalise created its partner program with a lot of structure and planning, but that is not the case. The process by which the cloud software platform entered partnerships began as a line of inquiry. Agnese explains:

"In the company's maturity stage, it all started like a very big experiment. From the leadership, there wasn't necessarily goal-setting for one particular type of partnership. It was just like, you know, ‘Go out there, try some things, come back to us with some findings, and then we'll see how it goes.’" 

Fortunately, only a few of their competitors had partnerships. Therefore it was easier for them to test different levels, partner types, and business models before deciding which was worthwhile for scaling their efforts.

They did, however, discover an intriguing fact in their testing. Partners in their industry were not particularly driven by monetary rewards, but rather by the benefit of gaining new customers or new business partnerships, which worked well in their favor.

What Does Lokalise Look For in a Partner?

With their research under their belt, Lokalise experimented with partnerships that have now evolved into distinct agency categories. From language service providers who are highly specialized in their industry to digital and development agencies, they have now branched out into a new direction of tech partner integration, which has grown to be a significant part of their strategy.

What is also in the works for Lokalise is a marketplace or open platform that will enable partners to develop their integrations into Lokalise.

Lokalise prioritizes partners based on the following key criteria: 

  • The partners should be active in the localization industry.

  • The partners should have an active clientele.

  • The partners should have joint customers who would also be interested in Lokalise.

What are Lokalise’s Recruitment and Onboarding Strategies?

Lokalise has stepped into a game-changing strategy for recruiting its partners. They went from having a dedicated team of individuals who all work manually to find partners to having a sales development representative who books several qualified leads in a day. Who, in Agnese’s words, has been a real-life changer: 

“Our sales development representative…his only job is to get new partnership meetings. I can brag, last month he booked more than 20 meetings. Uh, wow! One person booked more than 20 meetings. I am always mind-blown about this. I think my team before would need like two, three months to actually get the same result. This is really a game changer. How we recruit partners is really at scale now.”

Once a partner accepts and begins their onboarding process, Lokalise uses various tech training materials to stay at the forefront of their partner's minds. However, with everything mentioned throughout this phase, one thing that remains a top priority is open communication with partners from the beginning of the partnership. 

Partner Training

Lokalise tailors its partner training based on the various levels of partners and the kinds of partners they are.

Included in this training:

  • Product development. This is in-depth training about Lokalise and its capabilities, allowing partners to determine if it’s a fit for their customers. 

  • Commercial training. This is for partners to know how products are priced, how to sell the features, and how to articulate the product’s value. This can also help them determine whether a product is right for their customer base. 

  • Communication channels. Lokalise prefers to keep things simple by using just one primary point of contact, which is the partnership manager.

Co-marketing

In addition to training, Lokalise plans any co-marketing events with their new partners. Co-marketing strategies are an especially great benefit for Lokalise’s partners who require tech integration. To accomplish this, they connect with their partners' respective teams and see what the other team is open to and can do. Additionally, during this process, they give partners access to resources that will help keep them engaged over time and maintain open lines of communication.

Meeting Sales Team 

Lokalise meets with the sales teams of the respective partners to deliver an introduction that includes a demo of their product. They also use this time to address any questions they may have. This can assist in building a long and lasting partnership and ensure open and honest communication between the teams.

How Does Lokalise Nurture Partner Engagement?

Meeting Up With Partners

Meeting their partners regularly—monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly—is one way Lokalise maintains partner engagement. Depending on the different levels of partners, these meetings are a joint activity.

For example, you might meet monthly with the first tier, bi-monthly with the second tier, and quarterly with the third tier. 

Reminding both teams of the objectives and standards established at the outset of the partnership—which is essential for future success—can be accomplished by holding these meetings regularly.

Feedback From Partners

At Lokalise, feedback sessions help with setting the partnership's goals and the strategies for achieving them. This also gives them the opportunity to address any problems that might arise with the aforementioned expectations while being completely transparent about how to proceed.

The team can also work more effectively with the partner's sales team by gathering internal feedback from Lokalise partner managers.

For joint opportunities, feedback can help with:

  • Positive or negative feedback about partners

  • General marketing activities that are aligned with the partnership

  • How willing partners are to engage in collaborative opportunities

This in turn enables partnerships to gain from improved alignments and understanding.

Lokalise also uses resources like Crossbeam to encourage engagement. A platform that can manage partner relationships by assisting in the development of scalable partnerships and identifying new, qualified leads for the ecosystem.

How Does Lokalise Ensure Departmental Alignment?

Simply put, get the receipts. As Agnese states: 

“That's why I tell my team that if you have a new idea or new partnership program, before you involve people from other departments, do your research.“ 

Before presenting an idea or a project, it's crucial, especially in a thriving company like Lokalise, to do your own research on how it will scale or benefit the business.

Agnese explains that, once you have done proper research on how each idea will benefit the company, you will be much more persuasive in conversation and be able to save a lot of time as a result. Each study should outline the team members' responsibilities, costs, and other factors.

Another way Lokalise ensures departmental alignment is through OKRs.

Sometimes there is a lot going on in partnerships, and it is difficult to avoid the amount of activity taking place in the industry. We all know that when working in large or even small teams, we sometimes tend to forget about the key points that need to be prioritized.

This is where OKRs come in.

Each department has its own set of OKRs, which can also help the leadership team achieve its goals as the business expands.

OKR examples for Lokalise include the following:

  • Signals from the partner platform that will assist in directing more efforts toward app integration partners

  • Revenue goals

  • Any partner-related activities that suggest additional efforts should be directed there

Agnese’s Advice to Build and Scale Successful Partner Programs

“Do your homework.”

Keep in mind that the foundation of any new project or product is research and testing.

Any project or product you might need additional support for, whether financial or not, should be thoroughly tested.

This will assist your team and leaders in fully understanding your procedures, discussing results, providing feedback, and advancing your work.

“Be patient.”

A partnership is a marathon that needs to be carefully executed, not a sprint.

Remember that partners are more than just a deal. Partnerships are living systems that gradually increase in potential. The relationship gives the parties involved an option for the future, opening up new doors and unexpected opportunities in addition to motivations for starting a relationship. This takes time, so always be patient.

“Find the right experts for your team; if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no.”

Finding the right team members can help you execute your strategies more quickly, make better decisions, solve more complex problems, and do more to enhance creativity. 

Building the right team also increases productivity and morale; well-functioning teams can outperform individuals and even other types of working groups. These folks should be experts in their field and have experience that directly relates to your goals. 

“Let go of partners who are not a good fit.”

If you want to save time and money, stay true to your Ideal Partner Persona (IPP). Identify those partners who adhere to your partner-specific objectives. This will also change how you intend to find and track the best partner candidates. By staying true to this, you will be able to align your business in favor of valuable partners and help set recruitment goals.

Make it Happen for You: How to Grow a Partner Program Like Lokalise

If you want to grow a partner program like Lokalise, 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

Ready to Scale Your Partnership Revenue?

Discover Kiflo, the most affordable PRM on the market, specifically designed to help SMBs build, scale, manage and grow partner revenue.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Lokalise?

Lokalise is a localization and translation management platform for agile teams. They provide solutions to developers, designers, translators, project managers, and localization managers.

What services does Lokalise offer?

Lokalise offers a translation management system (TMS) that helps teams with collaborative translation, localization workflow management, localization process automation, translation quality assurance, translation support, and security.

Does Lokalise have a partner program?

Yes, Lokalise has a partner program that allows you to distinguish yourself from the competition while delivering excellent results for your clients and expanding service offerings.

What kind of partners does Lokalise have?

Lokalise partners include digital and development agencies, language service providers, and integration and technology partners.

How to apply to Lokalise’s partner program?

You can apply to Lokalise’s partner program by filling out the application on their partnerships webpage at https://lokalise.com/partners.

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