The way businesses structure themselves is changing rapidly. Instead of selling a product or service independently, the new normal is defined by selling- to, through, and with partners. Businesses must have a comprehensive partner program that works well together with them to scale effectively.
Companies use affiliate partners to target a wider audience, referral partners to target qualitative leads, and resellers to increase their sales force. If you want to take this path, here are a few partner programs and strategic alliance examples you can inspire from to build a successful partner ecosystem:
Example of a clear and comprehensive partner program (Image: Pipedrive)
Pipedrive’s partner program is a classic example of a comprehensive partner program. Instead of structuring their program around a single channel, they offer varied partner programs that fit different business models.
For example, their Affiliate marketing program is designed for companies interested in earning revenue by simply directing new customers toward Pipedrive. There is a minimal commitment required for this partner program. Alternatively, they also offer a referral/sales partner program known as the Premier Solution partner and a reseller program or Elite Solution partner.
These solution provider partnerships are ideal for integrators, consultants, and VARs who want to offer value-added services and consulting while marketing and selling Pipedrive actively. All three partner programs are structured with different requirements and perks.
When you create a well-structured partner program, you need a way to monitor which partners are in which program. This is where the need for a partner management system arises. Such a system will help you keep track of the different active programs and the commissions for each of them.
A clear listing of partners' benefits (Image: Aircall)
A partner program works only when both partners benefit from it. For your partner to promote and cross-sell your products and services, they must believe that they stand to benefit just as much as you do. Aircall, for example, clearly lists all the benefits that come from a partnership. Being clear about the immediate and long-term value you offer your partners will help attract better partners and keep your partners engaged.
However, it isn’t enough to simply say that you are invested in your partners, you must show them how invested you are. The best way to do this is with a partner portal. A Partner Portal helps your partners connect with you and gives them the tools they need to learn, sell, and track their progress.
Exclusive benefits for partners (image: Sleeknote)
Ultimately, building strong partnerships come down to financial incentives. What can your partners expect in exchange for generating leads or for closing deals? Whether you’re designing a reseller program or a referral program, you should make it enticing by offering exclusive benefits and generous commissions and discounts.
Sleeknote gives their partners a chance to earn up to 25% in recurring commission. There are, of course, conditions to this—Sleeknote’s partners must first prove they are active, engaged, and bringing in results. When it comes to earning a commission, Sleeknote gives several criteria that must be met. Thus, it is important to track the criteria being met by each partner, their leads generated, and commissions earned. Excel or a CRM is not your friend in this case. It’s essential to have a Partner Management Relationship Solution to automatically track these criteria and stay transparent with your partners.
Partner's success stories add value before engagement (Image: Shopify)
To convince new partners to sign up for your programs, you need to be able to prove that your programs are effective, tried, and tested. You can do this by showcasing success stories that speak of how your current partners have benefited from a relationship with you.
Shopify does this quite well through case studies on their website. It’s comparable to reading customer testimonials before you buy a product online—you always value what the customer (in this case partner) has to say.
The whole goal of this is to entice new partners to sign up. After this, the essential step is to make the process fluid in the partner training and onboarding stages so partners stay engaged and can start selling quickly. A partner management system can help bring your partners effortlessly through the onboarding process.
In the years to come, successful SaaS companies will be those that have been able to build strong partner ecosystems and get the multitudes working for them effectively. The key to achieving this is to grow your partners’ will, knowledge, and capacity to sell your product, generate leads, and increase your customer retention with their additional services. Hence the importance of properly building your partner program, staying connected to your partners, and tracking the results—all of which can only be done through a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform like Kiflo.