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4 Examples You Can Use to Build the Perfect SaaS Partner Program

Discover these SaaS partner programs and strategic alliance examples you can inspire from to build a successful partner ecosystem.
Build the Perfect SaaS Partner Program With These 4 Examples
Published on
November 4, 2020


In the rapidly evolving landscape of modern business, the traditional model of selling products or services independently has given way to a more collaborative approach. Now, businesses are increasingly focused on selling not just to their customers but also through and with partners. This shift in approach requires the development of robust SaaS partner programs that can seamlessly integrate with a company's objectives and facilitate effective scalability.

SaaS partner programs play a pivotal role in this new paradigm. They enable companies to leverage the strengths of various types of partners. Affiliate partners help businesses reach a broader and more diverse customer base by tapping into their established networks and audiences. Referral partners, on the other hand, provide access to high-quality leads, ensuring a more targeted and potentially higher-converting customer pool. Additionally, resellers function as an extension of the company's sales force, aiding in expanding the reach of products and services to new customers.

SaaS partner programs are instrumental in promoting and distributing products effectively. Partners can assist in marketing and selling SaaS products to their own customer bases, thereby increasing the product's visibility and driving new customers to the SaaS company. This collaborative approach not only broadens the customer base but also enhances the potential for exponential growth.

In essence, in today's dynamic business environment, SaaS partner programs are essential for fostering mutually beneficial relationships that enable businesses to scale efficiently, tap into new markets, and enhance their products and customer support services. By strategically aligning with various partners, companies can thrive in the ever-changing landscape of the modern business world.

What is a good partner program?

A partner program is a structured collaboration between organizations or individuals with clear, mutually beneficial objectives. It involves open communication, defined roles and responsibilities, and the provision of support and resources. Performance metrics and incentives help measure and motivate success, while flexibility allows for adaptation to changing circumstances. Legal agreements, transparent financial arrangements, and conflict resolution processes establish trust and ensure ethical conduct.

Feedback mechanisms and a long-term focus encourage ongoing improvement in the program's effectiveness. Ultimately, the specifics of a good partner program will depend on the nature of the partnership and the goals it aims to achieve. Tailoring the program to suit the needs and objectives of all parties involved is essential for its success.

How do you structure a partner program?

Structuring an effective SaaS partner program is essential for achieving your business objectives and expanding the reach of your product. This process involves several key steps and considerations. First, it's crucial to define your program's objectives and align them with your overall business strategy. Whether you aim to increase revenue, grow your customer base, or enhance product reach, your strategy should reflect these goals.

Segmenting your partners and creating specific SaaS partner programs for different types of collaborators, such as affiliates and resellers, is the next step. Each program should have unique incentives and support structures tailored to the partner's role. Compensation structures should be well-defined, including commission-based incentives for affiliates and margin-sharing for resellers. To support your partners effectively, provide them with marketing materials, product information, and sales training.

Effective technology integration ensures seamless cooperation between your SaaS platform and partner systems. This might involve providing APIs or technical support for integration efforts. Implementing tracking mechanisms and analytics allows you to monitor partner performance and assess the success of your SaaS partner programs continually. Open communication channels and collaboration with partners are essential to building strong relationships and alignment.

Additionally, consider incorporating incentive programs, establishing legal agreements, offering customer support and training, and encouraging partner feedback for ongoing improvement. As your SaaS business grows, scale your partner program accordingly by onboarding new partners and exploring additional affiliate and reseller opportunities. Continuously measure program performance through key performance indicators and data analytics to evaluate its impact on your product's success.

How to build the Best channel SaaS partnership programs?

A lot of companies have excelled in creating great and creative SaaS partner programs for their users. Below we will look at 4 examples that you can use to structure the perfect partner program for you and your business.

Create a comprehensive Partner Program like Pipedrive

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.

Show them the benefits they’ll get from partnering with you like Aircall

A clear listing of partners' benefits (Image: Aircall)

A successful partner program thrives on mutual benefits. It's not merely about one party gaining an advantage while the other loses out; both partners must perceive substantial advantages in order for the collaboration to flourish. Consider the example of Aircall, a company that exemplifies this principle by transparently identifying the benefits associated with their partnerships. Clarity regarding both the immediate and long-term value that you bring to your partners is pivotal in attracting high-quality collaborators and sustaining their active engagement.

Nevertheless, it's insufficient to profess your commitment to your partners merely; you must actively demonstrate your dedication. One highly effective method for achieving this is by implementing a partner portal. A Partner Portal serves as a central hub where your partners can connect with your organization. Beyond mere connectivity, it equips them with essential tools and resources necessary for learning about your products and services, effectively promoting them, and tracking their progress. In essence, it's a tangible manifestation of your investment in their success.

Through the partner portal, partners gain access to a wealth of information, training materials, marketing collateral, and support resources. This not only empowers them to understand better and represent your offerings but also fosters a sense of support and partnership. By providing such a resource, you solidify your commitment to your partners' growth and success, demonstrating that your partner program is more than just words—it's a tangible and valuable asset in their journey to mutual success.

Offer recurring and generous commissions like Sleeknote

Exclusive benefits for partners (image: Sleeknote)

At the heart of forging robust partnerships lies a critical factor: financial incentives. Partnerships must offer clear and enticing rewards to motivate collaborators to generate leads or close deals. Whether you're conceptualizing a reseller program or a referral program, the key is to make participation appealing by providing exclusive benefits, generous commissions, and attractive discounts.

An exemplary case is Sleeknote, which attracts its partners with the opportunity to earn up to a substantial 25% in recurring commissions. However, these benefits are not handed out arbitrarily. Sleeknote wisely requires its partners to demonstrate their commitment by remaining active, engaged, and delivering tangible results. To ensure partners meet the criteria for commission eligibility, Sleeknote establishes specific benchmarks and requirements. Consequently, tracking the fulfillment of these criteria, monitoring the leads generated, and calculating the earned commissions becomes paramount. Here, conventional tools like Excel or customer relationship management (CRM) systems may fall short. Hence, adopting a robust Partner Management Relationship Solution becomes essential to track these criteria and maintain transparency in partner relations effortlessly.

Such a solution not only simplifies the administrative tasks but also ensures trust and accountability among partners. It streamlines the process of verifying compliance with program criteria and automatically communicates earned commissions to partners. This level of transparency not only incentivizes partners to meet their obligations but also reinforces the perception that your organization is committed to fair and equitable partnerships. Ultimately, it makes it certain that financial incentives are not just a promise but a tangible reality in your partner program, driving mutual success.

Market your Partnerships like Shopify

Partner's success stories add value before engagement (Image: Shopify)

To successfully attract new partners to your programs, you must substantiate the effectiveness and reliability of your offerings. One compelling way to achieve this is by spotlighting success stories that vividly illustrate the tangible benefits current partners have derived from their association with your organization. This is akin to perusing customer testimonials before making an online purchase – you inherently place value on the firsthand experiences of those who have already engaged with the product or service.

Shopify serves as a noteworthy example of this strategy's effective implementation. Through the use of comprehensive case studies featured on their website, Shopify allows prospective partners to delve into real-world examples of how existing partners have thrived as a result of their collaboration. These case studies provide an invaluable window into the potential benefits awaiting new partners, compelling them to consider joining the ecosystem seriously.

Enticing new partners is just the initial step. Once you've piqued their interest, the next crucial phase is to ensure a seamless transition into partner training and onboarding. This process must be designed to keep partners engaged and equip them with the knowledge and tools necessary to commence selling promptly. A sophisticated partner management system proves invaluable in this regard, as it can streamline the onboarding journey, guiding partners through the necessary steps with ease. Such a system not only simplifies administrative processes but also ensures that partners are fully prepared to contribute effectively to your programs from day one. In essence, it transforms what could be a daunting and time-consuming process into a smooth and efficient experience, enhancing partner satisfaction and program effectiveness.

PRM Platform: Essential To the Success of Your SaaS Partner Program

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.

Kiflo streamlines each stage of your partnership's lifecycle, aiding in easily building, tracking, and scaling multiple SaaS partner programs simultaneously. In doing so, Kiflo allows you to build and maintain a healthy partnership ecosystem, focusing on crafting a thriving and enduring partner program.

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