April 14, 2022

The Art of Successful SaaS Partner Programs

Discover the art of running a successful SaaS affiliate, referral, reseller, or integration partner program.

saas-partner-programs

Implementing and running successful SaaS Partner Programs truly is an art form. A well-run SaaS partner program can be mutually beneficial and help to empower everyone involved. It can help you scale up your marketing and sales efforts and make valuable connections with like-minded companies in your industry. In this day and age, it’s not enough to just have an amazing SaaS product and niche (which we know you do!); you also have to make sure that people know about it. This is where partner programs come in. 

Decide Which SaaS Partner Programs you Want to Run

You have options when it comes to deciding which type of SaaS Partner Program you would like to implement. Choosing the type of program that best suits your needs, target audience, and business model will set you up for success. There are so many possibilities: a well-known tech writer can share your service on their blog through an affiliate link; a company with a similar target audience can refer customers to you; a reseller can earn a nice discount or commission for closing sales for you; an integration program can allow you to bundle your service with another. There are lots of tangible benefits for each kind of partnership. Consider whether an affiliate program, referral, reseller, or integration partnership is best for you. 

SaaS Affiliate Programs

An affiliate program pays out a percentage of sales generated through an affiliate link. This type of program could be best for B2B SaaS companies that have a large target audience. For SaaS companies with a really narrow target audience, it may be better to invest in other types of partnership programs that focus on a niche rather than casting out a wide net. 

To find potential affiliate partners, such as bloggers, influences, etc., you can type keywords related to your service on Google and connect with top bloggers or websites from the search results. 

SaaS Referral Programs

SaaS referral programs are suitable for pretty much all SaaS companies. With a SaaS referral partner program, less engagement and investment are needed from you to reap the benefits. The earning potential is good, and you don’t have to put in as much work as an integration partnership requires, for example. You can get leads from referral partners, and then your sales team manages the sales cycle. 

SaaS Reseller Programs

SaaS reseller programs may work best for more well-known SaaS companies because reseller partners will be more likely to sell your product if you have an established reputation. This type of partnership is the most “hands-off” because the partner manages the full sales cycle. 

SaaS Integration Programs

Also known as technology partner programs, a SaaS integration program is a great way to provide more value, generate leads, and increase customer loyalty. It does take an investment of time and resources in order to ensure success, but the payoff can be immense. Learn more about SaaS Integration Programs by reading about how to implement successful technology partner programs here. 

Set up Requirements and Benefits

The way you choose to structure your SaaS partner program is totally up to you and your needs! You can create tiers based on levels of partner engagement, which offers a clear path for partner advancement. When you create the tiers and their associated requirements and benefits, make sure you are structuring the programs in a way that is consistent and simple. List out the requirements of each kind of partner and the set commission accordingly. Often 20% for SaaS sales from a referral is a standard, such as in this example from Klaviyo:

Klaviyo Partners
Klaviyo's partner tiers focus on email marketing services on behalf of mutual customers, which may include (but are not limited to) strategic guidance, technical support, and implementation between tiers.

Decide Which Companies you Want to Partner With

For an accomplished SaaS partner program, you’ll want to make sure that you select the right companies to build sound partnerships with. Consider your target audience as well as the support from upper management within your potential partner company in order to make the right decision.  

Work with Companies that Have a Similar Target Audience

Partner with companies that have a similar target audience to your own in order to ensure that there is enough overlap to make the partnership beneficial. You can assess these convergences through account mapping via Crossbeam. 

Try to Get Support from Upper Management

Make sure you gain support from upper management within your potential partners. This will ensure that the sales and marketing teams commit to selling your product. If upper management is aligned with the goals of the partnership, it will motivate them to make sure that goals are met. 

Build Successful Collaboration

Collaboration is key in crafting an artful and seamless SaaS partnership program. You are building a strategic alliance with your partner, and hopefully, both of you are in it for the long haul! Strong collaboration can cement your partnership and lay the groundwork for mutual growth. 

Plan with the Sales Team

You’ll want to make sure you have the ear of your partner’s sales team. Through regular engagements, try to get your product into their objectives. Help them understand how your partnership can help them meet their goals too. Another option is to enlist someone on their sales team to be specifically responsible for selling your product. If you go this route, make regular follow-ups to ensure progress. 

Make a Plan with the Marketing Team

Brainstorm with your SaaS partner’s marketing team to come up with creative ways to co-market. Can they write an article about your product on their blog? Send an email campaign? Do they have marketing documents to share in their branding or yours? Consider how you can leverage your marketing strengths and theirs to make the most of your collaboration. 

Track and Measure the Success of Your SaaS Partner Program

Your SaaS partner program can be a beautiful dance—a sight to behold and perfectly on beat. You’ll need to track and measure your success to avoid stepping on one another’s toes on the dance floor. That’s to say, the more you measure and check in about your progress, the more you’ll be able to respond to one another’s unique rhythm and dance in harmony!

Identify Your Best Partners and Focus More on Those Profiles

Every partnership is created differently. Some SaaS partners will be more engaged and successful, while others may underperform. Tracking partner performance individually with help you see what partners to invest more in to increase the ROI of your program

Measure the Success of Your Program and Improve

To get more specific about this measurement, calculating how many deals are created, how many leads are generated, and the costs associated with the program will help you know if a particular sales channel is more promising than others, and ultimately, help you know where to invest more time and energy. A great way to measure the success of your program is to use PRM software. Kiflo has a customizable partner portal that makes measuring the progress of your SaaS partner program easy.

Check out These Examples of Good SaaS Partner Programs: 

Feeling curious about how companies have implemented successful SaaS partner programs? Check out these four examples and get inspired!

Pipedrive

Pipedrive offers a comprehensive partner program that can suit a variety of business models. 

Pipedrive Partner Program
Pipedrive breaks down the rewards and benefits for their partner tiers.

Aircall

In Aircall's partner program, the valuable benefits of partnering with them are clearly explained.

Aircall Partner Program
Aircall explains the types of partners in their program and their benefits.

Sleeknote

Sleeknote creates financial incentives with the opportunity to earn up to 25% in commissions

Sleeknote Partner Tiers
Sleeknote uses simple yet appealing partner program tiers.

Shopify

Shopify has a great inbound partner page to highlight success stories and attract new partners. 

Shopify Partners
Screenshot of Shopify's partner page immediately explaining some of the major benefits of joining their program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a SaaS Partner Program?

A SaaS Partner program is a partnership between two SaaS companies. It can be a referral, affiliate, reseller, or integration partnership.

How do I start a SaaS Partner Program?

To start a SaaS partner program, first decide which type of partner program best fits your needs and goals. Then, set up the structure of your program including the requirements and compensation structure, find qualified partners, focus on collaboration, and track and measure the success of your program.

How do you start a SaaS Referral Partner Program?

Find a suitable partner company for your SaaS referral partner program. Your partner will generate leads for you, and you will manage the sales cycle.

Where can you find the best tips for SaaS Partner Programs?

You can make a Google search, look on message boards, or read industry blogs, such as Kiflo's.

Are SaaS Partner Programs worth it?

A SaaS Partner Program can help increase your revenue and brand awareness. Consider how much you want to invest in your partner program. For example, if you prefer to manage the entire sales cycle in-house, a SaaS Referral Partner Program may be best for you.

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