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The Art of Building Successful SaaS Partner Programs

Learn how to create and run a successful SaaS affiliate, referral, reseller, or integration partner program.
How to Build Successful SaaS Partner Programs
Published on
April 14, 2022


The art of implementing and sustaining successful SaaS Partner Programs is a multifaceted venture that requires finesse, strategy, and a deep understanding of the intricate dynamics of the SaaS industry.

A meticulously crafted SaaS partner program has the potential to deliver substantial benefits to all parties involved, fostering a cooperative relationship that empowers businesses on both sides. It serves as a potent catalyst for amplifying your marketing and sales efforts, propelling your SaaS product into wider visibility and relevance. In an era where competition in the SaaS space is fierce, having an exceptional product alone no longer guarantees success; it's equally crucial to ensure that your target audience is not just aware of your offering but also actively engaged with it. This is precisely where partner programs shine as indispensable tools in your arsenal.

Such programs function as bridges, connecting your brand with like-minded customers and companies operating within your niche or industry. They become pipelines for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and mutual growth. Through strategic partnerships, you gain access to new channels and audiences that might have otherwise remained beyond your reach. These partnerships are founded on shared goals, values, and a commitment to delivering value to end-users.

With that being said, let us walk you through and provide valuable insights and practical tips to help you build and nurture a successful SaaS partner program for your business.

What is a SaaS Partner Program?

A SaaS partner program is a collaborative team effort where a Software as a Service (SaaS) company cooperates with other businesses in the same industry to spread the word about and sell their SaaS product. This joint effort centers around forming smart alliances and friendly partnerships to make the most of each other's strengths and resources.

Within this program, the SaaS company takes on the role of a supportive coach. They offer training sessions, helpful resources, and ongoing assistance to their partner companies. In return, these partners become enthusiastic brand ambassadors, sharing and selling the SaaS product to their own circle of customers.

The ultimate aim is to expand the product's presence in the market. It's about creating more avenues for selling it and forming a partnership that's beneficial for everyone involved. This friendly partnership is a win-win scenario where each party sees their business grow and thrive. So, it's not just about selling a product; it's about creating a network of support and collaboration that fuels growth for all.

Different Types of SaaS Partnership Programs

When it comes to deciding, you have several options available regarding 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.

SaaS Affiliate Programs

An affiliate program operates by rewarding individuals or businesses with a portion of the sales proceeds that originate from the use of a unique affiliate link they provide. This approach can be particularly advantageous for B2B SaaS companies that boast a broad and expansive target audience. It essentially allows them to tap into a wide pool of potential partners.

However, for SaaS companies with a more specialized or niche target audience, the affiliate model might not be the most effective choice. In such cases, it's often wiser to allocate resources to other types of partnership programs that are finely tuned to address the specific needs and interests of a more focused demographic rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach.

To identify potential affiliate partners, like bloggers, influencers, and other content creators, you can employ a straightforward but effective strategy. Start by conducting keyword searches related to your SaaS service on popular search engines like Google. This will provide a list of websites, blogs, and platforms that are prominently associated with your search. From there, you can reach out to the top-ranking bloggers and websites that appear in the search results, as they are likely to have a sizable and engaged audience that aligns with your target market.

SaaS Referral Programs

SaaS referral programs represent a versatile and accessible option that can benefit nearly all SaaS companies, regardless of their size or target audience. These programs offer an attractive balance between effort and reward, requiring less engagement and investment on your part while still delivering substantial benefits.

One of the standout advantages of SaaS referral partner programs is their favorable earning potential. By collaborating with referral partners, you can tap into their networks and benefit from the trust they've built with their audience. This trust translates into valuable leads that are more likely to convert into customers. Essentially, your referral partners help you bridge the gap between potential customers and your SaaS solution, making it a highly efficient way to grow your user base.

Furthermore, compared to other partnership models, like integration partnerships that demand significant technical integration efforts, referral programs are relatively straightforward to set up and manage. You don't have to dedicate extensive resources or navigate complex technical challenges. Instead, the focus is on nurturing relationships with your referral partners and ensuring they have the tools and incentives they need to promote your SaaS product effectively.

SaaS Reseller Programs

SaaS reseller programs often find their ideal fit within the realm of well-established SaaS companies, primarily owing to the essential advantages of brand recognition and reputation. When you've already established a prominent presence in your industry, reseller partners are naturally more inclined to promote and sell your product. Your reputation serves as a testament to the quality and reliability of your SaaS offering, making it an attractive proposition for resellers seeking to align themselves with trusted brands.

What sets the SaaS reseller model apart is its hands-off nature. In this type of partnership, the reseller takes on the role of managing the entire sales cycle. This means that your SaaS company can essentially take a step back and entrust the reseller partners with the responsibility of marketing, selling, and supporting your product to end customers. It's a relatively low-touch arrangement from your perspective, freeing up your internal resources to focus on other strategic initiatives and product development.

This level of autonomy afforded to reseller partners can be particularly advantageous in scaling your market reach and sales efforts. Resellers often have their own established customer base and sales channels, and they are well-equipped to tailor their approach to fit the unique needs and preferences of their clientele. This, in turn, can result in increased sales and market penetration, all without requiring the same level of direct involvement that other partnership models might necessitate.

SaaS Integration Programs

A SaaS integration program also referred to as a technology partner program, offers a powerful avenue to enhance the value you provide to your customers, generate valuable leads, and foster stronger customer loyalty. While it does demand a significant investment in terms of time and resources, the potential rewards and benefits are substantial.

At its core, a SaaS integration program involves collaborating with other technology providers, typically those whose solutions complement or seamlessly integrate with your own SaaS offering. By forging these strategic alliances, you can offer a more comprehensive and versatile solution to your customers. This means that your customers can enjoy a more holistic and efficient experience, solving multiple pain points with a single, integrated solution.

One of the key advantages of this approach is its potential to generate high-quality leads. When your product integrates seamlessly with other widely used tools or platforms, it becomes a more attractive proposition for potential customers. Moreover, the act of integrating your SaaS solution with other technologies can significantly enhance customer loyalty.

While implementing a successful SaaS integration program requires an investment of time, effort, and resources, the potential rewards are immense. It's a strategic initiative that positions your SaaS company at the forefront of innovation and customer-centricity.

To delve deeper into the world of SaaS integration programs and discover how to implement successful technology partner initiatives, explore our comprehensive blog guide.

Strategies for Building A SaaS Partner Program

In this section, we'll uncover game-changing tips to create a successful SaaS partner program. Whether you're an innovative SaaS company craving wider horizons or a business eager to fortify your software offerings, we've got you covered.

Find the Right Partners

Building a successful SaaS partner program isn't easy. So, to kick-start your partner program, it's essential to identify your target audience and market segment. To do this, you must engage in extensive research to uncover potential partners operating within your desired market. Look for companies with proven expertise, solid reputation, and shared values. Then, evaluate partners based on their track record, existing customer base, and alignment with your SaaS product. It's important to choose partners who not only complement your strengths but also bring additional value to the partnership.

Onboarding and Training

Once you've identified the right partners, a smooth and effective onboarding process sets the stage for partners to excel. Develop a streamlined onboarding experience that guides partners through the necessary steps to get started quickly. You'll want to provide comprehensive training materials that are user-friendly and tailored specifically to your SaaS product.

If possible, conduct regular training sessions, webinars, or workshops to keep partners informed about new features, industry trends, and effective selling techniques. Invest in their success, and you'll reap the rewards of a well-equipped and motivated partner network.

Craft a Kick-ass Partner Program Agreement

An exceptional partner program agreement sets the tone for a successful and mutually beneficial partnership. Create a well-crafted agreement that outlines the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of both parties. Make sure the agreement is clear, concise, and legally sound. Include sections that cover important aspects such as:

  • the scope of the partnership
  • revenue sharing
  • intellectual property rights
  • confidentiality
  • termination clauses
  • dispute resolution mechanism

Infuse the agreement with your brand's voice and personality to make it engaging and memorable. A kick-ass partner program agreement not only protects both parties' interests but also establishes a strong foundation of trust and collaboration.

Structure your 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% of SaaS sales from a referral is a standard, such as in this example from Klaviyo:

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.

Setting up customized incentives for your SaaS partner program has many benefits, including increased partner engagement, improved sales performance, and strong collaborative relationships.

A good incentive program can not only attract high-quality partners but also motivate them to nurture their customer base and reduce churn. Your incentive structure can be a lighthouse, beckoning potential partners to the abundant shores of your partner program.

In other words, it’s one way to attract SaaS partners that will help take your revenue to new heights.

Nurture Your SaaS Partner Ecosystem

Building a successful SaaS partner ecosystem requires ongoing effort and attention. Continuously nurture your partner relationships by providing regular support, resources, and opportunities for growth. Foster a sense of community by organizing partner events, workshops, and networking sessions where partners can connect, share insights, and learn from each other.

Encourage collaboration between partners to leverage their collective knowledge and expertise. Regularly communicate updates, new product features, and market trends to keep partners engaged and informed. Consider implementing a partner success program that recognizes and rewards top-performing partners, motivating them to excel and drive mutual success.

By nurturing your SaaS partner ecosystem, you create a dynamic network of partners who are invested in your success and committed to promoting your product.

Track and Measure the Success of Your SaaS Partner Program

Imagine your SaaS partner program as an elegant and harmonious dance, a mesmerizing performance where every step is executed with precision, and each partner moves in perfect synchronization. To maintain this graceful dance, it's crucial to constantly track and measure your success. Think of it as a way to ensure that you and your partners never accidentally step on each other's toes on the dance floor of collaboration.

By monitoring key metrics and performance indicators, you gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of your partner program. You can identify areas where improvements are needed, celebrate your achievements, and fine-tune your steps to create a truly stunning partnership dance. In this dance of collaboration, success is not just about the individual moves but about how well you and your partners complement each other's strengths and create a great performance that leaves everyone in awe.

So, remember, the success of your SaaS partner program is like a beautifully choreographed dance—it requires continuous monitoring, adaptation, and a keen sense of rhythm to ensure that you and your partners move in perfect harmony, creating a spectacle that dazzles and delights.

Tips to Strengthen Your SaaS Partner Program

Unlocking the full potential of your partner programs is within your reach, and building a successful SaaS partner program is the first step. In this section, we'll provide you with extra valuable tips and strategies to strengthen your partnership initiatives that are often overlooked.

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 or Reveal.

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 within your Saas partner program.

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. This all starts with communication. Set expectations early on, and check in often with your partner. Regularly share updates, feedback, and insights. This will help them feel valued and trusted as a collaborator. And take the time to discover what motivates them—know what makes them tick! Keep communication lines open to resolve any issues promptly and proactively.

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.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Sleeknote uses simple yet appealing partner program tiers.

Sleeknote uses simple yet appealing partner program tiers.


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

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


Now that you've had a glimpse of various program examples, it's time to deliberate on which program aligns best with your company's unique needs and goals. The possibilities within a SaaS Partner Program are like a canvas waiting for your creative strokes. This canvas, when used thoughtfully, can help you paint a vibrant picture of market expansion, unlocked opportunities, and a strategic foothold in today's fiercely competitive landscape.

It brings to mind the age-old wisdom encapsulated in the proverb, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." We firmly believe that a well-executed SaaS Partner Program embodies the essence of going far while moving swiftly. It's your vehicle to journey beyond the horizon, and it's designed to accelerate your progress.

But, as with any expedition, it requires the right tools and strategies to ensure a successful voyage. The beauty lies in the fact that you don't have to navigate this path alone. With the right partners, resources, and methodologies in place, you're poised to embark on a journey that promises not only speed but endurance, not only individual strides but collective leaps.

As you move forward in crafting your SaaS partner program, remember that it's not just about making strides; it's about building lasting partnerships that enable you to cover ground efficiently and effectively. It's about fostering connections that open doors to new horizons, where the possibilities are as vast as your imagination. So, equip yourself with the right tools, nurture the right relationships, and embrace the journey towards building a successful SaaS partner program with enthusiasm and determination.

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