Resellers and partners today have more choices than ever before when it comes to choosing which vendors to partner with. Because of this, SaaS companies need to constantly innovate and keep their finger on the pulse of what their ideal partners are looking for in a vendor.

In a previous post, we looked at three main questions potential partners are likely to ask when deciding whether or not they’d like to become part of your SaaS partner ecosystem. We’ve also written about the different types of SaaS partnership models that attract modern resellers, influencers, and affiliates. Today, we’re going to focus on five key strategies you can employ to ensure that you consistently drive value to your SaaS partner ecosystem.

1. Automate account mapping through a Partner Ecosystem Platform.

Account mapping is a foundational step in any successful partnership strategy. Simply put, account mapping is the practice of comparing your leads, opportunities, and customers against a partner’s leads, opportunities, and customers. This allows you to quickly spot common targets or prospects and then share data to accelerate deals and sales.

Gone are the days when a manual spreadsheet was the best way to carry out account mapping; an account mapping platform makes for a much more effective and efficient process. By using a secure account mapping platform – or Partner Ecosystem Platform (PEP) – to automate account mapping, your sales reps can cruise partner data from their dashboards and proactively and strategically utilize that data to pull in relevant partner sales teams to co-sell and close deals. In this way, an account mapping platform allows you to directly connect and align your sales teams with your partners’ sales teams – no Partner Manager middleman required.

The benefits of automated account mapping through a PEP don’t end with deal acceleration and co-selling opportunities. For example, should you and a new partner find that you already have a high number of common customers, it could indicate a timely opportunity to drive value to your SaaS partner ecosystem by building a custom tech integration or co-innovating on a new product. You’ll also be able to track data relating to partner-influenced revenue, proactively take action to retain customers who are likely to churn, and more.

2. Use incentive funds to drive value to your SaaS partner ecosystem.

Partner incentive funds help you drive value to your ecosystem by driving sales, enabling co-innovation, increasing partner retention, and ultimately maximizing revenue. Essentially, incentive funds represent co-investment between a vendor and a partner or reseller, but this investment can take the shape of a range of different types of incentive program models:

This WorkSpan article outlines eight main forms of incentive funds well-suited to SaaS partner ecosystems:

1. Market Development Funds: This model sees you reimbursing partners for carrying out training, marketing, or sales activities designed to bring in more deals and sales.

2. Sales Campaign Funds: This incentive strategy sees your own team devising a sales campaign on behalf of your partners and resellers, and then leaving the execution to them.

3. Outcome-Based Funds: Here you reward partners with payouts based on the achievement of set milestones.

4. Partner Rebate Funds: Rebate programs encourage partners and resellers to push your product because every time they close a deal, they receive a percentage of the sale price back.

5. Lifecycle Funds: Lifecycle Funds aim to incentivize partners to drive value for your customers throughout the entire lifecycle, up to and including renewal.

6. Funded Heads: On this model, vendors fund the cost of an employee or team dedicated to supporting their product inside the partner organization. 

7. Partner Infrastructure Funds: This incentive model involves sponsoring your partners’ infrastructure investments to support shared go-to-market activities that result in a complete, holistic customer experience.  

8. Partner Enablement: Partner Enablement funds go towards partner training and certification in your product.

3. Ensure that your partners are properly enabled to sell effectively.

Your partners need to be properly enabled to accurately position your product and brand, effectively sell your product, co-sell alongside your internal team, and retain customers through ongoing onboarding, customer training, and tech support activities.

In this SaaS Sales article, Alana Kadden Ballon recommends using the following to enable partners to convert leads into customers:

●  Ongoing training sessions

●  Labs

●  Partner-specific marketing materials

●  The opportunity to shadow authorized sales calls

4. Remove conflict between your internal sales team and your partners.

Ballon goes on to explain that sometimes, especially at the beginning of a new partnership, conflict can crop up between your internal sales team and your partner’s sales team. This is because internal teams often stand to make more per deal when selling directly, rather than via a partner. From the partner’s point of view, they likely have a range of similar products from a range of vendors to choose from – so why should they push yours?

“Determine with your partners and internally how you will drive success with sales groups,” says Ballon. “If possible, provide funding to incent partner sellers at the beginning of the relationship. Explore providing direct sellers with compensation neutrality or a spot payment if they work partner deals.”

5. Measure results and adjust your recommendations and strategies accordingly.

It’s impossible to gauge the success of your SaaS partner ecosystem – and adjust your strategy as necessary – without tracking the right metrics and results. Define which metric sets you will track upfront, and at which intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly).

Ballon recommends looking at activity as a leading indicator. “[The] number of prospective partner meetings, partner sourced deals (number of and value), joint-partner events, and formal partnership agreements signed are all great metrics. Use that insight to create quarterly reviews with recommendations on small adjustments the team can make.”

A private, commerce-enabled marketplace drives value to your SaaS partner ecosystem by creating a new revenue channel where partners and resellers can bundle their services with your product and co-sell with your team inside a shared, secure Customer Portal. Want to see more?

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