A whopping 75% of world trade flows indirectly (Forrester). As a result of this, partnerships, channel resellers, and other strategic alliances have become a vital element of doing business today.
What’s more, resellers today are no longer satisfied with the same old traditional channel sales model. In a world where resellers control such a big chunk of your company’s sales opportunities and customer relationships, partners are on the hunt for companies that offer sophisticated, well-managed SaaS partnerships that enjoy ample resources and generate steady revenue and other benefits for resellers.
Here are three types of SaaS partnerships that offer a mutually beneficial and attractive relationship for both SaaS companies and their resellers.
1. Influencers and affiliate programs
The messaging contained in your own marketing and sales materials are only a tiny drop in the ocean of online opinion and influence your customers swim through every day. For this reason, affiliate networks and programs can be a hugely powerful sales and marketing weapon in the SaaS partnerships arsenal. The more voices recommending your products and services online, the more customers you’ll find in your funnel.
Basically, an affiliate partnership is one where a partner company or online influencer (usually a blogger, online content creator, or well-respected expert in their field) recommends your product or service and links their customers or audience directly to your company (either while disclosing their affiliate status or not). When a sale is made, the affiliate is paid, usually on a commission basis.
Two categories of influencers can work particularly well for SaaS partnerships:
· Key Opinion Leaders
According to SuperMetrics, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are respected experts who focus on their craft and tend to only promote products or services that they actually use themselves and know inside-out. KOLs usually have a large audience and their opinions are extremely highly valued. Having a KOL join your affiliate program can be a massive boon for any SaaS company.
While nano-influencers by definition have a much smaller reach than KOLs, they’re still able to pack a hefty punch when it comes to sales conversions. As SuperMetrics points out, nano-influencers (usually bloggers on high domain authority websites) only have between 1-10K followers, allowing them to penetrate highly targeted audiences that fit your brand’s niche and result in high conversion rates. Nano-influencers are even able to forge highly impactful ‘one-to-one’ relationships with followers.
Partnering with both KOLs and nano-influencers is a great way to gain authentic user-generated content around your products, services, and brand. This content goes a long way to attracting and converting new leads and customers.
2. Value-added reseller networks
Value-added reseller (VAR) networks are one of the best SaaS partnership options available. This is because VARs often do most of the marketing and sales footwork for you, either selling your software on your behalf or bringing highly-qualified leads to your doorstep.
VARs often bundle their services along with your software, offering customers a complete, 360° solution and a smooth, coherent customer experience. One of the great advantages of partnering with VARs is that they often take care of onboarding, training, and customer support on your behalf. Because they offer services around your software, they also increase customer success and satisfaction rates.
Make your SaaS partnership more attractive to VARs by providing infrastructure specifically designed to connect them with customers. For example, marketplace infrastructure that includes a Customer Portal provides a new sales channel for VARs while simplifying and consolidating sales- and project-related communication.
3. Strategic alliances
Strategic alliances or partnerships are “broad agreements that align the strategic efforts of two or more companies with overlapping products or markets towards a common goal,” writes Kieran Tie in this Crossbeam article. Unlike a joint venture, companies in strategic partnerships remain independent entities. Tie outlines the following reasons why strategic alliances might make sense for SaaS companies:
· More value for the customer: partnering with complementary companies can fill in any gaps in your offering and maximize overall value for the customer.
· Less risk: a broader offering protects your company against future market fluctuations.
· Penetrate new markets: joining forces with brands that are established in a particular market can help you reach new customers at a lower CAC.
· Co-marketing opportunities: strategic partnerships with bigger, more well-known brands can create valuable co-marketing opportunities for smaller start-ups.
· Pave the way to acquisition: a strategic alliance can be the first step to the eventual acquisition, should that be desired.
Pulling off a successful strategic alliance or partnership requires a clear roadmap, clear-cut designation of responsibility, sharing of information, and a reliable method of measuring partnership success.