One of the great benefits of a SaaS partner program is the steady revenue stream that a network of motivated channel partners, distributors, and VARs creates. Resellers play a vital role in scalable growth, allowing you to sell more without having to shoulder all the overheads associated with direct sales. But if that’s the only benefit you see when you look at your ecosystem of partners, you’re missing out on a host of other incredible advantages.
First things first: recruit top-quality partners to join your SaaS partner program.
Nurturing partnerships that truly add value for both organizations – and your customers, of course – creates opportunities for innovative collaboration and allows you to offer complete solutions to your customers. This goes a long way to positioning you as a thought leader in your industry and giving your product that enviable ‘gold standard’ status. Getting all that right, however, requires choosing which companies to partner with in a very selective manner. That’s why it’s important to have a clear and well-developed idea of your ‘ideal partner’ and a set of key questions ready when interviewing potential partners. (Check out our post Three critical questions to ask a partner before they sign up for guidance on how to navigate the partner evaluation process.)
While it’s important to be discerning when vetting potential candidates for your SaaS partner program, remember that partners today have more options than ever before. According to Accenture, 77% of partners interviewed say they have more choices of providers now than they had three years ago. This means that recruiting partners can be highly competitive, and your partner program needs to offer real value if you hope to win partner mindshare. In reality, the partner programs that offer the most value to partners tend to be the ones that offer the most value to vendors, too. (Prep yourself to successfully woo potential partners by being aware of questions candidates are likely to ask before joining your network.)
A strong SaaS partner program can be so much more than just another revenue stream.
With the right partners locked in to a robust and active partner program, you’re ready to reap a host of benefits over and above the extra revenue your resellers bring in. Here are three ways your SaaS partner program can help you conquer the world (or, alright, maybe just your industry).
1. Co-innovation with partners takes your offering to the next level.
The ability to build effective, relevant software products that solve your customers’ problems is central to your success as a SaaS company. And as you well know, the tech landscape is highly competitive and evolves at lightning speed. Luckily, the right partnerships can help you stay at the cutting edge of your industry.
Your partners bring more than just additional development skills and existing products; they’re also able to help you better understand your customers’ needs and problems – and how you can collaborate and co-innovate to collectively solve them. Using your partners’ customer insights, skills, expertise, and resources can help you fill the gaps in your own offering and co-creating highly effective, holistic software solutions.
The infographic below depicts how having an ecosystem of partners enables tech companies to better meet their customers’ needs:
2. The right partnership structures can give you an edge over your competitors.
There are several types of partnership structures (referral partners, VARs, influencers, affiliates, etc.) that could feature in your SaaS partner program. Which kind of relationships you choose to build with your partners will vary depending on your specific ecosystem goals, as each partnership structure has unique benefits.
Integration partnerships can be particularly valuable, as they make your customers’ lives easier while also making your product stickier. Integrating your product with your partners’ products and systems makes your customers’ lives easier by enabling seamless data sharing between apps. When your product works smoothly with their other favorite apps and systems, your customers aren’t likely to stop using your tech as they won’t want to lose that convenience factor. Integration partnerships also open up co-selling and co-marketing opportunities and help put your app in front of your partners’ existing customer base.
3. Your SaaS partner program can be the ticket to penetrating new markets.
Instead of developing new products aimed at your existing customer base, it might make sense for you to look at market penetration as an avenue for growth. Stijn Hendrikse outlines three different forms of market penetration in this article:
· Targeting larger customers by transitioning from SMB to enterprise
· Targeting a new geography that you haven’t entered before
· Targeting a new industry or field that can benefit from your offering
No matter how good your product or service is, breaking into a new market or industry can be tough. There’s a quicker way to get a foothold in new territory, however. Partnering with a company that’s already established in a desired industry, area, or audience segment gives you an instant ‘in’ and an invaluable stamp of approval. Co-marketing and co-selling with established partners will be invaluable, as well as building integrations for the apps and systems already in use in a new market.