How to Leverage Partnerships Early on to Penetrate a Competitive Market Quickly
In Alex’s 15-year career, he has helped hundreds of founders and been involved with dozens of partner programs. Now, through PartnerPrograms.io, Alex works to help software teams create effective programs for agency resellers. In this webinar, he discusses how you can leverage partnerships early on to penetrate a competitive market quickly.
Key Takeaways from the Webinar:
- What is “early” in terms of partnerships for a software company?
- What needs to be in place to ensure the success of an early partner program launch.
- Affiliate vs Strategic vs Referral partnerships.
- Examples of effective partner demand generation.
- Plus a case studies from Optimizely, Kiite.ai, HighLevel and HubSpot’s partner programs.
Watch the Full Webinar Recording:
Sanjana Murali: S.M
Alex Glenn: A.G
S.M: Guys please type in the chat to show your support. Susan, where are you dialing in from? We’ll be starting in another one minute. Right, if you have any questions during the session you have Q&A there. Send in your questions and Alex will answer them live. Hi, Dom, where are you dialing in from? Susan is from Canada, cool. We have a office there in Canada. Netherland. I guess we can get started. Alex, are we ready?
A.G: Ready when you are. One more.
S.M: Yeah. So good morning to everybody who is logging in from the United States and good evening to everybody from the rest of the world. Let me quickly share my screen and we can get started. So the agenda for today is very simple. I will introduce you to Hippo video. I will tell you what hippo video offers for your business. I promise it won’t take more than five minutes, it’s just two videos and two slides. After that I will introduce I’ll Alex Glenn in detail. Post introduction Alex will take over with this webinar session and finally we will open it up for Q&A. So just to remind you guys we have Q&A button below so you can type in your questions and Alex will take it up after the session. A quick introduction about me. I’m a marketer for more than five years. Now, I contribute guest post to G to crowd, Sing Copa , Get response, Filmora and then the forest. I currently own product and content marketing at Hippo Video.
So Hippo video is a personalized video distribution platform predominantly used by SDR’s, account executives, end marketers, plum enterprises and SMB’s. So what do you mean by personalized video? So you can take one single video, personalize it, so that every contact in your email list gets unique video experiences from a single video asset. So what you’re trying to do here is, you’re leveraging unique video experiences from a single video asset using Hippo video. Trust me this will save you a lot of your time and help you close deals faster. Videos today are currently exploding the marketplace. Videos are being used in different processes, different schemes, marketing, sales, support, campaigns, everywhere. So once you have these video assets with you, you distributed via blogs, websites, emails and so on. So all these workflows are built inside Hippo video. I’m not going to show you all the workflows today. I will limit it to personalization and sale.
So let me quickly show you a couple of videos now. Let me show you a video on how you can humanize your sales with video.
This is how you can create personalized video using Hippo video itself. Now let me show you a quick video to help you understand how you can use Hippo video to send short sales pitches from your Gmail.
So what you just saw was creating short sales pitch videos using just a Chrome extension itself. The Hippo video is integrated with Gmail. You can use it to send sales pitches, right from your Gmail itself. We have contextual integration built-in with tools that you are already using. For CRM, we’re integrated with Salesforce, HubSpot and Freshsales. For sales outreach we’re integrated with outreach intercom and Mailchimp. So if you guys have any questions on how to use Hippo video for your business you can reach out to me on LinkedIn. I can help you with it. So that’s it about Hippo video and what it can do for your business. I will move on to the main agenda for today.
So we have Alex Glenn with us as our guest. So Alex is the founder of partner Programs and Automated. Previously he was the VP of Marketing at Carly’s and advisor to AMA. So he is also the host of the marketing automation discussion podcast. So in Alex’s entire career span, he has helped hundreds of founders to build and execute creative growth system. That is what he’ll be teaching us in our webinar today. That’s it from my side. Over to you Alex.
A.G: Yeah, do you want me to share my screen?
S.M: Yes, you can.
A.G: Alright, hi everybody. I’m going to share a very easy browser window here, a couple browser windows. So we’re not doing slides for this presentation I’m going to go through the article which goes more in-depth on the subject. So if you want to pull up the link, the first link in the chat, you can and follow along. So it’s published on partnerprograms.io. You can head over the blog or just click that link. But what we’re going to discuss today is when it’s not too early to start a partner program. Now, in our experience here at Partner Programs we deal with both sides of the equation. The reseller side, the affiliate side, the co selling side as well as the software partners that are involved. We see the farthest along and we see the earliest on. We help companies develop their partner programs from ground up and we also help companies that have established partner programs reach more potential partners. So we’ve seen a lot and in our experiences we’ve seen companies that have in fact started partner programs very early on by traditional standards and we’ll go over the definitions of what early on may mean. But the most important aspects of this is that there is never a too early to start a partner program.
There is conventional wisdom and as this first quote implies from Peter at HubSpot, the former VP of Sales at HubSpot who’s now the CEO of Data Box. He says that if you’re doing something unique, conventional wisdom doesn’t always apply. That’s very very very important and great insight because especially with partnerships and especially with partner programs in general, we do not take into account the conventional wisdom. All we need to know are a few factors that make sure that it is a good environment for you to start your partnership program. So the first thing that we want to talk about real quickly is the safest time to launch a partner program. Now, when you’re talking about safest you mean less risk and that means less risk in obviously resources and bandwidth that you’re going to allocate to this program. Potential for it to fail which could mean all of those resources have been 10:40 down the drain. So when you’re going to your team, to your advisory board, to your friends, to your colleagues, to whoever you talk to about your partnership program and you mentioned wanting to start one, they may have different definitions of a partnership program in their head, they may have different experiences with partnership programs. But one thing you will get from most people is that product market fit is the key determining factor in when a successful partnership program is typically launched and success from the gate happens.
Product market fit is typically when you have a lot of happy customers, a lot of great reviews online, word of mouth is increasing faster than your overall growth rate. Meaning you’re getting sales from referrals organically faster than you’re actually growing your sales, that is a key indicator of product market fit, people are really enjoying your product. So of course in that ecosystem you can start a partnership program and offer those referrals some more incentive for referring your product and that will typically work out well. Now, what I want to look into and what we did look into over the past couple of weeks is a couple of case studies. One, that you’re probably very familiar with which is Hubspot’s partner program. Another that you may not be familiar with by this gentleman right here, Joseph Fung. Joseph is the CEO of Kite.ai. It’s a sales enablement tool. It’s a platform that is very difficult to explain and very time intensive to integrate with your system.
How Early is Good-Early in a Partnership?
So the first thing that we want to talk about here is when a partnership program can thrive early on? What are the key indicators that you have in ecosystem that you can plant the seeds of a partnership program and it will grow and thrive? And this is what Joseph and I discussed and this is what I was trying to get out over the last two weeks especially as what are the key indicators? The criteria necessary to launch a partnership program early and have it be successful. First and foremost, your ICP is your ideal customer personas are going through a major adjustment. This could be, and we’ll explain this a little bit more in depth, but a major adjustment could be they just raised around the funding, they may have just pivoted, they may be going from an old stack to a new stack but it’s a major change. Now number two, there’s a lot at stake around the decision to implement you or your competitor. Number three, your prospects are involved with an agency or consultant to advise them on this in particular transition that they’re going through. Number four, and finally your tool may not help a great deal but it needs to solve a material need, your tool needs to be integral to revenue generation. It could be attrition, it could be sales enablement, it could be marketing but solving material need.
Now these are not components necessary to launch a partnership program. What these are are components that we found are pretty standard in early partnership program launches. What this means is if you have these in place or most of these, not all four, but maybe three out of the four, you have a strong likelihood of succeeding with a partnership program given all of the next steps that we’ll go over here. Now, in this webinar just to reiterate, what we’re going to talk about early terms of a partnership program, what early really means, what needs to be in place to ensure the success of the partnership program. I’m gonna go into the different types of partnerships real quickly and examples of effective demand generation as well as some case studies from HubSpot high level and Kite.ai.
Now, what are the types of partnerships that we’re going to talk about? We’re going to stay in this reselling and co selling section here. But the other types of partnerships that you may be familiar with are affiliates and co marketing. So affiliates are typically just you know anyone with an audience that wants to add a link and generate from pushing people to your landing pages. There’s not a lot of relationship building in this affiliate world. Your contributing partners could be anyone with an audience. Reselling is the main focus that we’re going to talk about today. Reselling partners have a large part to play in the sales, sometimes full responsibility of the sales. When you’re talking about early on in the lifecycle of the company, the ability to have resellers is almost necessary if you’re going to talk partnerships. Because you have a small sales team, probably a small customer success team as well and you need to rely on those resellers in order to scale without having to hire the necessary salespeople to support those referrals that are coming in. So you give them incentive to take on sales and see as responsibility. So you’re contributing partner in this world are those who can resell effectively. Those are typically agencies and consultants that have a really close bond with your potential customers, your prospects, you’re already advising them in some way.
Co selling, this is that sort of next level in the sales. It typically relates to more strategic partnerships where you and another software company would co sell your way into a prospect. Typically dealing with larger sales cycles, typically dealing with higher priced sales. So in this world your contributing partner, anyone that can give you the correct decision-maker, supply an introduction and assist in the close of a sale. Then co marketing is typically a non-financial relationship with a partner. It’s a something like what we’re doing with Hippo video today. It’s you guys aligning on a mutually beneficial piece of content and the end goal is obviously more branding and alignment of your two brands to reach more potential customers. Now this is something that we do internally here at Partner Programs. When we would like to build a successful partner program, we go through some key attributes, some key checkboxes that we have to get off the table. We go ahead and create and build and accomplish these things before we start promoting any sort of partnership program. So if the client or the company is coming to us wanting us to promote their partner program, obviously we have to really enjoy their products first and foremost but they have to have these things in place. If they’re coming to us to build a partnership program, we want to make sure to go through all of these each one and make sure we check those off before we go ahead and promote it.
Some of these, you may understand pretty clearly, like obviously building a partner avatar who is your ideal partner persona. Where are they? What are they buying? What are the reasons for their buying? And all that kind of stuff is important to build and going through and talking about the goals, blueprint to success, the partner structure. So how are your benefits going to be structured? How are you going to track this partnership system? All of these things, the framework and then obviously the front end, the landing page, customer journey mapping, partner journey mapping, onboard messaging, all of these things that are necessary to go ahead and launch that partnership program.
So you’ve decided to go ahead and get the partnership program underway. You’ve chosen your types of partners that you’re going to market, types of partnerships that you’re going to market so those would actually go on your landing page similar to HubSpot has got a great one here. So become a sales partner, become a marketing agency partner, so these are different types of partnerships that HubSpot markets, right. So you want to figure those out then you want to go through the exact line items of what you need to check off and have an idea of how you’re going to get each one of these. Are these going to be outsourced to an agency? Are they going to be done by sales internally? You’re gonna need someone to own those responsibilities.
How to Make the Transition Seamless?
So now back to those key aspects that I want to really hammer home in this presentation. This is super important. So we’ll go through and redefine those one more time. So again, if you’re early on and you’re deciding whether or not to launch your partnership program, make sure first and foremost that your ideal partner personas C to a P are going through some sort of a major adjustment. This can be personal, operations, software. It’s typically where they are in need of additional support from a consultant or an agency. Now, that inherently means there’s a lot at stake in the decision to implement you or your competitor. Your tool is not integral or if your tool is not integral in the transition period, your ICP is going through. It may not be time to launch your partnership program. Very very important. Make sure that this tool, for example HubSpot here, is integral in the transition period. And HubSpot, and we’ll talk about this, they made sure that they went after those small businesses that did not have a tool like HubSpot to scale their marketing and sales operations. So they were integral in that transition that that small business was going through.
Finally, well second to finally, the prospects are involved in an agency or consultant. So this is important because when you’re early on in the partnership program build, there needs to be some level of additional support in that resell of your software, right. So we’re talking about the agency actually becoming an extension of your sales team. If you’re just talking about affiliate stuff flowing all that traffic, of course that’s not a full partnership, that’s just getting traffic through a different channel. But when you want to start a partnership program, you got to make sure that your ideal customer personas are being helped by a consultant or an agency in order to facilitate that sale for you. Finally, your tools should have that material need in place if you want to start your partnership program early. So the material needs you know this can be anything around sales marketing like we discussed. This is why you’ll see examples HubSpot and Kite as well as we’ll talk about High level which is exclusively through channel. But they are all integral in sales and marketing operations, which directly impacts revenue. If you were to rip any of these tools out after implementation, revenue would suffer immediately. And more downstream sort of revenue indicators or tools that impact revenue but at a later date these you know these are customer success types of tools, these may be content marketing related tools, they may be back-end tools, they may be project management, communication tools. You can definitely still thrive in a partnership ecosystem with those tools but the advice here today is to start those later on when you’re past product market fit and you have enough customers to lean on to resell, because the tools don’t immediately impact revenue.
So HubSpot, HubSpot’s partner program is here. The originator Peter is now the CEO of Data Box. Now Peter sent me the article that I posted here in chat and I believe is this one here. Now this article is him talking about how he actually created the partner program. So if you haven’t read it, read this article, it’s really insightful. He sort of summarized it and gave you our gist of the article here. But the main things, the main takeaways here is that Peter first and foremost, he was getting backlash from not only the investors and CEO but his colleagues internally at HubSpot when he proposed this new partnership program. And his idea was obviously go to the agencies that were representing the target customers and his target customers at that time were small businesses under 10 employees. Now today, fast forward to today, HubSpot’s partner program its channel sales represents 40% of HubSpot’s revenue and I was just talking to someone yesterday who mentioned HubSpot’s partner program as an example of where they would like to get and I think it’s where everybody would like to be. Of course at that 40% of total revenue of their partnership program, that’s a great case study.
Now what Peter knew and what we’re talking about today is that his tool was a tool that came into the picture when there was a material need for the tool; marketing, revenue, sales obviously and there was a lot at stake in the implementation. And then he also knew that there was an agency in the middle between HubSpot and the end consumer. If you don’t remember HubSpot back in their early days you know this was back I think in 2007 when this got underway. HubSpot was not an easy tool to use. They had their COS code, page builders that were very clunky and problematic. HubSpot did not have the integrations that it has today. It was not easy to implement, it was not easy to set up. Especially if you’re a small business owner and you’re dealing with customers and employees and all the stuff that you have to do as a small business, there’s no way that you have time to learn HubSpot, Peter knew that. So what Peter did is say hey we’re not going to target those small businesses directly. We’re gonna go to the agencies that manage their marketing, that manage their CRM, that manage their content, all of that kind of stuff and we’re gonna sell through them. So he developed the partner program with them in mind and created what it is today. Again you know he made sure that the partnership program at that stage had agency involvement, material need and a lot at stake for his end-all-be-all customers. So his customers were dealing with problems like not the inability to obviously market on social as well as pushing out emails, having it be in disparate systems. They’re typically on some sort of a pretty simple mail system and maybe have a social media tool, maybe have a CRM maybe not but he came in and he sort of gathered everything into one place, realized there was material need for this and a lot at stake and the agencies were involved and launched the program. So that is a very very good use case to talk about where it is not just a great time to launch a partnership program but in his case I think what he realized banging his head on the table in the sales room is it’s very difficult to just sell a tool as complex as HubSpot to a small business owner. So that the agencies who are used to implementing those tools.
Second one here, this is an important use case, case study sorry, from Joseph at Kite. Now Kite is a you know they call themselves a knowledge sharing software but it helps sales teams with their whole sales process. It has a whole lot of components. A lot of technology goes into this product. It is not incredibly easy to implement as the head of sales or the head of the business and it requires knowledge of the full sales process as well as knowledge of the software to implement. So what he did is he realized right off the bat that this is something that needs a consultancy sort of level someone that’s inside of the business working really closely with their prospects in order to facilitate the sales. So just like HubSpot he decides to go towards consultants and develop a partnership program with the consultants in mind. In this case they were typically change management consultants or sales consultants, that were great partner personas for him. And his organizations his ICPs the major adjustment I believe in his case where they were ramping up their sales teams and their sales processes and they were getting ready for a big sales push. So this is where Kite was ideal but getting involved in those conversations. As someone in sales at Kite and just trying to sell into the organization at that time would be very difficult because there’s a lot of moving parts and it’s not as simple as just an analytics tool or some sort of a marketing automation tool.
It is a very complex sale so you went to the consultants. Now it’s a very large percentage of their sales and he has a great case study that they published that I believe I linked to in the chat there and that’s from one of his customers here using Kite to drive the immediate impact. So he sent me this because the main thing here is this client understood that this, and this client by the way this is a consulting agency that he sells through so the immediate impact there of Kite is something that the consultant realizes and took advantage of and became a partner of Kite and now he sells Kite through all of his consulting relationships.
So what did we learn? Just a recap of those two case studies. The biggest aspects of the partnership programs when they are started early on there is a lot at stake. There’s a material need for your tool and there’s an agency or consultant involved in the implementation or involved with the ICP that can help facilitate the implementation of your tool especially if you have a little bit more of a complex tool. So HubSpot’s and Kite’s, check out the links, check out their partner program for some verbage examples here.
Now the final case study that I’ll mention here, this is a very interesting and very something that product owners may not think about right off the bat. They may think direct sales but I’ll talk about through channel only products and what through channel only is it’s exactly what it sounds like but through channel only is essentially product that decide to instead of marketing direct to their customers, they develop their entire business model and product to sell through some other channels, typically agencies, consultants or some sort of a service based business, right. This is a very very interesting strategic play especially from the high level product that we talked about here. So I’ll just go to High Level’s homepage, you can check that out. But what High Level decided to do, and this is their co-founder who I gathered some information and quote from, but High Level first and foremost is a marketing automation tool. It’s similar to HubSpot in a way. It does a lot of things. It covers all of these use cases; Google sheets, activecampaign, Skippio. But they develop the entire product to basically be the white label solution for marketing agencies that want to handle all of this for clients. So not just refer them to one of these products and say you know hopefully I’ll get a referral feedback from active campaign or pipe drive etc. but they want to own this marketing for their clients. So the customers of high level and what they built this product for are agencies that really own the marketing aspects for their clients.
So Shawn, we had a great conversation about High Level and we talked about what he was doing. He gave me this great quote actually this morning. We only sell through agencies because we believe agencies are the key link to help business owners really succeed in marketing. So many business owners try to do it on their side because they think marketing is some kind of a part of the gig economy and they get this wrong. So what he realized really early on is in order to have the retention that he needs to make High Level successful, he needs the marketing agency to be the customer, not the end-all be-all user of the campaigns. That is very very very important. Because if your tool has anything like HubSpot’s, or Kite’s or in this case High Level, it is something that if your customer does not fully understand the use case for your product and understand how to leverage your product completely soup-to-nuts. They’re gonna see it as a very expense and they’re going to a trip and you cannot do much about that. Your customer success team calling them and emailing them and giving them coupons is not going to prevent that. You need some intermediary and this goes back to the reason why you should consider launching a partnership program early if you are in the bucket of having a more complex product sale.
So the through channel only products, if you are considering and I’ll say this a couple other use cases for creating that through channel only system. And it doesn’t have to be fully white labeled, your end-all-be-all partners can just open up new accounts and new instances in your software for use on their clients campaigns. The client may never even log into their own dashboard and there’s other products like AtBind help you manage the billing of this. But one important strategy for through channel only as if you are entering a new country. A new country where the language is different especially. So in this world you have a great foothold in one country that speaks one language, your product is pretty well set up in that one language. Now you’re going into another country or another continent that speaks mainly another language. Now this is a perfect opportunity to develop a version of your product or even just a funnel for your product that is in that language and talks to the resellers specifically. And this is really important as well because when you’re going into a new country obviously you know the branding isn’t there, the trust isn’t there and not having people internally that speak that language is going to make it very difficult to support those customers. So that could be a perfect example of when you should go and consider through channel only funnels or product changes when you’re going into a new country, that’s a great one that we’re dealing with for a couple clients as we speak.
So going back to just the beginning, just to recap everything that we just talked about. When you should launch a partnership program early is when your ICP’s are going through a major adjustment and there’s a lot at stake around the decision to implement your tool and your prospects are involved with an agency or consultant to advise them on the transition, and finally your tool should not, sorry, should solve a material need. So should directly impact revenue, ripping out your tool should immediately cause revenue to drop. If those three out of four or all four are in place, this is a great time to launch a partnership program, all right.
S.M: Yeah, thanks a lot Alex that was so insightful on leveraging partnerships for growth. We have a couple of questions from our attendees. We have a question from Priya Darshini. I have on board a few partners but I haven’t seen any dissent so far, how do I manage the partner relationship? Do I push them, change the model or quit? Share similar experiences from the past.
A.G: Yeah, so you know there’s a lot of factors that can make or break a partnership program. You know you have the internal factors which are your people involved and this is typically what I see breaks a partnership program is… And again we dealing with this as we speak today so I’ll give you a good anecdote. So a company came to us recently with a need for us to review their partnership job, a partnership manager job posting, right. So they had this criteria in place for who they think should manage their partners, manage their partnership program. I looked at the job post and it was essentially a job post for an account executive just called a partner manager, right. This is something that I see a lot it’s when a software company, they want revenue out of their partnership program immediately so they think sales. They think I should hire someone that knows sales to come in and just onboard partners, just get a lot of partners into our funnel and get them to you know sign up, right. And that’s going to be what gets our partnership program off the ground. Now my advice to this person and advice that he’s taking as we speak and completely changed his outlook and his understanding of what he needs at this stage for a partnership program is the idea that you know your first partnership manager, your director of partnerships, this person that’s going to own the vision for your partnership program, that person needs to really understand that your partnerships are about the people involved. They are a relationship between you and your partner manager and the person or the people inside of that organization, right. Now the financial incentives are not going to sell your partner program. They are not going to get them… It doesn’t matter if it’s a 100% of the sale that’s not going to incentivize them enough. You have to really work and nurture that relationship and it takes a strategy that is first and foremost about finding out what’s important to that IPP, that partner that’s in your funnel and really nurturing the relationship and talking to them as if you are in fact partners.
Imagine, if you were to go to your co-founder and just ask them for, hey where are you at with the sales and the pipeline and how many referrals do you have coming to the business this week? They’d look at you like no you know I’ve got things to do, I’m dealing with other stuff, you know I’m your partner I’m not you know a salesperson. The same sort of mentality needs to transcend through your partner program. You need to make sure that especially early on, you really work closely with those key partners to get them enabled enough and that means content enablement, that means giving them the assets, the decks, the video tours, working with them on co marketing stuff, and getting them to really embed your tool into their process and understand that you are a partner there.
Aftermath of Content Enablement
So that’s the first thing is like make sure that you’re not selling partnerships with these people, with these potential partners and current partners that you’re really enabling them to be resellers of your product. From there, the product itself. So one of the caveats here to this early on creation of a partnership program is your product has to work. It can’t be buggy. It can’t be a you know… It can’t make the partner look bad at all during the process, right. So you do have to kind of pass, not the product market fit stage, but your product has to work. So you have to have a very solid set of software there that you’re trying to get the partner to resell. Because if they’re going through a presentation with a potential client and your software bugs out and something happens where they can’t explain it, they’re gonna be embarrassed and they’re never going to want to resell your product again.
Now the third thing which we dealt with recently too and this is more for the programs that have a PRM set up and they’re at that stage where they’re really getting a lot of partners through their traffic and through their funnel is a situation where an agency partner that we were dealing with was reselling. I’ll just tell you in this case it was copper.com and copper.com sits on App Direct. Now App Direct is a little bit different than other PRM’s where it actually handcuffs the partner and the client together. So if I sold you copper through App Direct and you tried to leave me as and I was your agency or your consultant and you tried to leave me and go you know off with another agency, you would have to delete that copper instance and restart it. Of course if this is your CRM, it’s not easy to just delete your CRM account and restart it with another account. There’ was no way to transfer it or move it because it was sort of handcuffed with this PRM in this case App Direct. So the PRM system that you are using to, make sure that your partners are tracked and enabled the right way is also the third thing that I’d say. And the other part about that that a lot of people don’t fully understand is your PRM is not just an affiliate link tracking system, it’s a place where you allow your partners and give them the trust factor of giving you access to their database of contacts to where they will upload a list of all of their clients into their dashboard inside your PRM. And then you and your salespeople track those and they have that transparency.
So partners, especially in this day and age, they expect you to have that sort of tracking and transparency level to your partner program. A lot of really good partner resellers, if you don’t have that in place, they won’t bother dealing with you. If you tell them oh you’re tracked using a UTM or some affiliate link and it expires in 30 days, they’re just gonna look at you like okay well what’s the incentive for me? How do I know what’s happening? I’m not gonna call you every week and ask you where my sales are in your pipeline. I’m not gonna trust that you’re gonna give me commission on everybody that comes through. I need to see it, you know I need that dashboard. So check out Partner Stack, that’s great PRM that we recommend.
S.M: All right. Cool. So we have another question from Ryan. So he’s asking when should you consider adding a partner?
A.G: Yeah, sorry adding a partner or software? Say that last part of the question again.
S.M: Yeah, when should you consider adding a partner or refer the software to your tech stack?
A.G: Ah, so that’s the PRM my guess is he’s referring to adding a partnership software. So you know this is something that doesn’t have to be early on and this goes back to the relationship building stage of your partner program. So if you follow these tips and you do check all the boxes that we mentioned and you feel like it’s early for you but you do want to start it, these first partners are going to be really strategic close partners of yours. You’re going to be talking to them all the time, you’re going to be offering them even some level of exclusivity to either a geographic region or a vertical in your partner program to get them to really buy into you. Because your software is new, they’ve never heard of you or may never heard of you and you don’t have that full backing. Because PRM’s are sometimes a little pricey. I mean we’re talking $300-$800 a month. Sometimes even more if you’re talking about you know doing a custom Salesforce PRM bill, it goes up from there. But if you’re looking at let’s just say Partner Stack, because I know them inside and out but about $400-$600 bucks a month, somewhere in there. It’s not an easy pill to swallow for a lot of startups, right. So it’s on the same level as your CRM may cost you that much at this stage so it’s hard to compare. So you don’t want to jump into a PRM right at the beginning. You want to really develop and nurture those first relationships, make sure you understand what they want out of your partnership program, use them to build your partnership program, get it evolve to the point when you and your sales team are confident to start pushing the partnership program. So that’s where you get through this entire list and you have those initial partners really working the sales system well and you’re confident that it’s ready to start promoting and now it’s time to promote. At this stage, you have the option of doing simple affiliate tracking versus a full PRM.
Now if you are going to use reselling as your partnership model, not affiliates, but you are actually going after resellers, you almost need a PRM when you start to develop those resellers. Because those are people that are reselling other products and they have full dashboards. They know exactly what to expect. They account for this revenue, this reseller revenue as a part of their monthly budget. So they need transparency which means a PRM. So if you’re at that stage when you’re ready to promote and you’re promoting to resellers, not affiliates, that’s when you look at a PRM. If you’re looking to just promote affiliates, obviously there’s a hundred cheap affiliate tracking link creation tools out there that you can look at. One thing to note about that is co selling is becoming a very interesting space for startups especially. Co selling is essentially where and you can look at getcrossbeam.com is one that I really like, partnertap is another one. But co selling allows you to go to someone else with another say Salesforce CRM and map your leads on top of each other and find out how many people are in their database that you do not have in yours and then taking and actually pulling those leads into your CRM and then obviously sharing your leads with that co seller. So if you’re talking about strategic partners, it may not be a situation where you use a PRM but you may look to partner tap or crossbeam and get the account mapping set up and start co sell.
S.M: All right, we have one last question from Pesh. What motivates partners to drive reference or partnerships? Is it just the commissions or something more? How do I entice the interest of partner?
A.G: Yeah, no we touched on this in the first question. But in my experience the interest of a partner it’s first and foremost to benefit their clients or their typically clients. Sometimes it could be customers as well in the case that’s a strategic partner but it has to be good for their client base. Their bread and butter is whatever they’re selling to their clients and if they’re have a bunch of clients on retainers and you want your tool to be involved in those retainers this is typical for a marketing agency that sells for example CRM builds or CRM management or marketing automation or content marketing. They have retainers that are in place that include tools that they typically manage. This is big with Marketo, it’s big with HubSpot, it’s big with Salesforce, the biggest partner programs that you know about. They sell their tool to resellers that are usually pretty exclusive to that tool. The reason they’ve chosen to be exclusive with that tool is first and foremost they believed that their customers would be better off with that tool than whatever other tool that their customers may be using. The second aspect of that is how the ecosystem, the product itself as well as the partnership ecosystem, is set up and conducive to reseller relationships? Now you saw a High Level they took that to the extreme and they built their entire product to be white labeled. Very conducive for a marketing agency because now that marketing agency can own the entire thing and never have to deal with a comparison. Whether its HubSpot versus Salesforce or HubSpot versus Marketo, all they sell is hey I’m gonna deliver X, Y & Z and I’m gonna do it in this dashboard, you’re gonna have access to it. They never know that it’s high level and that’s very conducive to their operations.
So first and foremost your product has to work for the end-all-be-all client. Second thing is the product environment has to be conducive to reselling and this goes back to the main points here where you should have a product…
S.M: All right.
A.G: Okay, so the question was… I believe it was when should you launch or implement or build-out or integrate a PRM? Right?
A.G: Okay. So we were answering this and it got cut out but the main times or indicators or position that you’re in when it’s a very good idea to start looking at PRM solutions. I would say first and foremost when you have partners that are actively sending you referrals and looking for ways to better track those referrals. That’s the very blatant black-and-white reason to look for a PRM. The differences between a PRM and in just a typical affiliate tracking, that’s where we sort get some nomenclature mixed up and people really don’t fully understand unless they’ve seen a demo of a full PRM or used one. They sort of think immediately about affiliate tracking and that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Partner Relations Management Solution
So let me just turn on this light here. The PRM’s that we’re talking about have dashboards for all of your partners and allow your partners to actually upload their leads list and track accounts, not just link clicking, right. That’s very important. So the PRM systems that you would want to look at when you are in a sort of a reselling scenario, are these PRM’s. If you’re just affiliate based, you know you’ve got products and you’ve got great product market fit and a lot of users or lovers of your product and a lot of people just wanting to gain some revenue from an affiliate link, you do not need a full PRM. Now if you’re talking about co selling or reselling relationships, where there is maybe a longer sales cycle and you have resellers actually holding contracts for your end-all-be-all clients that they want revenue for as well as accounts that they’re going after or have in their database. This is when you look at a “Partner relations management solution.” We work really closely with partnerstack.com. They’re great. The other caveat to this is co selling and we mentioned that real quickly and the reason I mentioned that is because there are situations when you can look at co selling software versus PRM. It’s a situation where if you have strategic alliances with other software partners or even agencies where you are co selling into the same accounts or similar accounts and a vertical. What you do is you implement like crossbeam. I believe it’s getcrossbeam.com where you actually add a different list that you are prospecting towards or your sales are going after. Then you go to another co selling relationship of yours and you ask them to layer on their data, so it’s data mapping. And you find out what chunk of their data you don’t have in your data or your accounts or you don’t have in your CRM and then you do a data sharing relationship.
What’s cool about the co selling platforms is they allow you to share not just account data, you can share full contact data, you could choose to only share account data meaning the company name or the person name and not the phone number and the email. So you may not want to give away their data of your prospects or your customers but you want to at least show your strategic partners who you have, they don’t have and vice versa. And that’s a little bit different than obviously PRM tracking, you’re simply looking for that co selling relationship. So you’re not doing a revenue share. All you’re doing is saying hey we’ve got a lot of customers, you’ve got a lot of customers, we’re in the same vertical, we’re non-competitive of course and let’s find a way to strategically sell these accounts that we both are trying to sell. And that’s a great mutually beneficial relationship. That’s not PRM based but it’s co selling based. So I just wanted to mention that.
S.M: Cool. Thanks a lot Alex for doing this webinar with us. I’m sure the audience loved it and sorry about the technical glitch. We’re trying to figure it out what caused it. Anyways we’ll be sending the webinar recording after this webinar to all the registrants so they will find it useful once they have it. So thanks a lot Alex for joining and thanks a lot to all the attendees who have taken the time to attend this webinar. Alex we’ll keep this connection going. So once again thank you everyone attending this webinar, thank you.
A.G: Thank you, take care.
S.M: Yeah, you too. Bye!
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