PUBLISHED: Oct 17, 2023

How SaaS Companies Can Amplify their Sales Growth with Partner Programs

Pratik Dholakiya
How SaaS Companies Can Amplify their Sales Growth with Partner Programs
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Do you know the biggest challenge to amplifying your SaaS sales and revenue? It’s limiting your sales channel to a direct sales model. Selling directly to your target audience is just not enough when you want to scale your business.

Today, it’s important for SaaS companies to have multiple channels at their disposal to sustain their brand in this cut-throat competition. Your SaaS marketing plan should include opening up more streams of revenue apart from content marketing, email marketing, SEO, and others.

Most successful SaaS companies have one thing in common and that is they utilize and grow upon partner programs. The significance of partner programs is high as 58% of the revenue generated by sales reps come from partner contributions.

Previously, we learned why partner programs are worth building and how you can create your own tailored program. In this article, we’ll delve into how can you utilize partner programs to accelerate growth and generate more sales and revenue. But before that, let’s understand the differences between the direct sales model and the partner program sales model:

Differences Between Partner Program Sales vs Direct Sales

Difference Between Partner Program Sales vs Direct Sales

In a partner program, a SaaS company expands its sales channels to include other companies, organizations, individuals, or existing customers to generate more sales. These partners often receive a commission or other form of compensation for their sales efforts. This model allows you to expand your reach and tap into the partner’s potential customer base.

The direct sales model is where you sell your SaaS directly to customers, typically through your own sales team. This model allows you to have more control over the sales process and build direct relationships with customers. It also eliminates the need to share revenue with partners.

However, in direct sales, your sales team is responsible to bring in new customers and increase revenue. But there’s only a finite number of hours they can work to turn prospects into closed-won deals.

Partner programs, on the other hand, continue to be operational without much supervision. And the best thing is you only have to pay rewards when there’s an actual sale and you onboard new clients. Rewards can be of different forms such as cash, commissions, flat fee, or other tangible incentives.

Here are a few factors to know whether starting partner programs is right for you or not:

  • Company size: Small-scale SaaS can grow its number of partners without hiring and training a sales team. If the partners grow larger, they’d bring more sales and more partner channels.
  • Product Maturity: Is your SaaS in the early stages of its growth? Build relationships with your existing customers to get insights so that you can nurture and polish your product to reach a level of maturity to expand your reach with a partner program.
  • Sales Model Maturity: Before you show your partners how to sell your SaaS, it’s important that you understand the USPs of your product. Define various important buying triggers and how long it takes to close a deal. Depending on such insights take the final call for building necessary partner programs.
  • Revenue Needs: Depending on your need for revenue generation, prioritize and adjust your sales models. Direct sales can help generate revenue sooner than others but partner programs may help you get a sustainable flow of cash. Thus, set up your partner programs while also focusing on generating direct sales.

How Can Partner Program Amplify Sales for Your SaaS Companies?

Now we know the differences and things to keep in mind, let’s get to know how partner programs can help accelerate the growth of your SaaS:

6 Benefits of Partner Program for SaaS

1. Multiple Channels at Your Disposal

Since there are several channels to leverage, SaaS companies can build tailored partner programs to promote and sell their SaaS products. Some common channels include:

4 Types of SaaS Partner Program
  • Referral Partner Program: In this program, selected partners or existing customers refer your products to their friends and family or other potential customers in exchange to earn a fee or commission.
  • Reseller Partner Program: Here, you dispense licenses to resellers to sell your SaaS product to their clients. Partners in this program purchase your products at a discounted rate and resell them to their own customers.
  • Affiliate Partner Program: Partners, in an affiliate program, promote your SaaS product through their own website or social media channels and receive a commission for any resulting sales.
  • Integration/Technology Partner Program: Here, you integrate other SaaS products into your own solution and sell it as a bundled offering.

2. Select the Right Partner Program

Selecting the right partner program is often difficult for many but here are some criteria to form the right partnership program that amplifies your sales:

6-Step Process to Select the Right Partner Program for SaaS
  • Identify the target market: Understand the target market for your SaaS product and identify potential partners that cater to the same. Doing so ensures that the partnership is a good fit and will drive more sales.
  • Define clear goals and objectives: Clearly define the goals and objectives of the partnership program and communicate them to potential partners. It’ll make sure that both parties are on the same page and working towards the same goals.
  • Evaluate potential partners: Carefully evaluate potential partners based on factors such as their reputation, customer base, and overall fit with your company. This’ll ensure that the partnership is successful.
  • Develop a mutually beneficial partnership: Select a partner channel that is mutually beneficial and help each other grow with a fair share of rewards against bringing a reasonable number of sales.
  • Track and measure success: Regularly track and measure the success of your SaaS partner program using metrics such as increased sales, customer acquisition, and customer retention. Use this information to continuously improve your program and ensure its success.
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Keep the lines of communication open, and make sure your partners are on the same page as you. This will help you to build trust and ensure that the partnership runs smoothly.

Remember, the key to a successful partnership is to find the right fit and to work closely with the partner to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

3. Find and Reach Out to the Right Partner

An important part of selecting a suitable partner program is to find the best-fit partner to form the right partnership. Carefully evaluate and define potential partners that are best suited to promote your SaaS product.

For instance, you can partner with content creators, service providers, product platforms, knowledge partners, and influencers that speak directly to your target audience. You can also find complementary agencies that have an existing customer base best suited for your product to form a partnership with.

However, keep in mind the following things when finding prospects for your SaaS partner program:

  • What should be the minimum customer base?
  • Reputation and overall fit with your company
  • What advantages does your partner bring to the table?

Once you’ve shortlisted a few partners to get started, reach out to them with your offer of building a partnership and discuss your goals. Clearly define what you can offer your partner and vice versa to make this partnership more fruitful and generate more sales.

Also, determine your partner’s goals, needs, & challenges they might face to offer your support and help from the get-go till the actual sales start happening. This’ll help set clear expectations and form a seamless partnership.

4. Offer the Right Incentives to Your Partners

Offering the right incentives in your SaaS partner program is crucial to its success and to amplify your sales. It not only motivates them but also makes them feel a valued member of your team. Of course, money is the biggest motivator and may be the only reason for partners to join your programs.

However, you also want to consider other reward types that increase in value after they start bringing in more sales. Here are a few incentive options to consider:

4 Types of Incentives for SaaS Partner Programs
  • Commission-based incentives: Offer partners a commission on sales that can be a percentage of the sale or a flat fee.
  • Revenue-sharing incentives: Share a percentage of the revenue generated from sales coming through the partner’s efforts. This is a great way to align the interests of you and your partner.
  • Marketing incentives: Offer partners marketing incentives such as co-branding, co-marketing, and co-promotions.
  • Recognition and awards: Recognize and reward partners for their efforts and achievements. Public recognition and awards can act as great motivation for partners to perform better.

Ultimately, the right incentives will depend on the goals of your partnership program and the needs of the partners. Be sure to continually evaluate and adjust the incentives as necessary to ensure they are driving the desired results.

5. Set Realistic Partnership Goals

Creating and incentivizing your SaaS partner program is just the beginning, what’s more, it’s tracking the growth and success of your partnership program. However, you can only do so once you have established and defined realistic goals for your program’s success.

Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) that help you measure and attain the relevant goals within a specific time frame. For instance, you can set a goal to increase monthly sales by X% or acquire Y new customers in a year with the help of your SaaS partner program.

Creating such realistic goals would help you become aware of what could be possible with your partner programs.

6. Onboard Partners Properly and Track Your SaaS Growth

Just like employee onboarding, onboarding the partners the right way is crucial for the success of your partnership with them. The first step is to form an agreement that states mutual goals, incentives, benefits & resources, responsibilities, and contract breach terms.

Further, you may want to consider offering training and hands-on product demos so that your partner can represent your SaaS in the best way possible. Also, explain the USPs, brand message, and other key selling points that your partners should emphasize when promoting your SaaS.

Another point to keep in mind is to personalize the onboarding process based on your partner’s goals, needs, and challenges. The last step of the puzzle is to set up goal tracking for your SaaS partner program to get insights on which channel is working best and which one needs more polishing.

Some Examples of SaaS Partner Programs

Let’s see some partner program examples of SaaS brands:

1. Slack

Slack partner program

Slack is an essential business communication SaaS tool that enables its clients to use different SaaS apps within the tool. It follows an integration-based partner program to onboard partners such as Google, Zoom, Salesforce, Oracle, and others.

2. Pipedrive

Pipedrive partner program

Pipedrive is a sales CRM SaaS tool to help businesses streamline their sales process. It offers technology-based, affiliate, and referral partner programs with a commission of up to 33% for the first year. Additionally, it also offers solution programs for resellers and consultants to promote and sell Pipedrive with their own professional service.

3. Zendesk

Zendesk partner program

Zendesk is an integrated customer support and helpdesk SaaS tool to help improve customer relationships. It offers different partner programs where resellers, existing users, and solution providers can participate to promote and drive more sales. Also, their partner program offers different tiers of partnerships including Ecosystem, Qualified, Advanced, and Premier.

Grow Your SaaS with Partner Program

Whether you are a small business or a large corporation, it’s important to grow average monthly sales when you scale up. Partner programs can help you generate qualified leads and drive more sales to boost your revenue.However, it’s crucial to find and select the right partners that help you amplify your SaaS sales. In this article, we have laid down the process of how SaaS companies can form alliances with different partners and help each other grow through partner programs.

Image sources: Slack, Pipedrive, Zendesk

Pratik Dholakiya

Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of Growfusely, a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.

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