Step 1: Find the right partners for you
By Stewart Wesley
So there you are – sitting at your laptop 5 months into being a partnership manager. You’re eager to prove you can hit 40% of new revenue from “the channel” but there’s a problem: partners aren’t flocking to join your new program or, after signing up, they aren’t responding to your follow ups. It’s starting to look grim and you’re looking for a quick win that can scale.
We’re here to answer the only two questions you need to ask to find and recruit the right partners to bring your program back to life:
Question 1: “Who is a good fit for my partner program?”
Question 2: “How do I get them to join the program and actually stay engaged?”
Luckily, the first question is pretty easy to address. Here’s the process for figuring out who your partners should be:
- Define your Ideal Partner Profile (IPP) and try not to say the acronym out loud during any important meetings to avoid bathroom humor… your team will not appreciate the jokes if you are 8% to goal.
- Pro tip: Pull a short list of agencies that are already getting value from your product. Interview 2-3 agencies to understand how they REALLY use your product to support the services offerings they have. Note the characteristics that define agencies that use your product well.
- Now that you have your Ideal Partner Profile, let’s talk about how to find and invite agencies, specifically ones that are already using your product. There are two key tactics for doing this:
- 💻 Technical tactic: Agencies typically access your SaaS product directly via customer accounts. Leverage this by flagging accounts where the domain of the users’ email address doesn’t match the company domain of the customer account. (See the table below for an example.) Ask your engineering team to run a query and share a list of all users where this type of discrepancy exists. Make sure to do some quick research to confirm that results are indeed agencies before you start reaching out.
|Customer Account Name and Company URL
|User Email Addresses
|Bob’s Discount Furniture URL: bobsdiscountfurniture.com
- 🗣️ Word-of-mouth tactic: Ask your CSM and Sales teams to reach out to you when specific agencies or consultants come up in any customer calls. People always ask CS and Sales for stuff (CS especially), so consider making it worth their time somehow with a spiff, a hearty shoutout, etc. We’ve heard from many partnership people that this strategy is, while nice in theory, difficult to actually execute, so we recommend defaulting to the technical tactic above.
- Now that you have the names of some agencies that already use your product, let’s discuss gathering cold leads. One way to quickly get started on building an outbound target list is to check out partner directories of (1) your competitors and (2) your platform and key integration partners. Keep in mind that every partner manager of every SaaS product in the Shopify app store has gone to the Shopify Plus partner program website and started outbound from the top… if you are going to hunt these same grounds, you’ll need to get creative or at the very least consider starting in reverse alphabetical order.
Stay tuned for Part 2 – Get agencies to join and actually engage with your partner program.
P.s. We do sell software but we mostly care about helping partnerships work for our customers and their partner ecosystems. Feel free to email me (email@example.com) with any questions on how to find and recruit the right partners.
About the author
I am the COO of PartnerPage. I have worked on technology and agency partnerships since 2017 at Klaviyo and Yotpo. Before that, I worked on the other side of the table at a large consulting firm. More than anything, I believe that the best way to get your partners to care about your partner program is to send them referrals. Let’s connect!