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Building a SaaS Partner Program: A guide
Future of work

Building a SaaS Partner Program: A guide

Prachi Goradia
March 4, 2024

Do you have a kickass software that needs a gentle upward push on the sales ladder? Are you scratching your head too, thinking about how to grow your product? Or having an anxiety attack because your sales didn’t skyrocket, but had a bumpy landing the other way instead? Fear not, we’ve got your back! We’re here to teach you how to form and sustain a successful SaaS partner program. Let’s go through this guide to SaaS partner programs now!

What is a SaaS partner program and why should you build one?

In order to form partnerships that are forged in trust and compatibility, it becomes essential to lay down the groundwork for a sustainable business framework. Software as a Service (SaaS) partnerships then becomes an essential commodity to build on. The best way to build a SaaS program is to form sturdy partner programs that will come full circle in promoting your software and in-turn aiding business growth.

Partnering with another company to share common customer bases can be a huge asset in upscaling your company through record-breaking sales and marketing, as it allows you to leverage a well-known brand with a wide reach and facilitate a customer exchange channel that’ll benefit both partners equally.

As a company that offers software, a SaaS partnership program then comes into the picture as that can be amplified to drive greater business potential and scalability. A successful SaaS partner program can be built through various models such as a Reseller Partner Program, Referral Partner Program, Solutional Partner program, Affiliate, and Integrations Partner Program, and of course, your sweat and grit.

SaaS partner programs : How to build your own partner program?

Let’s go through some of these models in brief

Reseller Partnership Program:

In this new digital space, companies need to realize that there is far too much content on the internet that’s competing for the attention of the same few people. Like any SaaS marketing agency will tell you, when people have an attention span far worse than a goldfish, it becomes imperative to grab those few precious seconds to market your product right and hit the bull’s eye. For this, it then becomes necessary to partner with different companies and collaborate your customer base to reach a wider and more important, impatient, and fastidious audience. The perfect partnership structure, not only for startups and new businesses but also greatly impactful for upscaling larger companies, then becomes the reseller partnership program.

In a Reseller partnership program, instead of having a single sales channel, businesses can collaborate with third parties to boost their market visibility by adding new sales channels to their existing distribution models. By collaborating with another network, you can drive organic traffic to your product and theirs, hence benefiting both equally and becoming a value-add for each other.

Benefits of a Reseller partnership program:

  1. It is a proven and efficient way to amp up your customer base swiftly, with minimal effort input from your side.
  2. When you outsource sales to people that own their own networks, it positively brings down your expenses on SaaS marketing.
  3. Access to unlimited digital enhancement tools.
  4. Collecting monthly residuals with minimum effort.
  5. Access to competitive prices and strong collaborations.

Time to set-up: Negligible time.

Investment: Nominal investments.

Revenue Expectations: Revenue will start showing up after a couple of weeks to months and develop itself substantially in the long run.

Hence, this comes down to having another platform to sell your product to a loyal and trustworthy customer base, with zero cost to you and becoming a value-add to another scalable business!

SaaS partner programs : How to build your own partner program?

Referral Partnership Program:

A referral program in simple words is a program that works on a commission basis. Say that over the years you have gathered yourself a loyal and trustworthy customer base that is happy and content with your product. Now, you can use said customer base to generate newer leads and scale up your business with little effort and more gains.

A referral partnership program helps build a close-knit community within your existing customers and provides the scope of expansion to their friends and associates. It promotes community growth and forms the basis of a trustworthy pack of loyal consumers that are willing to promote your product in exchange for nominal rewards. A reward program acts as a magnet for both millennials and boomers and helps in driving good and scalable traffic.

Even if you’re a new player in the game and marketing seems to be a nightmare, referral programs are one of the easiest partnership programs to set up and monetize on. Referrals can be given out in the form of discounts, coupons and coupon codes, credits and loyalty programs, recurring rewards, and other short term and long term referrals.

Did you know that 81% of customers are more likely to engage with brands that have a rewards program?

Benefits of a referral program:

  1. Referrals through friends are more trustworthy than other marketing strategies that customers generally tend to regard as spam messages.
  2. People are four times more likely to buy something that a friend recommended rather than something suggested by a sales call or email marketing.
  3. They create rapid scalability based on word-of-mouth, the oldest marketing strategy, older than time itself, fueling a retention rate of 37%.
  4. Referrals also have a 16% higher CLV on average than non-referred customers, hence creating a loyal and dedicated customer base.

Time to set-up: Hardly any time, and the best part? Most of it can be automated in the long run.

Investment: Nominal investments as it doesn’t need a lot of resources or human capital to work.

Revenue Expectations: Around 5% of your total revenue and is a little hard to scale beyond a certain point.

Essentials to develop a successful referral program:

  1. Giving your customers a reason to share.
  2. Making the sharing process hassle-free for your customers.
  3. Choosing the right and most lucrative incentives to provide.
  4. Promoting the SaaS program effectively.
  5. Track referrals and move upward towards mass scalability.

In short, a SaaS referral partnership program is a huge cost and resource saver, helps build a close-knit community of loyal consumers, and is super easy and flexible to set up and track.

SaaS partner programs : How to build your own partner program?

Affiliate Partner Program:

An affiliate partner program caters to both B2B companies as well as external publishers. Basically you embed your links into a partner company’s website and that can help redirect some of their traffic towards your product. The partner site receives a small finder’s fee for promoting your link, that is the capital that you spent in promoting your product.

Affiliate programs work on a 90 to 10 basis, that is 90% of your traffic comes from 10% of your affiliate partners, which is a good percentage to monetize on. It is also advisable to not actually build your own software or tools for affiliate marketing but choose from a plethora of tools that are available in the market.

An affiliate program is pretty easy to manage from inception to the first few months or years. Though in the long run, hiring an Affiliate Program Manager is a smart move and a good investment too. A successful affiliate program will not only amp up your scalability but also help in creating your digital blueprint and creating an intricate web of consumer-driven engagements.

Benefits of an Affiliate Partnership Program:

  1. Affiliate partnerships are performance-based and hence self-motivate your partners to sell more to earn more.
  2. It helps excessively in broadening your audience since most partners have their own customer base that they’ll bring along.
  3. They help in tremendously boosting your reputation, as more prestigious is the company you partner with, the better is your standing in the market.
  4. It is extremely cost-effective in the long run.
  5. Affiliate partners can rapidly boost your traffic and sales over a period of time, with very little effort.

Time to set-up: Around two to three months.

Investment: Approximately $70 to $800 a month.

Revenue Expectations: Give it six months to a year’s time to get things rolling and become a considerable revenue generator. It can contribute anywhere between 10% to 30% of your total revenue.

“Affiliate Marketing has made businesses millions and people millionaires.”

The affiliate partner program is one of the most profitable partnership models out there and is great for scalability, lead generation, and most of all, creating great traffic, the one without red lights and parking tickets!

What is a channel sales model and how do I implement it?

After understanding how the guide to SaaS partner programs work, let’s move on to implementing a channel sales model now. Coordinating with customers and partners is just the beginning of the Holy Grail that is SaaS partnerships, the next step is maintaining constant and continuous communication through the various partnership channels. The most important point of data share between you and your partners then becomes resource sharing, especially data-driven findings.

It is crucial that everybody on the team is regularly measuring a series of numbers, understanding the importance of those numbers and is working on improving them. Those numbers will be the most important SaaS Sales Metrics for your business.

Sharing your SEO findings, important keywords and statistical analysis with your partners will help both of y’all to drive more organic traffic to your products and improve scalability and momentum around customer engagement. They too will be able to optimize their own resources in a more consumer-friendly manner. Looking at the larger picture, it might also be advisable to set up mail and messaging templates or content patterns to help in driving better traffic without any friction points and be a very useful tool in sales funnelling. Remember also to protect your emails with a DMARC report.

Therefore, the more efficiently you back your reseller’s marketing plans with your data and inputs, the more likely are you to form a successful and lifelong SaaS partnership program.  

Want to know about SaaS sales marketing? Check out global leader Shari Levitin‘s podcast for amazing insights here.

Who is my target audience?

The most crucial step in our Guide for SaaS founders is targeting the right audience. Like any business, the first and most critical aspect of affiliate marketing content is the audience or customer base that you wish to target? Because without that parameter, it’ll be difficult to form any concrete marketing or sales strategy or contingency plans. Having cleared that up, it should also be mentioned that SaaS softwares have their own niche market and hitting the right consumers then becomes all the more difficult and challenging.

What is always most obvious is also always the most overseen. Having the right target audience can build up your product and having the wrong one can destroy everything you have put your heart and soul to build so far. Make sure that the company that you want to partner with or vice-versa has the kind of audience that is looking for, and will be excited about the product that you have to offer. Otherwise, it’ll be money and resources down the drain, and trust us, that’s not where most customers instinctively try to look.

SaaS partner programs : How to build your own partner program?

So what we are saying is, why waste time and put in all the effort of creating a product from scratch, when you can easily build a sustainable revenue model by partnering up with existing companies? And you can use that spare time to build something that actually sets your heart and soul on fire and not your monthly bank statements.

Partner with us and grow your business 10 times in the comfort of your homes or sitting by the beach, sipping a piña colada and watching the sunset, who are we to tell? Give us a call and be ready to reach new heights, just like the Eiffel Tower trip you’ll be taking this year, thanks to your smart investments and profitable partnerships! And no, we aren’t a travel company yet, but who knows what the future looks like, huh?

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