Setting up the channel Partnership like a Joint Venture (in 7 steps)

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What do I mean by setting it up like a "Joint Venture" exactly? It means taking out the transactional nature of typical SaaS partner programs and focusing on the components of it that mean "partner." More on that below...

First, you have to understand what a true "Partnership" consists of:

  • It's much more than simply financial: A partner understands and supports your business growth with connections, advice, project support, co-marketing, co-selling...
  • Reciprocity: Each party is giving and taking, but no party takes without giving.
  • Alignment: Both of you know and are aligned on what each other is doing to further the partnership.
  • P2P: The partnerships we speak about and form are between the people inside the organizations. Not between the two businesses.

Here's a routine for new partnerships that we suggest:

Read the article on Joint Ventures.

In it, the author lays out what can easily be the guidelines for a successful Service Provider-to-tech partnership.

1. Shared investment

{{Time and resources should balance out}}

2. Shared expenses

{{Matching spend on promoting an event or co-marketing campaign}}

3. Technical expertise

{{The tech support teams assists you and your clients with the implementation, while your team works with the client on "What's next" strategy}}

4. New market penetration

{{This partnership should take you both into new markets - upstream, into new verticals, horizontally into new aspects of the client work/stack...}}

5. New revenue streams

{{The tech partner may try to hang their hat on commissions, but the real value is on the new services you can sell clients on with the support of the tech partner}}

6. Intellectual property

{{This item may not apply, but in some cases, service providers and tech can build out some level of new white labeled product together}}

7. Synergy

{{Synergy in going-to-market, co-marketing, and co-selling together reduces the time and costs for both parties while also improving the quality of the output}}

8. Credibility

{{The partnership will provide instant credibility in front of the audiences that trust each of the respective partners. This credibility can be leveraged in a number of ways to benefit the partners customer acquisition and retention efforts}}

9. Barriers to competition

{{This is the best reason to partner with agencies, but it also works in the agencies favor - clients will come to the "Expert" of a solution before they will go to an agency who promotes services on top of many relating tools}}

10. Improved economies of scale

{{This value is gained by the tech partner when they have many agency partners, but it can be gained by the agency partner immediately when the tech partner has an established ecosystem of integrations, use of, and demand for their product.

Now, Here's how to do this:

  1. Read the article on Joint Ventures.
  2. Setup a time with your partners to run this exercise.
  3. Create a timeline ("Partnership Memorandum") with what you each are going to do, when, how...
  4. Allow your partner to fill out the same thing (commit) right next to that timeline so they can visually match it.
  5. Then, you both sign it.
  6. Next, you take that kanban-based project management solution like Partnerhub.
  7. Finally, invite your agency to the board so they are clear where you are at and what's happening.

How do you effectively go to market with those partners?

What you don’t do: get a referral link and write one blog post about the product.

What to do:

  1. Pure content and co-marketing (great for those people who have influence - podcast, blog, youtube channel… and can barter that influence for speaking gigs, highlights in partner blogs, sponsorship dollars for content...)
  2. Account mapping using a tool like Reveal - this strategy allows partners to track ROI of co-marketing. Who from your database made it into mine?
  3. Co-selling - the next step after you are tracking accounts, you actively invite your audiences to webinars, then follow-up with a pitch of some sort. Make introductions to your partners if/when the leads show interest.
  4. Running a course for the users of the tech partner - this is top of mind right now for me. We’re working with two agencies who are training users of their tech partners - not just how to use the tech, but what to do after the tech is implemented (full funnel). This is great bcs the tech partner gets a savvy marketer to train their users that the users trust (alleviating CS bandwidth), increased retention and speed to premium account level… and the agency gets a flow of leads - sometimes even fee’s for each seat (for paid courses).

Here is an infographic to share:

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