Read Part 2 in the series: How We Look for a Good Fit
You have done your due diligence in qualifying a potential partnership, so now the next step is to put an agreement in place. This is the critical juncture where the framework is built to structure the partnership, including establishing the critical details like licensing, commercials, etc. Getting these key specifics right in the initial conversations benefits both partners and clients alike and accelerates the road to revenue.
In the world of b2b data licensing, there are many questions to think through at this stage:
- What product(s) are we offering?
- Who owns the customer relationship?
- How is the data priced?
- What incentives are in place for the client? For the partner?
In some cases, a partner may express interest in all the products you have. However, during the initial engagement, it’s critical to use the 80/20 rule and focus on the key metric: which products are going to drive the most revenue.
At Whitepages Pro, we offer five products – Identity Check, Lead Verify, Reverse Phone, Phone Intelligence, and Phone Reputation – and return over 75 unique data attributes on a single query. Now, add our offering to the partner’s full line (there are over 25 unique products on the Twilio marketplace alone). That is a lot of information for a Twilio sales rep or account manager to learn, master, and then be able to communicate back to a client or prospect accurately. This is why the 80/20 rule is important. It’s difficult to train partners on your products, so focusing on key products will help drive revenue sooner. If you and your partners are able to establish the key value-add product early in the engagement and thoroughly train all client-facing staff, serving end customers becomes more efficient, successful, and scalable and, ultimately, drives more revenue for everyone.
Managing the Customer Relationship
There are several key factors related to managing customer relationships, including contractual, financial, and account support. Reaching the right mix of these variables requires collaboration with the partner under the mutual goal of providing the best customer experience.
Consistency between direct and indirect channels for customers is critical with a partner-first go-to-market approach. We believe that partners accelerate the adoption of our data as well as maximize the total value received from our data. Therefore, when a partner can serve a customer better, we refer customers to that partner. Having consistent pricing and messaging between direct and indirect makes this referral process much more streamlined and better for the end user.
Additionally, many SaaS platform partners have their own pricing models that their customers are used to working with, such as pay-as-you-go or pre-paid annual. Adjusting your pricing model to fit within your partner’s paradigm can also speed adoption and ease contractual negotiations.
In our experience, it’s important to align the partnership with each parties’ sales reps and incentivize appropriately. There are a few things to think through:
- Does your sales team get compensated if they refer customers to a partner?
- Are your partner’s sales reps incentivized to push your product?
There are several tools available to answer both questions: spiffs, quota coverage, commission, etc. Leveraging these tools will ensure maximum alignment and partnership success.
Qualifying the partnership is a critical step in guaranteeing a successful partnership, but that’s where the work really begins. There are a number business terms that need to be fleshed out in order to make sure that the partnership is successful for both parties and clients alike. We hope some of these thoughts and ideas will help guide future partnership discussions in your business.
Read Part 4 in the series: The Key to a Successful Partner Integration is in the Details