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You’re a B2B SaaS or enterprise software partnerships leader. What are the ideal attributes and characteristics of service provider partners? Let’s take a look.

24 February 2023
3 minute read
Image Source: Midjourney

I’ve been something of a fly on the wall of the B2B SaaS and enterprise software partnerships community over the past few years.

And, wow! 

This is a community made up of phenomenally talented, deeply passionate, caring, incredibly ambitious and connected executives, entrepreneurs, founders, advisors, investors, revenue leaders, marketers, solutions engineers, professional services & customer success heroes (my people), plus individual contributors of all stripes. 

To be sure, most software vendor partnerships leaders are in sales organizations, but the cross-functional collaboration I’ve seen truly is epic, United Nations-level stuff.

Ok, so what makes me qualified to comment on the state of software vendor partnerships, especially with consulting services organizations?

It helps a little that I cut my teeth in digital marketing agencies for ten years in Seattle and London (much of it steeped in tech & data work), and I currently run the MeasureMatch consulting services marketplace. 

Although we're not yet executing on a formal partner strategy (coming soon), we are 100% in the business of partnering with each of the three groups of customers we serve through our services marketplace, to create mutually beneficial upside.

In short, I’ve been living and breathing various flavours of sales, marketing and, especially, software vendor partnerships for the better part of 20 years. 

Importantly, my team and I are about to embark on an overhaul of the MeasureMatch Partner Exchange, which is a set of tools designed to serve software vendor executives, partnerships and customer success leaders, so we're going to fully double down on growing and maximizing the value of partnerships in (and through) the MeasureMatch marketplace.

This write-up is an attempt to crystallize some of things I’ve learned about B2B SaaS partnerships over the past couple of years, much of which is getting baked into our marketplace.

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So, from the perspective of a B2B SaaS or enterprise software partnerships leader, let’s say in a very competitive field (is there another way?), what are the ideal attributes and characteristics of consulting and marketing agency services partners?

At a high level, ideal consulting & marketing agency services partners, for the pursuit of mutually beneficial sales motions and net new revenue opportunities, will be those that can bring complementary skills and capabilities to the party, and work collaboratively to achieve each other’s business goals. 

Simple, right?

Deep industry expertise, understanding of procurement processes, and strong relationships with decision-makers are especially valuable to help create success in the face of stiff competitive threats.

Below are the top 10 things that software partnerships leaders should look for and develop with consulting & marketing agency services partners:

  1. Industry expertise

Consulting services partners with deep industry expertise can provide exceptionally valuable insights and knowledge about your target customers and help you to develop targeted solutions that meet their specific needs. 

Our take: Create a finely tuned list of ideal customer profile industries and share that with prospective partners. Clearbit is a great resource to build a database of industry categories.

  1. Innovative & strategic thinking

Partners that are innovative and creative can help you identify new opportunities for growth and develop new solutions that meet emerging customer needs in large organizations.

Our take: Ask prospective partners to demonstrate how they share, communicate and give from their innovative and strategic thinking. Innovative and strategic thinking are fluffy terms and mean nothing without communication and action. Get data and use it to shape joint value propositions and more.

  1. Strong client relationships

Partners that have strong client relationships can introduce your SaaS or enterprise software solutions to potential customers and help you build trust and credibility in the market. Relationships with decision-makers in large organizations can help you gain access to key stakeholders and decision-makers, which can be crucial for closing deals.

Our take: Ok, this one’s kinda obvious, but incredibly important. If you can, get titles, spending to date, services provided and take a “relationship” temperature by asking for Net Promoter Scores (NPS) or client satisfaction surveys, too. Importantly, get more than logos from your prospective partners, but stop short of names, email addresses, etc.  

  1. Sales and marketing capabilities

Partners that have strong sales and marketing capabilities can help to raise awareness, nurture prospects, and help to close deals.

Our take: It’s one thing for a partner to have these capabilities paid for by clients (for their benefit), but another thing for a partner to have these skills and bandwidth on tap to grow partnerships. Check for this and craft a repeatable playbook if the resources are indeed available. This is incremental to co-selling, which is below.

  1. Technical expertise

Consulting partners with technical expertise can help to develop and integrate your SaaS solution with other systems, making it easier for customers to adopt and thrive with your software.

Our take: This can be a tough one to evaluate if you or your partnerships team members aren’t technical, but this is well worth exploring with your solutions engineering or customer success team members who are.

  1. Collaboration and communication skills

Partners that have strong collaboration and communication skills can work effectively with your team, helping to ensure that you are aligned on goals and working together to achieve them.

Our take: Get introduced to other software vendor partners and get their takes regarding how well, or not so well, the consultancy operates on this basis. 

  1. Proven track record

Partners that have a proven track record of success are confidence-builders. 

Our take: See the data. Intros made for other partners (aka leads generated), marketing efforts that raise awareness, services/solutions provided, services revenue earned, software sales commissions earned, etc.  

  1. Shared values and culture

Partners that share your values and culture can help ensure a strong partnership that is built on mutual respect, trust, and understanding.

Our take: To make the most of these human, emotion-filled and commercially-driven relationships, play for the long term. Be thoughtful, considerate, creative, but direct, collaborative and open to ideas. Trust is everything.

  1. Understanding of the procurement process

Partners that have a strong understanding of the procurement process (which just might be the processes and friction between consultancies and their clients), especially in large organizations, can help to navigate the complexities of procurement and increase the likelihood of success. The basics include the request for proposal (RFP) process, vendor selection, contract negotiation and pricing.

Our take: Don’t cut corners here. Be a good scout - be prepared. Getting this stuff addressed up front, directly and with the utmost of professionalism will help to build productive relationships, or kill them dead if handled sloppily.  

  1. Co-selling bandwidth and capabilities

Co-selling is a sales strategy where two or more companies collaborate to sell a product or service. In the context of software vendors and consultancy partners, co-selling can provide several advantages for both parties, including: increased revenue (for both parties), improved product adoption, reduced sales cycle, improved customer retention, enhanced reputation. 

Our take: Co-selling is hard, requires substantial work and especially considerable commitments to high-frequency communication. But, when the stars align - magic happens. Approach co-selling as if you’re in the best band in the world (Metallica? Twenty One Pilots? Beatles?) or you’re in the most exciting startup with your best friends. Give to add and create tremendous value for all involved.

That’s it. 

By way of a recap, ideal consulting & marketing agency services partners, for the pursuit of mutually beneficial sales motions and net new revenue opportunities, will be those that can bring complementary skills and capabilities to the party, and work collaboratively to achieve each other’s business goals. 

Deep industry expertise, understanding of procurement processes, and strong relationships with decision-makers are especially valuable to help create success in the face of stiff competitive threats.

Below are a few folks I’d like to thank for their work and generosity, because I’m learning so much from them (you can, too):

James

James Sandoval, MeasureMatch Founder & CEO

Founder & CEO of MeasureMatch

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