As I continue to dive deeper into SaaS Channel Marketing and Partner Programs, it becomes clearer that the success of a program is not built only around sales. It is a team effort and should also involve marketing, tech, finance and even HR. If designed and executed properly it can generate amazing results for the SaaS company – and if you don’t believe me just take a look at what Leanne Graham did for Xero.
Now, I am grateful to have been involved in sales from an early time. I used negotiate the deals with the C-Level Execs at Newspapers and Financial Institutions to build their rewards programs.
I would also (from time to time) do the signing of merchants for some of those programs, which meant signing up possibly 50-100 merchants on my own in a given city in a very short amount of time. ( Yes, it was literally like doing door to door sales and signing people on the spot.)
You learn a lot about the customers from talking to hundreds or possibly thousands of them around the world.
So what does this story about me doing sales have to do with SaaS Channel or Partner Marketing? Well, the point I was trying to make is that
you need to think about the customer before you build your SaaS Partner Program you need to put the customer first before you build your SaaS Channel program.
Now I dedicate more of my time to Digital Marketing and Business Development which compliments my Sales skills. One of the basic things that this has thought me is how to build a buyer persona and how to build for your ideal customer – and knowing who your target customers are going to be, is essential in your goal of effectively building your channel strategy.
Let’s not forget that when you are developing a channel strategy, that you are not selling directly to your end consumer, but you are enabling a partner to be able to serve the end consumer with the tools and support that you are going to give them. If we took Xero as the example, then I would look a bit like this.
Xero —–> Accountants & Bookkeepers —->Xero End Consumers
Some people would perhaps be tempted to build their personas around the partners, but that would be a mistake, because the only way you can build the partner program and give the partners in the channel the right tools is to know how the end customer actually uses your SaaS solution, what they like, dislike, what they need etc… So build your persona for them.
Still not sure about buyer personas? Below are clarifications to help you get started and see how they can help you with your Channel Partner Program success.
What is a buyer persona? It is defined as a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, which you can create with the help of real data about the customers you already have and valuable information gleaned from market research and in person interviews. For a channel program, I would talk to actual customers, customer service reps, the sales team as well as looking at your analytics and seeing how your service is used on a daily basis.
Why is it important for my Channel Partner Program? When you have a clearer picture of who your program is particularly catering to, then you are in a better position to align your content and your marketing campaigns toward consumers who are most likely to buy what you have to offer, and you will thus be able to increase not just your sales but your new and existing partners’ satisfaction as well. The insight that buyer personas can give you, can help attract only the most valuable leads, visitors, and eventually, partners for your SaaS business. If all is done well, they should also become your advocates.
How can I begin creating buyer personas? I would normally recommend to start with around 4-6 personas. I know some Banks that have 100 personas based on behaviors etc.., but for what we need we should begin with the basics:
Profiling the persona. You should among other things; age, gender, financial situation, lifestyle, profession, buying habits and decisions, purpose, educational background, interests, motivation, what they like about your solution, what they don’t like and other similar factors wherever possible. But keep in mind that you should create a core persona first before you move on to the next, so you can clearly see the difference between the core persona and the other variations, and develop plans for each, separately. Here is an example of a persona by Hubspot (another SaaS company like Xero that has built a successful channel marketing – partner program).
Utilizing relevant behavioral data. Aside from the basic profiling categories mentioned above, it’s also important to zoom in on more telling characteristics of the buyer persona. So pay attention to how a persona would spend her day, how she uses media, what her definition of success would be, what problems she faces on a regular basis, etc.
Knowing your buyer persona’s customs, behavior patterns, motivations and goals, as well as their preferences for consuming and engaging with you, can guide you in creating the right partner program. It can effectively inspire your partners and end consumers to trust you and use your service – and most importantly spread the word about your SaaS solution to others, thus becoming your advocates.