MSP Partnerships, Top FAQs on Partnering with digital agencies, Agency-tech partner alliances

January 16, 2023 by No Comments

Partnering with digital agencies | Agency Partner strategic alliances. MSP partnerships, the most commonly asked questions

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Partnerships have been a tough nut to crack since SaaS was first invited. Part of the problem is both sides are speaking different languages. But most of the channel dilemmas we experience stem from misalignment on both sides of the alliance. MSP partners (Managed Service Providers) need to focus on client services and need the partner program to strengthen their client relationships. Meanwhile, technology partners who are partnering with digital agencies are seeking revenue in the way of referrals and channel sales from these agency partners. You can see how this can lead to misalignments.

Watch this video and hear some of my answers to top questions around Partner Program Setup as well as partner activation and partner enablement. Hopefully, this will help your business when you come to partner with digital agencies – making agency MSP tech partner alliances more profitable for all the stakeholders involved.

00:13 What are the most attractive partner incentives in order?
Based on our research in this report – Agencies appreciate and stay in programs based on these incentives: Referrals and warm introductions from tech partners. Support and training from their team. Co-marketing and co-selling commissions. But, the product HAS to be demanded, or used, by their ICP.

00:52 Do commissions matter?
Commissions start to matter ONLY if the ACV is over $10K – like HubSpot, Salesforce, Shopify, SalesLoft… And even then, they are never a large part of an agencies total revenue (the majority of agencies never see commissions going above 5% of overall revenue).

01:27 Can a poor product still win partnerships over a superior product?
Although it has been done in the last decade (HubSpot was actually a terrible product for a long time during the rapid expansion of their program), today it is very very rare because products are getting so good and the adoption of new technology is becoming much easier or faster.

02:30 Do agencies or tech companies need a partner manager to succeed in creating a partner program?
The short answer is no. I have worked with CEOs who have successfully activated and enabled enough agencies to support their MSP program growth for years. Take for example. They are 4 years old, have hundreds of agency partners, and no “Partner Manager” at the time this was recorded. They succeed in partnerships because it’s in their DNA. Every piece of content, product decision, sales conversation… has a partner involved. So their content managers, marketers and product leaders work hand in hand with partners to get what they need done for their KPIs.

03:22 When do we need a partner relationship manager (PRM)?
The short answer is – you need a PRM if or when you have a commission-centric partner program (an “affiliate” or “referral” program). The traditional MSP Partner Relationships Manager is built for you to manage commissions, tiers, payouts. The more advanced PRMs are allowing for triggered emails, asset management, branded portals for lead registration, and some partner communication…But, more and more SaaS are replacing commission promises with non-compensatory incentives like pass-through discounts, increased support, training, co-marketing, co-selling… If you are building a partner program based off of non-compensatory incentives, check out

04:30 What minimum criteria does a partner need to possess to be ready for partner operations?
For tech companies – they have to have a solid product that is demanded by a lot of companies. For agencies – they have to have a growing client base with at least 6 months average retention on retainers. This means their clients trust them. Most will tell you that the partner needs to be able to “Sell” or have a strong “Sales Operation.” My adjustment to this is to say: The partner needs to be able to close, or have a very strong product that sells itself. From there, I will say team alignment is critical. The team has to want to work with partners and have partners involved in as much as possible – from product to marketing, in order to succeed.

05:56 How can I ensure ROI from co-marketing with partners?
The co-selling answer below will add to this, but map accounts prior to the campaign. Also, you can track leads from webinars and goals in GA based on seeing partner-sourced content on your site.

06:38 How agencies and SaaS can effectively co-sell together?
The underlying issues are: There isn’t a SaaS out there helping to educate agencies on co-selling through marketing, blogs, or training. So they are not being helped. Most agencies don’t have a trained sales leader who learned to co-sell at a previous tech company or other agency.

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