Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

3 Critical Success Factors for SaaS Channel Sales Success

Posted by Mark Gibson on Wed, Sep 14, 2011

Recently I spoke to Justin Pirie about his role at Mimecast and his take on the biggest factors to get right in building a successful channel in a SaaS business.  

Justin has managed the largest SaaS group on LinkedIn over several years and has adjudicated over thousands of articles on the subject of SaaS. He works at Mimecast and leads Social and Community Marketing. He has first-hand experience in engaging their channel to help them succeed, enabled from spending the majority of his career in the channel.

Mimecast provides Cloud services  that augment Microsoft Exchange; Email Archiving, Continuity and Security, whether for on-premise, hybrid or cloud. Mimecast is one of Europe’s largest and fastest growing SaaS companies with growth around 60% a year, fuelled by 400+ channel partners.

Most important ingredient for success of a SaaS Business

As a warm-up question, I asked Justin - aside from product and team, what the most important ingredients for success of a SaaS business. “Outside of those two - Marketing is probably the most important component in making a SaaS business successful - much more so than in previous generations of software. Which makes process and an integrated inbound marketing strategy much more important. If you are not crystal clear in your value proposition  and DOING all of the activities to help you get found on the Internet, convert visitors into leads and nurture leads into sales ready opportunities, then you are doomed to fail.”

Selling Software is Typically not in a SaaS Channel Partners DNA

We then discussed the critical channel success factors in a SaaS  business and his answers are core tenets to Mimecast business and the foundation for their success.

“The first thing you need to recognize is that a typical Channel partner probably has a million and one things on their plate- so unless they have an immediate need you fulfill- it’s not going to be a priority for them…so you need a belt and braces approach to help your channel to be successful. The second factor to consider is that a typical channel partner is used to large up front margin and is not always as motivated by recurring revenue….”

Justin’s Core Tenets for SaaS Channel Success

Relentless Focus on Channel Partner Success

  • Staffing a channels team with the bandwidth to talk to, motivate and lead partners
  • Joint marketing and access to inside sales resources, marketing expertise, presentations, email templates and use of our logo as well as joint marketing funds to successfully run partner campaigns
  • Protect and nurture the channel with lead registration to prevent channel shopping and a sophisticated portal where partners can self-serve.

Constant Education

  • We are constantly running Webinars, creating training content, presentations and material that will help our channel to sell our product.
  • The trick is to keep the cadence high without overwhelming your partners. You have to remember, most partners will have many other products in their price-list and finding the right balance is important.

Events

  • Every quarter we host an event here in head office and run frequent partner Webinars.
  • We actively encourage our partners to come in to our offices, meet our exec and partner teams face-face and participate in networking and group learning as a way of staying top-of mind.

Take-Away’s

  1. The secret to success in scaling a SaaS business is a channel where partners can add value and extend sales marketing alignment ebook your capabilities and augment your services with specialist expertise
  2. SaaS channels require the same amount of attention, education and support as a direct sales team and this requires real people and real money.
  3. Helping your channel to clearly articulate your value proposition and jointly become successful in marketing your products may be the most valuable contribution you can make to their success. Get started on the process by reading the messaging alignment and content reuse ebook.

You can find Justin on Twitter and LinkedIn or jp@justinpirie.com

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Topics: sales enablement, saas channels

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