Software Executive Magazine

February/March 2018

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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stickier customers for Vend, it also has led to finding partners that are prequalified and ready to start selling its software right away. Second, Langlois recommends trade shows for signif- icant partnership marketing ROI because of the person- al relationships Vend has built at these. Face time not only helps close customers, it also cements partnership agreements. "The conversion rates on face-to-face re- lationships are significantly higher than trying to es- tablish partnerships online or over the phone," he says. "We've developed a ton of relationships in that one- to-one setting where we can meet someone at a trade show, get a sense of them and where they are, and un- derstand what they're trying to do with their business. Trade shows crystallize partner relationships, and I al- ways come back feeling we're really immersed in each other's opportunities." Regardless of what partner opportunities you target or how you spend your partner marketing dollars, Lan- glois stresses the importance of treating partners like employees. By that, he means, "If you're waiting for ev- eryone to apply for a job opportunity with your compa- ny, you're probably not getting the best of the best. You want to be engaged and actively encourage partners to come on board because they're good at what they do, and because you're good at what you do." Vend has a specific person on its team dedicated to recruiting partners, very similar to how HR teams have internal recruiters. Actually supporting a partner goes well be- yond incentives, and it starts with having a properly staffed team in place to manage partner marketing, onboarding, and continued support. "That's the table stakes, and there are a lot of gaps in a lot of partner pro- grams where you have someone who's just signing up a ton of people," says Langlois. "Their company's metric internally is, 'Hey, if you sign up 50 partners this month, you hit your target and you get a bonus.' It's really im- portant that your team managing the partner program really understands that it's about engagement, not just about numbers." Despite his accounting background, Langlois isn't impressed by numbers alone when it comes to evalu- ating partners. Vend's partner team that reports to him doesn't score points for the sheer number of partner press releases they put on his desk. His outlook on the ability of partnerships to help tech companies grow has come a long way since his days working in telecom and dotcom startups. "It's very metrics-driven. Part- ner programs are not a channel that you just say, 'Hey, here we go. Sign up 100 people, and the deals come in.' There's a lot more work to it, and it's not always sexy to do it. But if you set up the framework properly, it can really scale." S engaged in what we're doing. With any incentive that you give an internal sales team versus a partner chan- nel, the actual behavior that you want out of that chan- nel is just as high maintenance. You can't expect a part- ner to be sitting there saying, 'Oh, I guess I'm going to go out and evangelize another product for very little, or without any support from the actual company.'" P AR TNER PR OGRAM MARKETING Having companywide buy-in and knowing how to ef- fectively incentivize partners doesn't matter unless you have a proven way to find the right partners in the first place. Since Vend puts a premium on partners who are the right fit, they are selective in their marketing ap- proach. Langlois outlines three keys to marketing suc- cess that can be replicated by any software company. To start, it's not necessary to recreate the wheel; in- stead, software companies can leverage existing rela- tionships and build from there. For example, Vend's close relationship with a payment processing provider has allowed the company to tap into that partner's net- work of resellers. The bundled solution not only creates V E N D ' S P A R T N E R S H I P T E C H S T A C K VEND'S GO-TO TOOLS: ▶ SalesForce ▶ Slack ▶ Marketo The company has also developed internal tools to help track referrals, deal stages, and partner compensation. Langlois says, "The partnership channel needs to be treated the same way as your sales team in terms of tools and metrics. Our partners can log in and immedi- ately see data around deal stages and compensation. Complete transparency is incredibly important. The last thing you want is for your partner to send a lead and then think it goes into a black hole." Vend uses Slack to communicate with many of its top partners. Each partner has a separate Slack channel. 18 PARTNERSHIPS exclusive feature By A. Sorensen PARTNERING SUCCESS: GETTING PAST PRESS RELEASE MODE SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018

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