A slice of life for a consultant reseller

How do consultants resell SaaS to their small business clients? Why is this channel growing slower than we all hoped?

Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting sat down with me to talk through a day in the life of a reseller of small business SaaS to help answer this question.

His consultancy, W3, provides digital marketing strategy to small businesses. To better support their clients, W3 have acquired several certifications to allow them to resell small business SaaS.

They are now

  • GoDaddy Reseller Partners,
  • Google Small Business Advisors for productivity,
  • Evernote Certified Consultants,
  • and Hootsuite Global Brand Ambassadors.

His experience reselling 4 different products as given Ray a unique perspective on what is working and what is not working for would-be resellers of SMB SaaS.

Key takeaways

1. A zoo of reseller experiences

  • GoDaddy has the best reseller experience he’s experienced. They allow resellers to white label GoDaddy to create their own interface.
  • Hootsuite is a simple affiliate model. W3 has to simply refer the customer and hope the customer can get set up on their own.
  • Evernote does not allow their Evernote Certified Consultants (ECCs) to have the usernames and passwords of their own customers, which forces the ECCs to find workarounds to solve problems for their own customers.
  • GSuite requires customers to sign up and work through ideas unfamiliar and irrelevant to them like DNS. If W3 can set up the account on their customers’ behalf, it takes 15 minutes. When customers have to do it themselves, it can take 3 hours.

2. Who owns the customer?

  • W3 really wants to maintain the customer relationship themselves.
  • In return, W3’s customers are protective of their relationship with W3 because customers rely on W3 to take care of them. W3’s customers don’t want to nor have the capacity to deal with the many SaaS vendors themselves.
  • W3 spends 60-70% of their time including one dedicated staff member just to manage the administrative overhead of setting up SaaS on their customers’ behalf.
  • W3 wishes they could have a single location for their customers to manage both billing and access to their own services, that would also allow W3 to manage the relationship with vendors on their customers’ behalf.

3. What causes vendors to fail with resellers

  • Customer demand drives the best reseller relationships. If there is no customer need, W3 cannot resell your software.
  • The more vendors want control of the customer, the harder it is for the customer, and therefore the harder it is for W3 to support their customer.
  • Because of the high overhead of managing each SaaS subscription, a poor commission structure will not make a reseller relationship worthwhile.