This talk was given by Rajiv Ramanan, Head of Marketplace Business and Tech partnerships of Freshworks at SaaS Connect 2019 in San Francisco, March 26-27, 2019. Get the slides

A partner ecosystem built into a business can help drive growth, revenue and success.

Freshworks understood this and built its business to match. Rajiv Ramanan, who leads the company’s tech partnerships program, took the time at SaaS Connect 2019 to explain how it affected the way they did business.

Here are some things businesses should keep in mind if they want to build a partner ecosystem, and how they can get the best results.

Why bring in partners at all?

Having a concrete reason behind bringing in partners helps ensure businesses will find the right companies to hit their goals.

Here are just a few reasons a business might want to build such a platform:

  1. To foster growth. A comprehensive partner platform with a vibrant solution ecosystem can help drive innovation and critical solutions across all products.
  2. To acquire more customers. Partnerships and out-of-the-box solutions act as a strong lead generation channel.
  3. To drive innovation. Partnerships essentially crowdsource innovation, bringing new capabilities to customers.
  4. To create an ecosystem. This fosters long-term commitments from partners and customers alike.

How to grow your ecosystem of partners

Starting out, it can be difficult to partner with large companies, especially for smaller businesses. Focus on partnering with smaller businesses at first, as they’ll be more open to partnering with unknown companies.

It can take a while before people actually start to get interested in your business. Once they are, though, your ecosystem will have hit its growth phase. This is a good time to get more partners on your side.

From there is the scale phase, where people actively know and want to be a part of your partner platform.

From their efforts in the partner ecosystem, Freshworks saw a number of positive results:

  • 200% growth in MMR impact
  • 65% reduction in churn probability

Why are partners so important to the future of business?

Businesses are moving away from transactional relationships. Instead, they are focusing on an interconnected buyer journey. This means relationships will sell more than anything else.

Businesses that invest in these relationships will be able to drive business value.

It’s important to understand where partners fit into a business’s approach. Trying to bring them in too early can lead to wasted effort. In general, partners can be gathered during the launch process, but they’re most effective when implemented after the launch.

Here’s a model that Rajiv suggests instead:

  1. Create joint-value proposition pre-launch
  2. Drive customer traffic during launch
  3. Focus on adoption post-launch
  4. Accelerate growth through partner engagement

Key takeaways

Here are tips for any business looking to build a partner ecosystem:

  1. Go after strong value propositions and not after brands.
  2. Take a partner-first approach to demonstrate value.
  3. A marketplace can definitely be a strategic growth driver.
  4. Create a partnerships support team.