This talk was given by Ty Lingley, Strategic Partnerships of Unbounce at SaaS Connect 2019 in San Francisco, March 26-27, 2019. Get the slides

Internal buy-in can make a big impact on the success of a channel.

Ty Lingley, Director of Partnerships at Unbounce, explained to the SaaS Connect 2019 audience all about internal buy-in, and how to achieve it.

Why the term ‘buy-in’ isn’t as clear as most people think

Buy-in isn’t any one thing. Instead, for buy-in to occur, three criteria must be met:

  1. All teams grasp risks and upsides.
  2. All teams understand organizational commitments required.
  3. Executive teams are committed to the program’s success.

If these three things happen, then your channel program has internal buy-in.

How do you confirm demand among potential partners?

The buy-in journey begins with interviewing partner people. The next step is finding demand signals and exploring them.

As an example, Lingley and his team dug into company data and found 327 requests from people asking Unbounce for a referral reseller or affiliate program. This was before the partnership structure was even in place. And the requests were split down the middle: Half came from customers, half from non-customers.

These requests created a sufficient sample size that he and his team could begin segmenting. That let them focus on the people who really wanted to join the partnership channel. This early step of filtering requests helped Unbounce secure buy-ins.

How do you scope out a partner program?

After you segment, you can begin to create projections for how big this partner channel could grow to. Start this by calculating:

  • Program reach
  • Project recruitment numbers
  • Project referral numbers and conversion rates
  • Project deal sizes and revenues

These projections will help you figure out whether your channel is actually getting the buy-in it needs. You can then adjust accordingly.

What is the right platform for your partners?

Not every platform is right for every partner. But by properly segmenting your partners and making sure you understand who they actually are, you can choose the right platform for them.

Picking the platform for your partners — and not the other way around — increases the likelihood of successful buy-in.

What are the risks of this buy-in?

Any buy-in comes with risks. A common one is the worry that a referral channel might impede other marketing channels.

It’s important to consider and assess these risks. Decide where it’s worth getting exposure and where it isn’t.

How will the team impact the buy-in?

Finally, take the time to get feedback from your team. This helps to secure program resources and get ahead of any problems that might arise. Make sure your team understands exactly what your channel is going to entail and what their place in it is.

This will lay a solid foundation for the channel right from the beginning. Employee and partner buy-in will help to keep things running smoothly, as well. And if things ever begin to get off-track, you’ll have a definite plan to go back to.