This talk was given by Alex Fala, CEO of Vend at SaaS Connect 2018 in San Francisco, May 1-2, 2018. Get the slides

Any conversation about partnerships should have at least one eye toward bigger-picture goals. One such goal, if lofty, is for companies to own the verticals their in.

Vend CEO Alex Fala told the audience at SaaS Connect how his company spent a lot of time building their partnership strategy, which allowed it to grow revenue, scale and ultimately consolidate its position in its vertical.

How did Vend build its partnership strategy?

For Vend, building a partnership strategy started by asking three simple questions.

  1. What is the solution that our customers need beyond just our product?
  2. How can we talk to partners?
  3. How can we scale to $100 million annual recurring revenue?

This strategy, then, started with customer needs, and then Vend went looking for partners who were a good fit for those needs.

Then, Vend considered the needs of those partners. The company made sure it was easy to partner with.

Only then did Vend consider its own revenue goals.

Many businesses make the mistake of starting with their own goals, Alex says. But partnerships require that companies prioritize the interest of partners alongside or ahead of their own goals.

What lessons can other businesses learn from that strategy?

Alex has two important takeaways from his experience leading that strategy:

  1. Think long-term, and act now. Long-term thinking can be evasive for newer companies, but it sets you up for the next point.
  2. Act bigger than you are. Start with a big play to get the attention of other companies and attract them as partners.

3 rules to follow when building these partnerships

A partnership strategy is great, but challenges do emerge once you actually put it into effect. Here are three things you can do to keep and maintain steady partnerships:

  1. Be used for what you have. Don’t try to promise things that you aren’t an expert in. Focus on the vertical you want to own.
  2. Don’t be used (much) for other things. As much as you should focus on your own vertical, an occasional expansion can show that you’re willing to go above and beyond for your partners.
  3. Make it easy to partner with you. This will encourage partners to actually stick around, as it shows you value their time.

Doing these three things will help ensure your reputation as a powerful company in your vertical. In time, you could own that vertical and make sure everyone knows who you are.

Building a channel strategy is not something that happens overnight. But it is incredibly worthwhile for any business looking to expand in their space.