We met Christina at Agency Connect, a cocktail party series hosted by the Cloud Software Association to bring agencies together to talk shop and build relationships with software partners.
Our host is Sunir Shah, CEO of AppBind, which makes it easy for digital agencies to sell more services to more clients by bringing the managing and expensing of subscriptions under control.
Thank you to Christina Hooper, COO at Sparkitive. They are a digital agency that helps professional service leaders grow their audiences and attract more clients.
Which software partner has been the most disappointing to work with?
Hubspot has been the hardest one to work with. We actually left them completely as a partner for about three years. We only just recently came back, mostly because of just pressure in the space. You get credibility being a Hubspot partner agency. That kind of makes it worth a little bit of the hassles. The tools are good, but it’s just it’s so hard to work with them.
Can’t get support
We work with mostly smaller clients. They don’t need $2,000 worth of software. They just need the the basic software to start. They’re only spending a couple hundred a month. That gets us shuffled off onto the lowest level of client success. We just couldn’t get the support we needed to deliver for our clients.
I know the price that’s on the website is not the price that I can get if I’m willing to push and push and push.
Annual commitments are too much risk
We can get my clients onto monthly payments so they don’t have to commit to all of it up front. They’re still on a 12-month contract, which nobody likes. They’re taking my word they are going to use it, but they don’t even know if they’re going to want me for twelve months, let alone the software.
Risky software sales risk agency sales
Selling HubSpot too hard has actually cost me contracts. I can’t do the work unless I have the tools.
I’m in a mastermind group. Hubspot has been reaching out to this guy’s clients. He says my clients come to me telling me, “This guy at HubSpot wants me to buy more HubSpot.”
Pay to play
I have to maintain a pro-level subscription of $300/mo to get my partner kickbacks. I don’t even use it. My website is on WordPress!
Which software partner has been the best to work with?
WPX for WordPress hosting has been a fantastic affiliate partner. We’ve resold hosting for 10 to 12 years. We decided that we didn’t want to do that anymore. I tested a whole bunch of different hosting providers and kept having mixed bag results. WPX was the easiest to work with.
We’ve now sent over about 70 or 80 clients, and we have 200 clients moving over. It’s been pretty smooth the whole time.
I could hop on chat with them, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and there’s somebody there right away.
Delegate an entire process
You can actually can give WPX the cPanel login and they would migrate the whole site, all the emails, all of it. They’ve supported my clients, including the people who were not very tech-savvy–those who barely even understand that the website has to actually live on a server in the world somewhere.
Commissions don’t matter
They recommended the affiliate program to me. They didn’t have to do that! They didn’t have to give me a share. I didn’t know they had that, and they gave it to me anyway.
Any advice for software companies reaching out to you to become a partner?
Simplify the pricing
A big part of it is just simplifying the pricing. If it’s too hard for us to describe to customers, we will sell it wrong. We will sell three-fourths of what they actually need. Then I’ll have to go back to the client to sell more. That makes us look bad over and over and over again.
We need clarity on what the customers are getting. Even if you want to have tiers, even if you want to make it complex, make some way for us to communicate easily, “This is what you’re getting.”
Dedicated channel sales people
Or put one of your guys straight in the trenches with us that can do it for you. Someone who has experience selling your stuff that is willing to work with us as an agency and figure out what our clients need.