Two years ago, we kicked off our Partner Program and made it a Basware “must win battle.” Read to see the progress we’ve made, where we’re at now, and what we’re planning for the future.
Change is the only constant factor in life. It is an often-heard phrase and in the current era, there seems to be little time to sit back and enjoy the results of what has just been delivered. This is no difference at Basware. As we are transforming the last customers onto our SaaS platform, we are close to finalising our on-prem to cloud transformation. Parallel to that we hit the throttle and shifted our partner program into the next gear.
Driving business through partners is nothing new, many companies have run a successful partner model for ages and often the question arises, “Why didn’t Basware engage in this model earlier?” Many of our regions were successful in the space already. I think the answer is that you only have one chance to do it right and a company can only change on so many fronts at a time.
It is pretty impressive how much can be accomplished in a fairly short time. Currently, we are about 2 years past the strategic decision to move towards a partner-oriented business model and the numbers are impressive. The impact our older and new partners have on our business is big, both in bottom-line revenue, in sales metrics like pipeline conversion rates, win rates, and sales velocity. Additionally, we are seeing a positive impact on our delivery side.
So, is it just that easy? Just acquire a couple of partners and you are ready?
If only it was so simple. It takes a lot more to become an attractive partner in a saturated market where many providers claim they can do what you do (and perhaps claim to do it better).
Creating a Joint VALUE Statement
Starting from scratch is about investing, patience, commitment, and determination. Laying a foundation that will carry our future ambitions. And understanding. Understanding the business value for all parties involved. We are talking about real partnerships that go beyond having a bunch of resellers that will do our work for a piece of the pie. We want to make sure we learn from our partners, that the partners can become successful and are able to add value, and most importantly, that the partnership adds value to the customer. This is the basis of our 3-way value proposition. A starting brief in which we document exactly these value-adds for the Customer, the Partner, and Basware.
Getting to this 3-way value proposition forced both Basware and the partner to be mindful of the customers, the solutions offered, and the operating model. Are we easy to do business with? Is learning accessible? How is the partner supported in the onboarding?
The feedback we received from our partners was tremendously valuable to form our business and to invest in the right areas. For example, we introduced a dedicated partner support desk, where partners can directly access specialists to get customer support without going to the central support organisation. This by-pass makes it quicker for partners to get answers and equips partners with the right tools to help their customers faster. Dedicated people know the partners, which makes the contact more personal thus allowing for a higher level of understanding and more insight into customer-specific cases.
With the introduction of the Partner Centre of Excellence, knowledge is transferred easier, increasing the time to value for both partner and the customer. Especially during onboarding and implementation, partners feel confident they have dedicated specialists from Basware available that are ready for tips, tricks, knowledge, use-cases, and extra hands. End customers confirm, they feel secure having both the Partner as well as Basware collaborating to get them live.
And since business starts with sales and marketing, a global partner sales and partner marketing team is available to support partners in the commercial phase of customer acquisition. The marketing program includes professional-grade marketing campaigns that partners can rebrand and run. Sharing of research, reports, documentation, and so on coupled with a joint approach to specific markets, available monetary funds, and labor resources support partners and build a strong pipeline. Channel sales managers are available to guide the partners’ sales teams through the commercial stages, including presentations, action plans, offering management, and closing support.
Are we there yet?
Again, time spent sitting back to enjoy the results would slow down our ambitions. But we have a very strong foundation that we continue to build upon. Currently, we have an external specialist coming in to review and advise on our approach and define the next best steps. Our ambition to be the best company in this space to do business with and to offer the best solutions in the market is very high.
It goes without saying that setting up this channel requires quite some investment. Having our CEO as a key sponsor and leading this “Must Win Battle” is the key to success. And then listening to our partners, their ideas, suggestions, knowledge, and having the resources to turn this feedback into reality is an invaluable resource.
And with that I realised, I just sat down and looked back at what we have achieved over the past 2 years, pretty awesome when you stop and think about it.