Welcome to Episode 34 of our #APP, which sees us chat with founder of PartnerPrograms.io and host of Partnered 2020 Podcast, Alex Glenn, about all things partnerships.

Topics up for discussion include…

  • The ‘core tenets’ of a good partnership
  • Possible partnership opportunities for agencies
  • The importance of productizing service offerings

About Alex:

Alex has built and run agencies, started software companies, ran marketing teams, and leveraged partners to grow every one of them.

Founder of partnerprograms.io, Alex helps tech companies and agencies create mutually beneficial partnerships. In addition to being the host of Partnered 2020 Podcast (a link to which you can find at the end of this here blog), he is a mentor and strategic advisor at the Founder Institute.

Wait, there’s more! Alex is also…

New to Chicago (after 10-years in San Diego, by way of Colorado), in addition to helping people better understand how to leverage parent programs to grow agencies, Alex is also the proud father of a 4-year-old girl!

Points of interest…

There’s more information regarding each point in our blog notes beneath the video.

  • Explaining Partnerprograms.io 1:30
  • Core tenets of good partnerships 2:10
  • Partnership opportunities agencies should seek 4:30
  • Tech-enabled/tech-stacked partnership services 7:19
  • How to start adding partnership service to your business 10:06
  • Building recurring, high-margin services via partnerships 12:36


Explaining Partnerprograms.io

Their aim is ensuring that software and agencies can connect and become more successful together.

The overall mission is just better partnerships; more connection, more interaction inside of the ecosystem, while optimizing communication and clarity, and therefore a faster turnaround for the client.

Core Tenets of Good Partnerships

So, what’s at the core of a partnership between a software company and an agency? According to Alex, partnerships can really help you define your operating procedures, helping you get more organized as a team…

“Those partnerships can help you really streamline and optimize the services that you offer as an agency, which means higher ticket value, because customer retention is higher.”

What should you be aware of in terms of how partnerships ought to be structured? Below are some pointers; there’s more info on the podcast at the 2:10 mark…

  • Co-marketing or co-selling opportunities can help the software company enable their clients
  • Sometimes, you may look for tools to help you run more efficiently, thus optimizing service delivery on top of back-end systems
  • Always go through the partnerships funnel on a website, not the regular sign-up form
  • Feature roadmap inclusion and early access
  • Seek a dedicated phone number, or support channel, for agency partners to receive priority support
  • Remember: referral fees are not the foundation of a successful partnership, they are generally not going to be the primary value of the partnership
  • Feature sets, enabling agencies to onboard new clients and build-out services on top of it – like white-labeling, client portals etc.
  • Look for partners who have training – and systems – on how to build and sell services on top of their software

Partnership Opportunities Agencies Should Seek

Assuming you’re an agency looking to build out some services on top of software solution, let’s address some signals indicating a great partner you can really trust – and grow with – going forward.

For instance, if you’re more of a creative agency and don’t sell services on top of tools, look for co-marketing opportunities to add value to software companies that serve the same customer as you. An example would be Wistia’s partnership with Sandwich Video

If you’re more of a digital or marketing shop, and have a process for how you deliver value to customers, look at the funnel and process that you use consistently. Then, look for partnership opportunities at each step of said funnel or process. An example of this would be using CallRail in a PPC campaign. 

While you’re growing, try to stay vertical and use the partnership to increase revenue and margin; this is achieved by going deeper into a single vertical service offering – before you try to go too wide.

“Tech-Enabled” and “Tech-Stacked” Partnership Services

Productizing your services allows you to have a streamlined, scalable workflow, thus building out extremely deep relationships with your partnerships and support teams.

This can develop some awesome co-marketing opportunities to reach more clients.

Speed to value is key for both SaaS and agencies. Great SaaS partnerships should enable you, as an agency, to get your clients the outcome they want much faster – with higher margins and less work. 

The SaaS company is incentivized to help you do that, and your clients will get additional value from reaching their desired outcome faster. 

In some cases, you can charge more for something that takes less time; getting the outcome expedited quicker is of higher importance and value to your client.

Some SaaS companies actually NEED agencies to scale. For example…

  • Activation and retention are some of the most important metrics for SaaS companies 
  • Agencies can be essential in helping clients get complex tools set-up and implemented in their workflows so they can get successful 

Understand that, as an agency, you can bring a lot of value to a SaaS company by helping them make their clients successful, sticking around long-term, and building case studies for the value of their product.

How to Start Adding Partnership Services to Your Business

How do you start evaluating partners? Where should you go? How do you start selling this to my clients? What’s the roadmap here?!

What Alex recommends you do is: look at tools you can create from those replicable stacks.

For example, Alex works with a partner called The.com, an awesome new tool that allows you – in your backend – to spin up. Using a very simple editor that’s database driven, you can give a client access to the backend so they populate it with all sorts of cool stuff.

“You can create these templates for lawyers, you can create these templates for real estate agents; when you have a new client, not only do you immediately load them with an amazing SEO driven website, you can add on tools and snippets on top of those websites. “

For instance, you can launch a cookie cutter website that’s optimized already, that has chat already, and uses Smith.ai.

Building Recurring, High Margin Services Via Partnerships

If an agency is looking to find some good opportunities to build recurring, high-margin services into their agency through partnerships – where should they go? This is exactly what partnerprograms.io helps agencies figure out! As Alex says…

“Just look for partnerships. Don’t look at this as a vendorship. Don’t look at this as, you know, I’m just going to be asked to refer business all day long. Find a partnership. You have to grow with this company. Just like any partnership, it has to be mutually beneficial.”

Take a look at all the steps in your service delivery process. Start identifying opportunities to streamline each step of the process with software, and then evaluate the partner programs for each of those software solutions.

This will help you create a very predictable scope of work, so you can give clear pricing to your clients, as well as a clear process, plus a commitment to getting a solution to them in a timely manner!

Want to see more of Alex? Follow him @…

Did you learn anything new from this episode? If so, let us know in the comments below – we value your feedback! Our next instalment of #APP, on June 10th, will see us chat with Keith Perhac. To view our previous blog with Marcus Murphy, make your way here

Agency Profitability Tool Kit

If you’re looking for more resources to help you improve your agency’s profitability, then check out the Agency Profitability Tool Kit – it’s full of the same templates and checklists we’ve used with consulting clients to help them improve their profitability by over 100% in under 60 days.