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What is the key to cloud SaaS success?

It used to be that a good piece of business software, targeted at the right audience, would find success as a standalone product. Those days are gone.

In today’s SaaS market, business customers expect your software to perform seamlessly, as part of a robust ecosystem of business software solutions, and not just as a separate entity. It is no longer simply a matter of whose software has the most features or who can provide the best user experience, it is about who has the most comprehensive environment and how easily it can be integrated with the rest of the business software your customer needs.

What does that mean for your business?

This shift has paved the way for a new path to commercial success. Rather than trying to come up with all the answers in-house, which is guaranteed to overwhelm your in-house resources, businesses can leverage the strength of adjacent vendors and create partnerships that can be beneficial for both parties. Whether it’s collaboration, workflow, or security, there are a wide variety of vendors to choose from – but you do need to choose wisely in order to create the best partner ecosystem for you.

There are two key considerations to keep in mind:

Customer reach

First and foremost, you must integrate your software with the tools that your customers use most often. To find out which tools those are, you should keep an organised record of features, functions, and integration most often requested by customers and prospects. It’s also important to keep an eye on the industry’s most popular complementary tools that can help address customer needs, as well.

While this seems easy enough, it can be a bit of a minefield. Everyone wants to integrate with the same widely deployed apps. Given the high demand, it is often difficult to get attention from these typically larger technology vendors. Furthermore, even when your integration is complete, you run the risk of becoming yet another offering in a crowded app marketplace hosted by a big player. Without a thorough go-to-market plan you may not get the customer attention and increased reach you are looking for.

That’s where the second consideration comes in:

Partner engagement

Partner engagement is a crucial, yet often overlooked, part of a successful technology partnership strategy. If you are able to integrate your product with complementary solutions from engaged technology partners you will be able to enhance your product by making it a part of a larger ecosystem. Not only that, but you can also greatly enhance your sales reach, cost-effectively generate new sales leads, and enhance your brand exposure. It also makes things easier for existing customers, and could attract potential new customers.

Partner engagement starts with targeting the right types of prospective partners. I find that the following simple criteria work in most cases:

Vertical alignment

If you are operating in one or more verticals or industries, try to engage partners that operate in the same areas. This increases the likelihood that customers will view your solutions as complementary and increases the odds for a cultural fit between you and the partner.

Similar customer profile

Search for partners whose customer base and buyer profile are similar to your own. This will benefit both of you in the long term.

Structured programmes

Your chances for strategic success increase dramatically if your chosen partner has a structured programme to support technology alliances. Things work better when everyone has done it before, and if the programme is structured you know exactly what you’re giving and what you’re getting in return.

Give and take

Everyone needs to get something out of a technology alliance, or else the relationship is unlikely to last. Give a lot of thought to what you can offer your partner, not just to what you expect to get out of the relationship.

Personal relationships

When it comes down to it, people do business with people. If all you do is integrate your software and expect things to work out on their own, you are likely to be disappointed. Engage with people you trust and with whom you can see yourself working.

Technology alliances are an essential part of today’s SaaS business strategy. They can help you to extend your product capabilities, while increasing your market reach and helping grow sales.

The trick is balancing between the need to integrate with the most widely deployed business tools and unlocking the tremendous value that you can generate with an engaged technology partner. Finding a healthy balance will provide endless possibilities for the growth and future success of your business.

Ronen Vengosh, VP of Business Development, Egnyte

Image Credit: Alexander Supertramp / Shutterstock