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[sas pahrt-ner proh-grams]

SaaS (software-as-a-service) partner programs are a systematic way that software companies form mutually beneficial relationships with agencies, influencers, and other companies to drive business results. Partner programs can take many forms, including affiliate marketing programs, referral marketing programs, reseller partnerships, technology partnerships, customer ambassador programs, and distributor partnerships.

Companies rely on partners to help them drive a wide variety of sales and marketing initiatives, including driving traffic to corporate websites, referring qualified leads, and even closing new business deals directly on a company’s behalf. In technology partnerships, many software companies build integrations that allow data and workflows to pass from one system to the next. For example, Vidyard (a video marketing platform) integrates into Marketo (a marketing automation platform). The two companies also engage in co-marketing efforts to help drive qualified leads to one another. 

See also: Channel sales

Example: As a digital-first environment has increasingly predominated, SaaS partner programs have become a common way that software businesses drive revenue efficiently.

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[saylz uh·nay·buhl·muhnt]

Sales enablement tools provide go-to-market teams with the high level strategy. tools and resources needed to effectively engage prospective customers and close deals to increase sales results.The goal of sales enablement is to increase sales by providing sales teams or partners with the education, training and strategy to sell a product through knowledge-based interactions.

Sales enablement differs from sales training because it is the strategic organization and implementation of resources (both technology and teams) to align on the common goal of increasing sales. Sales training is processes used to teach sales skills in order to close deals and is one part of the larger sales enablement strategy.

Example: Sales enablement helps align the technology and people within a company by providing them with the knowledge, resources and alignment to achieve sales growth.

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[sayls fuh·nuhl]

A sales funnel is a marketing model that illustrates the journey of a consumer leading up to the point of purchase. It serves as a visual representation of the steps a consumer takes before buying something.

The sales funnel usually consists of a top, middle, and bottom, but may be broken down into as many as six stages. The top of the funnel represents the awareness stage in which a consumer becomes aware of the product or service. The middle of the funnel is the interest stage wherein consumers learn about the product or service and how it can help them. The bottom of the funnel represents the decision stage wherein a consumer is actively making the decision of whether or not to purchase.

Example: A low-touch sales funnel is a simplified buying journey where there are minimal steps from awareness to point of purchase.

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[saylz pipe·line]

A sales pipeline is a marketing model for understanding the steps and opportunities in a sales process. It is represented visually as a a vertical bar broken into the various different stages of the sales cycle. It is used to summarize through an easy to understand visual representation, all the deal opportunities available to a sales or partnerships manager. The sales pipeline is an important tool used to project revenue and determine leaks or bottlenecks in the sales process.

There are seven widely accepted steps in a sales pipeline: prospecting, lead qualification, meeting and demo, proposal, negotiations, closing the deal and retention.

Not to be confused with a sales funnel, the sales pipeline tracks data around deals, while the sales funnel focuses more specifically on leads. The two terms are often used interchangeably, though they represent distinct sets of data.

Example: A sales pipeline is a helpful tool within a sophisticated CRM that helps serve sales teams in growing revenue.

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[sayls spiff]

A sales spiff is a sales performance incentive fund (often written with an extra "f"), which is a short-term incentive used to motivate sales representatives. Sales spiffs can incentivize sales rep engagement and help to meet immediate sales goals.

A sales spiff requires a set sales goal and an incentive, often a financial incentive or another kind of reward like prizes, recognition, or time off. A successful sales spiff requires a clear objective, a clear articulation of how reps will achieve the goal, a timeframe, a budget, and an incentive. When planning a sales spiff, consider the risk of sandbagging (when reps know a spiff is coming so they wait to close deals they could close earlier) and creating an overly competitive work environment (team spiffs rather than individual spiffs can help avoid this).

Example: Kristin was noticing a drop in new leads and sales rep engagement. She planned a sales spiff for her team wherein if they brought in 500 new leads by the end of the quarter, they each received a $500 bonus. The reps worked hard to meet the goal and were happy with their bonus cash.

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Segmentation is a useful tool for categorizing partners within your partnership program. Segments are based on one or a combination of many tags. You can provide various segments with personalized attention in the form of specific engagement campaigns, educational resources, enablement events, or reward schemes.

Common ways to segment your partners include: By type of organization (e.g. universities, agencies, SaaS companies), job role (e.g. consultants, students, influencers), by loocation (e.g. North America, LatAm, and EMEA), by partnership tier (silver, gold, and platinum tiers — where higher sellers get a larger revenue cut).

Example: Using PartnerStack's platform, you can leverage the data around your existing partner base to create segments.

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Strategic partnerships are relationships between two entities (most commonly two companies) with overlapping or complementary products or services that aim to achieve a mutually beneficial result. Strategic partnerships are also commonly referred to as an alliance or joint venture.

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Upselling is the act of persuading a customer who is already making a purchase to switch their lower tier choice for a more premium option.
Upselling is a common sales tactic in both B2C and B2B marketing. Upselling is similar to cross-selling, which is when a salesperson persuades a customer to add additional complementary products to their purchase.

In B2B SaaS, this might be a longer subscription, or a more premium package that offers additional features or add-ons. In partnerships, your ecosystem partners can upsell or cross-sell your SaaS product to their existing customers as an effective marketing technique. Upselling is particularly effective when two SaaS companies partner together to offer a more inclusive service package of their complementary products.

Example: Ecosystem partners can up the value of each customer by employing upselling and cross-selling tactics.

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