The world of software purchasing is evolving rapidly, and buyers are taking a different approach to evaluate which products to invest in.
One of the key criteria that they're now considering is the number of integrations that a product has. In fact, integrations are the #3 most important factor for B2B software buyers.
This is because end-users prefer software that easily integrates with the tools they use regularly, making their workflows more efficient.
Consequently, integration partners have become a key part of go-to-market strategies.
If you're looking to build a partner program or grow your existing integration partner ecosystem, this blog post is for you.
We'll delve into the significance of integration partners, why buyers care about integrations, and the details involved in integration partnerships.
We'll also discuss different options for building integrations, such as joint build and iPaaS, and whether you should charge for them.
By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of how to leverage integration partners to boost your software's adoption and enhance your overall business performance.
What is an integration partner?
An integration partner (aka tech partner) is a SaaS company with whom you’ve built an integration and relationship. You have mutual customers and prospects, a similar ideal customer profile, and the relationship is beneficial to both companies.
An integration partnership is initiated when you decide to build the integration itself. But it takes a step further when you begin co-marketing and co-selling, exchanging industry information, and introducing each other to new partners.
Integration partnerships are an essential element in building an ecosystem business model.
Why build integrations?
In this article about building an ecosystem business model we explore the option to “build, buy, or partner” in order to solve key product needs.
But what about the option of “build integration” or “don’t build integration.” I.e., why should you integrate with another software at all?
Many businesses decide to build integrations for two reasons: 1) because customers are asking for them and 2) in order to create a strategic alliance with the other business. But whatever the impetus is for deciding to build, there are benefits that go along with every product integration.
Streamline customer experiences
Employees use, on average, 4-5 programs daily – just at work. These tools often provide one or a few key solutions, but not all of them.
Imagine a customer service representative’s day-to-day tech stack. They may use Zendesk for support tickets, chat, and email; Salesforce for ongoing customer relationship management; and Aircall to record phone calls. It would be a nightmare to manually sync all of their data and still efficiently provide good support
By building integrations with the tools your customers already use every day, you improve their overall experience using your software.
Make more sales
Buyers don’t just appreciate a streamlined experience anymore – they expect it. In fact, 52% of marketers describe their martech stack as an integrated, multi–system architecture. It’s no wonder integrations were named the #1 most important buying factor.
What does that mean? To make the sale, you need the integration. Period.
That doesn’t mean building integrations to every software in the world – but strategically finding the ones most important to your ideal customers and building those.
Build industry relationships
When you build an integration, you also open up a relationship with the company you connected to. I.e., you now have an integration partner.
With your new partner you can launch co-marketing campaigns, compare industry and persona research, cross-sell each others’ products, and leverage the relationship in other ways.
How to find the right integration partners for your company
No company, no matter how big, has the time and resources to build an integration with every software that might be useful. So how do you find the right integration partners to prioritize?
If you expect to build an integration into the other tool (or be highly involved in the process), follow these steps to create your roadmap.
- Collect a list of integrations requested by your customers and how often they are requested.
- Look at the companies your competitors integrate with. Are any of them prominent in your industry?
- Analyze your ideal customer profile (ICP) and identify which other softwares they’re using. What might be the best integration to streamline their processes?
Take your list of potential partners and rank them in order of potential revenue from the partnership. Then, after getting internal buy-in, start reaching out to begin discussions with their partnerships, integrations, and product teams.
These discussions can take some time, so reach out to your top integration partners first and keep going down the line, prioritizing in order of revenue potential.
How to build an integration with your tech partner
While the advantages of integration partners are plentiful, constructing the actual integration can be quite challenging.
Let's explore the various methods you can employ to develop integrations with prospective partners:
One approach to building integrations is to collaborate and share the workload by developing the integration jointly.
If both companies recognize the value of building an integration and see a significant addressable market to reach, a joint build can be a viable option.
By working together, both parties can share the workload and costs of building the integration, as well as have a joint commitment to the integration's success.
However, a joint build strategy can also be challenging.
Clear communication and coordination are essential for a successful project and both companies must align on the project scope, timeline, and budget, and agree on how to divide the work and overall responsibilities.
API (one-sided build)
If only one party sees the benefit of an integration, or if a smaller company wants to integrate with a larger technology player, there is an option to build the integration on top of the company's APIs.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) facilitate communication between different software systems.
In this scenario, a company's developers can leverage their APIs to build the necessary integration. This approach allows for a faster and more cost-effective integration, as it eliminates the need for a joint build or other complex integration approaches.
Another option to quickly build software integrations is with an iPaaS solution.
iPaaS solutions offer pre-built connectors and APIs. You can integrate systems quickly without having to build custom integrations from scratch. This approach can save you significant time and developer resources on both sides.
The major advantage of using an iPaaS solution is speed. You can create integrations in days and quickly scale your robust integration strategy to fit customer needs and market conditions.
These solutions offer a range of pre-built connectors and APIs, as well as tools for building custom integrations.
Leveraging the integration partnership
Too many companies fall into the trap of “if we build it, they will come.” Integration partnerships need to be promoted just like any other feature, and can help you build your business, too.
As you build the integration, start discussing some of these initiatives with your partners.
How can you and your partner promote the integration together? Here are some ideas:
- Get the integration listed in both your marketplaces, on your site and embedded in your apps.
- Create joint solution sheets, one-pagers, webinars, case studies, and blog posts.
- Announce the integration via in-app notifications, email, social media, and paid channels.
- Add the integration to your onboarding series.
Be creative and thorough when you promote your integration and make sure your partner is on the same page.
Offer higher tier partners the options for sales team training, demo environments, regular meetings with your partner team, executive meetings to strategize GTM, and sales pipeline visibility.
Remember to use account mapping tools like Crossbeam or Reveal to identify customer overlap and target accounts better.
Learn more about ecosystem business model
Continuing to build out and promote your tech partners and integrations is a key part of growing your business through an ecosystem business model.
Get a free consultation to learn how you can better promote tech partnerships with an integration and ecosystem marketplace. Book a time today.