As we enter the final quarter of a still somewhat turbulent year, I think back to the summer where many of us met face to face for the first time in more than a year at RetailNOW in Nashville.
What stands out most from that event? To me, it is the immense force that is this group of VAR and ISV partners. “Partners” here being the operative word. Of all the competitiveness that we see inside of this retail and hospitality channel, the truth that each of us know is that without the strength generated by our partnerships, we would all be but a fraction of what we are today.
The software world is SaaS. I used to say “new world,” but SaaS is status quo. All of us are now familiar with the reality that we each make smaller per-month revenues on each customer for our core products. What can we do to make more per customer? Partner.
If we look at partnerships in our space, they take two forms: selling partnerships and referral partnerships. On the selling side, nearly every VAR I’ve had the pleasure of working with sells a few different products in their business, some recurring and some not. Some have even verticalized and grown into Hybrid VAR/ISVs. Certainly the ability to sell products as a VAR is critical to owning your destiny as a business. However, today I want to touch on referral partnerships, as I believe they are underrated in our current environment and ultimately, are crucial to maximizing your potential as a business.
The challenge each of us faces is twofold: How many areas can we be experts in to grow our business, and where does the law of diminishing returns set in when our focus is too broad and shallow to achieve our business goals? That challenge grows with each complex product we sell, especially in the software space. Learning and managing several complex systems to sell is hard, and to develop them is even harder. But merchants today need a suite of products to support their business, and will ultimately find the products they need whether your business can properly sell and support those products or not.
The solution to this situation is finding referral partners who you can lean on to help bring your customers what they need without you needing to be an expert in — or own — the support of all those products.
At Heartland, we believe in the value of referral partnerships and live that value everyday in the ecosystem we call Stronger Together. Below are some specific observations about the advantages of referral partnerships, and while some may seem obvious, every VAR should absolutely consider these as you look to bring on partners.
Referral relationships should financially benefit both parties. Entrusting your merchant relationships with a partner is a benefit to them, and you should make something for those referrals, either up-front or on a recurring basis.
Referral relationships are sticky. It is difficult for a merchant to fire multiple providers at one time. Your partner should be looking out for your interest in the account just as you look out for theirs.
Referral relationships lead to much easier sales and new business. I see almost daily instances where referrals help our Dealer partners acquire new business. They often come from sectors that have nothing to do with retail or restaurant POS specifically, but find their way through the network of partners that are intertwined throughout their local communities.
Sell what you’re best at and refer the rest. It will help you grow scalably and make your business stronger.
When it comes to keeping up with the constant growth and changes of the SaaS market, it really does take a village. You need a partner whose software and support you can trust. That’s where we come in. Heartland Dealers and their clients enjoy secure, reliable, cost-effective POS solutions backed by decades of payments expertise. Ready to grow stronger together? Contact us today.