After reading this title, you may be thinking, “What do reviews have to do with partnerships?”. And that’s fair. Typically, online reviews fit squarely in marketing’s domain. But what if we told you that customer reviews were a pathway to partner engagement and partner-sourced revenue?
In this article, we explain why partner managers should care about customer reviews and how they can leverage partners to get the right reviews in front of the right prospects — ultimately closing more partner-led deals.
Why are SaaS reviews important?
Not long ago, the B2B buying process operated like the public stock market. Analysts provided their “expert” input, and buyers read their opinions. After deciding which of those analysts they believed most, buyers would schedule demos for the top two SaaS vendors the analyst advocated for, and pick one. Done and dusted.
Today’s buyers aren’t so trusting. Partner teams know this. That’s why they develop relationships with other companies that have built that trust already. But partners aren’t the only influence on a buyer’s decision.
In a recent Forrester survey, 90 per cent of business professionals thought B2B buyers completely or somewhat trusted peers in their industry. And according to Demand Gen, that’s true — colleagues (46%) and user reviews (35%) are the most valuable sources for business software buyers. What they’re looking for is unbiased, genuine social proof.
What can partner managers do about that? Turns out, a lot. To learn more, we chatted with Joe Kevens, Director of Demand Generation at PartnerStack and are sharing five tips for sourcing partner revenue through reviews.
5 ways partner managers can unlock the power of reviews
1. Reevaluate the review sites you’re encouraging customers to use
Not all B2B SaaS review sites cater to the same prospects. Kevens points out that:
“In general, I would say Gartner Peer Insights has the ear of the enterprise. G2 serves basically every market. TrustRadius and PeerSpot (formerly known as IT Central Station) tend to focus on mid-market. Capterra captures small SaaS businesses. And Trustpilot is good for B2C-B2B hybrids.”
If you’re establishing a new partner category, Gartner may not even pick up your product. With 2M+ reviews, it may cost too much money to make your product stand out on G2. If you want to score enterprise-grade deals, you probably won’t get high-quality leads from Capterra.
There’s a lot of differentiation among review sites. And while customer marketers could be pointing customers in the right direction, they also may not be. Don’t let your customers sing your praises into the void. Instead, consult your partners.
They know which reviews have made a difference in their sales cycle, and, presumably, they’re serving a similar (even the same) market. If there’s a discrepancy between where your customers post reviews and where their customers post, you might need to encourage your customer marketers to make a move by putting out a call for reviews through email marketing or providing incentives for them to do so.
2. Find review affiliates who can amplify your SaaS brand
Big-name SaaS review sites can’t be the only place your company’s name shows up — remember, today’s buyers are all about comprehensive due diligence. One way to appear more often in their search is to pursue niche software review sites.
Kevens advises, “If I were a partner manager, I’d view companies or influencers that put out review-like content as potential affiliates. They can turn reviews directly into partner-sourced revenue.”
Here’s how he would find and leverage them:
- Google “best X software” for the software category your product fits into and see which review sites pop up in search results. For example, if you're a partner manager at PartnerStack, you'd search "best partnerships software".
- Scroll down past the top SaaS review sites until sites like Growann, P2P Marketing, SaaSGenius, and Software Advice appear. You might even see some “Best X Tools” roundup blogs from non-competitive product review websites like PC Mag.
- Identify a few of those to reach out to.
- Ask if they track prospects visiting their site and are open to affiliate links or a referral commission structure. Even if they don’t, they may feature your company as a “Favorite Partner” or “Software Recommendation”, promote lead magnets like a how-to guide or competitor analysis or share a free trial or freemium signup link for a flat fee.
Review syndication is a win-win — the publisher gets a kickback for showcasing your product to a narrower, more captive audience, and you get more partner-sourced revenue.
Kevens shared that this approach works especially well for software solutions sold at a lower price point, “If you sell a PLG product, the more likely an affiliate review site will work. There’s a high chance of your buyers going online, searching for “best X software,” and making a decision based off of those niche review sites.”
3. Use software reviews in partner enablement
Partners are always hungry for more material they can use to sell your product, and bland one-pagers only go so far. “Reviews can be a great way to help partners use the voice of the customer when selling your solution,” says Kevens.
He encourages partner managers to comb through the best reviews to pinpoint the words they tend to use to describe their problems and the ways your product solves them. Then, add those to all possible partner touch points in the buyer’s journey: reseller sales scripts, templated slides, case studies, and other jointly-created collateral, like paid ads.
Doing this will help partners feel more prepared going into discovery calls and make prospects feel like they’re talking to someone who truly understands their problems, making them more likely to turn into partner-sourced revenue down the line.
4. Get partners to ask mutual customers for reviews.
Your partners have one-on-one connections to your customers just like you do. And they’re probably looking to gain more reviews as well. So why not run a campaign to get joint reviews?
Customers who leave reviews for your product and your partners’ products could get entered into a raffle for a sought-after prize or discounted premium plan.
Reviews that spotlight your product and a partner’s product or service are free advertising for both parties, highlight the strength of your partnership, and add to the total number of peer reviews you and your partners have.
Note: Be sure these are verified reviews with reliable data. Potential customers can spot fake reviews from a mile away and instantly distrust your brand on principle.
5. Take advantage of software marketplaces.
You probably have integrations listed in your partners’ catalogs, and that’s good. But getting reviews on those listings is even better. And guess what? Not many folks have prioritized that yet.
Kevens says, “App marketplaces are the next frontier for reviews. One-third of SaaS companies have one. That’s a huge opportunity for integrators and implementers to get in front of their partners’ customers, but few are capitalizing on it.”
At PartnerStack, we’ve recognized HubSpot’s marketplace as one of our most promising partner lead gen plays. When we turn our review generation efforts to marketplaces, the HubSpot App Marketplace will be at the top of our list because we know it gets a lot of views — particularly from HubSpot customers who could benefit from a PRM.
Plus, the hyper-targeted product classifications in their catalog get customers who are interested in the PRM product category to our listing faster. But marketplace reviews aren’t just for demand gen; they’re also a mechanism for providing great customer experiences.
Internally, we know our customers get the most out of PartnerStack after integrating it with their CRM. So if a HubSpot marketplace review convinces a prospect to explore PartnerStack, we know that once the integration is in place, they’ll have greater PartnerStack activation, and the stickier our product will be.
And we’re not the only ones who’ve realized this.
Influitive, a customer advocacy platform, has 89 reviews on the Salesforce AppExchange marketplace with an average 4.83 review score. Generating these reviews increases the number of buyers who come in through the AppExchange, gets more users to use the Influitive integration, and increases a user's likelihood of renewing Influitive (and Salesforce) contracts.
Go above and beyond with reviews
Customer reviews aren’t just a marketing strategy. They’re a little-known gold mine for partner managers, especially ones who like to get creative when sourcing partner deals.
Implementing these tactics may take some trial and error. But once something clicks, you’ll get all the glory — if you’re on top of your partner management game.
PartnerStack, the leading partner platform for SaaS companies, is here to help you get and keep your partners on track. Schedule a demo to see why over 500 companies trust us to source new partners, track their contributions, and facilitate payouts.