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The IBM Cloud Marketplace is a digital platform that serves as a center for B2B SaaS partnerships within the IBM Cloud ecosystem. It provides a curated selection of software solutions and services that are specifically designed to seamlessly integrate with the IBM Cloud infrastructure, helping businesses to enhance their cloud-based operations and hit their goals.

The marketplace encourages collaboration between B2B SaaS vendors and businesses by offering a streamlined environment for discovering, evaluating and deploying innovative applications that cater to diverse industry needs. This empowers enterprises to access cutting-edge technologies that can optimize their workflows, enhance productivity and drive business growth.

The IBM Cloud Marketplace streamlines the procurement process, providing a central location for businesses to explore and compare various software offerings, assess their compatibility with existing systems and make informed purchasing decisions. Additionally, the platform offers resources and support to help businesses successfully implement and integrate the chosen solutions into their IBM Cloud environment. The IBM Cloud Marketplace is driving the adoption of cloud technologies and helping businesses to harness the full potential of the IBM Cloud platform.


Tanya's software company gained significant exposure and traction by listing its cutting-edge cybersecurity solution on the IBM Cloud Marketplace, enabling businesses to fortify their data protection strategies within the comprehensive IBM Cloud ecosystem.


An ideal customer profile (ICP) defines the demographics and behaviors of an organization's most valuable potential customer. Definining an ICP is crucial for success in SaaS as it acts as a blueprint for your perfect customer that can help market towards them. It's not just about demographics, but a comprehensive picture of the companies and individuals that benefit most from your software.

An effective ICP goes beyond generic descriptions to hone in on things like challenges  they face, their company culture, who the decision-makers are within their organization and more.

By considering firmographics (company size, industry), technographics (existing software used) and even psychographics (decision-making style), you create a targeted profile of your ideal end customer.

This ICP acts as a guiding star for your marketing and sales teams. It informs content creation, tailors advertising campaigns and helps identify the most promising leads. By focusing on acquiring customers that truly align with your ICP, you'll see increased sales, happier clients and less churn. In short, a well-defined ICP is the key to attracting the right B2B customers for your SaaS product.


After analyzing their customer base, the SaaS company realized their ideal customer profile (ICP) wasn't just startups, but mid-market organizations with a strong digital presence.


An ideal partner profile (sometimes called an ideal partner persona) is a research-based profile that describes the traits and characteristics of your best-fit partners. It can be a valuable tool for recruiting more high-value partners and catering to their needs to enable them to succeed.

An ideal partner profile is similar to an ideal customer profile. It involves a detailed description of a partner that would benefit most from your program and who would be the most engaged and successful. Attributes to consider include company size, industry, their customers, their culture and values, and their product. Once you have a sense of who your ideal partner is, you can tailor your program and its marketing to this kind of partner.


Lulu created an ideal partner program for her channel partner program. She determined the ideal partner was a midmarket software company with a similar customer base and a similar work culture and value set.


An inactive partner is a partner in a partnership program who, despite having joined, has not actively contributed to the success of the partnership or generated any meaningful value for the business. This inactivity can manifest in various ways, such as failing to send leads or traffic, not generating sales or simply not engaging with the program's resources and initiatives.

There are several potential reasons for partner inactivity. It could be due to a lack of understanding of the program's benefits, insufficient resources or support, competing priorities or simply a lack of interest or motivation. Identifying the root cause of inactivity is key for developing effective reactivation strategies.

Inactive partners can be categorized into two main types: those who never activate after joining the program and those who become inactive after a period of activity. In both cases, it's essential to proactively address inactivity to prevent the partnership from deteriorating further.

To reactivate inactive partners, companies can use various strategies, such as offering additional training and support, providing personalized incentives, conducting regular check-ins and feedback sessions, and highlighting the benefits of active participation. It's also important to maintain open communication channels and address any concerns or challenges that partners may be facing. Reactivating inactive partners can be a valuable investment, as it can unlock untapped potential and increase revenue generation.


After realizing a referral partner hasn't sent any leads in several months, the partner manager considered them an inactive partner.


Inbound recruitment, formerly referred to as passive recruitment, is the process of attracting new potential partners to your program that arrive as inbound traffic. This means they find your business and program on their own, rather than through you going out and pitching your program to them.

An essential part of inbound recruitment is an excellent landing page for your program, which is where potential new partners will learn about its benefits and see how they can apply. Partners found through inbound recruitment may not be a perfect fit for your program, but they come with an established level of interest. It's important to vet them through an application process to only establish partnerships with the right counterparts.


Luna spent a lot of time refining her partner program landing page so that inbound partners could have a smooth, informative beginning to the recruitment process.


Strong incentive programs play a crucial role in driving mutual success in partnerships. Incentive programs are structured initiatives that motivate your ecosystem partners to actively promote and sell your SaaS solution to end customers. By offering rewards tied to specific achievements, you incentivize partners to invest time, resources and expertise in growing your business together.

B2B SaaS incentive programs are evolving beyond traditional financial rewards like strictly monetary commission payouts. Companies are recognizing the value of offering a multi-faceted approach that caters to different partner motivations. This might include:

-Financial incentives: Commissions, rebates, or revenue sharing based on sales generated through partner efforts.

-Marketing and sales support:  Co-branded marketing materials, training programs for partner teams, or lead generation campaigns to accelerate partner success.

-Early access to new features and product updates:  Allowing partners to showcase the latest innovations to their customers, creating a competitive edge.

-Recognition and rewards: Publicly acknowledging top-performing partners and offering exclusive benefits like early or exclusive access to events or industry recognition programs.

Related: These are the partner commissions that work.


Building incentive programs that attract right-fit partners is a critical step in setting up your ecosystem to drive revenue success.


Incrementality is a metric used to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing and partnership efforts in driving desired outcomes, such as increased revenue, website traffic and overall profitability. Incrementality measures the additional growth, traffic, and revenue directly attributable to specific marketing actions, campaigns or channels. By isolating and quantifying the impact of these marketing variables, businesses can better understand the true value and return on investment (ROI) of their marketing strategies.

To accurately assess incrementality, marketers often use methodologies such as holdout tests and multivariate tests. Holdout tests involve creating a control group that is excluded from a marketing effort, allowing for a comparison against the group that does. This helps in determining the net effect of the marketing effort. Multivariate tests, on the other hand, look at the impact of multiple variables simultaneously to understand how different factors contribute to the overall outcome.

The primary goal of measuring incrementality is to prove the direct impact of marketing activities, and make sure that resources are allocated efficiently. By understanding which campaigns or channels are truly driving incremental value, businesses can make data-driven decisions to extend their marketing spend and boost performance.


To test the incrementality of a new newsletter design, Cole ran a holdout test with two subject groups. He found that the new design increased click-through rates by 6 per cent, demonstrating the significant impact of the redesign on user engagement.


An independent software vendor (ISV) creates, markets, and sells software that runs on one or more computer operating systems (OS) or cloud platforms. In other words, an ISV is a company that distributes its own software. ISVs often distribute their software on marketplaces. Hardware providers, operating systems, and cloud platforms can all offer ISVs on their marketplace, but they'll only accept, or ISV certify, the ones with the best or most relevant software.

Independent software vendors build software for human use, which distinguishes them from original equipment manufacturers (OEM) who normally develop software for backend use. Computer hardware and operating system companies (for example, Microsoft, Apple, and Google) often include ISVs in special partnership programs. This is because the more applications that can run on a platform, the more value it can generate for the platform provider.

When it comes to cloud computing, ISVs often sell their software on a software as a service (SaaS) basis, through platforms like SalesForce AppExchange and Microsoft Azure.


Joino developed its own software, which was ISV certified on Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS sold the software to end users, and Joino enjoyed a healthy profit.


An indirect channel is a sales channel where a product or service is sold to the end user through intermediaries rather than directly from the company. These intermediaries can include distributors, wholesalers, retailers, value-added resellers (VARs) or other independent partners. In this model, the company relies on the expertise and network of these partners to reach a wider audience and facilitate the sales process.

Indirect channels offer several advantages for companies. They can use the existing relationships and established customer base of their partners to expand their market reach and speed up the sales cycles. By outsourcing the sales process to intermediaries, companies can focus on their core competencies, such as product development and marketing, while their partners handle the complexities of sales, distribution and customer support. Reseller programs are a common example of indirect channels. In this model, partners sell a company's product on their behalf, adding their own value-added services or expertise to differentiate their offerings. This allows companies to tap into specialized markets and leverage the partner's industry knowledge and connections.


An indirect channel allows users to easily find your services through wholesale distributors that may already have a built-in customer base.


Indirect sales is a strategic sales approach where partners, such as resellers, agencies or affiliate marketers, sell a company’s products and services to customers and there is no direct contact between the company and the buyer.

Unlike direct sales, where companies sell their products or services directly to customers, indirect sales channels tap into the partner's existing customer base and expertise. This model is particularly suited for B2B SaaS companies looking to rapidly scale their operations while reducing overhead costs associated with building and maintaining a large sales team.

In the indirect sales model, the partner organization acts as an intermediary between the company and the end customer, handling sales, marketing and sometimes even customer support. This allows the company to focus on other areas of growth while using the partner's established relationships and industry knowledge to accelerate sales cycles.

Some benefits of indirect sales include:

  • Rapid Scalability: Use the partner's existing network to quickly reach a wider audience.
  • Reduced Overhead: Lower sales and marketing costs by utilizing the partner's resources.
  • Market Expansion: Access new markets and customer segments through the partner's expertise.
  • Enhanced Credibility: Build trust and credibility through established partners.

Through their indirect sales partnership with an affiliate agency, the HR software startup was able to go-to-market and triple their customer base within a year.


In marketing, an influencer, sometimes referred to as a content creator, is someone who can sway purchasing decisions within a specific industry or target market through promotional efforts.

Promotion is usually done on social media, through blog sites, or other means. B2B influencers often possess specialized knowledge, expertise or a significant following within their niche, allowing them to effectively promote products or services to a receptive audience. They are typically industry thought leaders, analysts, consultants or even other businesses with a strong reputation and established network.

Influencer marketing in the B2B space can take various forms, from LinkedIn endorsements and blog posts to speaking engagements and participation in industry events. By leveraging an influencer's credibility, companies can build brand awareness, generate leads and ultimately drive sales.

Compensation for influencer marketing can range from one-time payments for specific campaigns to ongoing revenue-sharing models through affiliate marketing programs. Influencers are an increasingly valuable asset for B2B companies looking to quickly build trust with audiences and quickly drive new customers.


A new project management software partnered with B2B influencers on Youtube to create personalized tutorials of their product. The influencers included a link in the description, driving hundreds of new leads.


Integrations, in B2B SaaS, are third-party applications that enhance the functionality of other existing software.

Integrations encompass a wide range of use cases, allowing businesses to automate data exchange, streamline processes, enhance data visibility and improve reporting capabilities.

Integrations can be simple, such as connecting a CRM system to an email marketing platform to automate lead nurturing campaigns. Or they can be complex, such as integrating multiple systems to create a fully automated supply chain management solution.

This collaboration allows businesses to create a more unified and integrated tech stack, where data flows seamlessly between all the different tools.

B2B SaaS companies will often partner together to sell their software and integrations to their overlapping customer base. B2B integrations are useful in building healthy recurring revenue as they can help reduce customer churn by building on processes and workflows.

Integrations also tend to increase annual contract values, meaning there will be more overall revenue earned.

To learn more about integrations, see our State of Integrations report.


A B2B supply chain software provider enhanced their solution by seamlessly integrating with Amazon, enabling customers to automate order fulfillment and tracking, minimize manual errors and optimize their overall workflow efficiency.


An integration partner, often referred to as a technology partner, is a software vendor whose product connects with another company's software.

By integrating together, these partners offer a more holistic and valuable solution to customers. In this unified partner ecosystem, customers can easily access a wide range of tools to add to their tech stack without experiencing any technical issues.

Integration partners can also benefit a company’s partner program by expanding audience reach. By tapping into each other's networks and customer bases, they can fuel lead generation and brand awareness at the same time. This includes the opportunity to work on co-marketing initiatives together.

Integration partners often follow a revenue-sharing model, earning a percentage of the revenue generated through their referral or co-selling efforts. This mutually beneficial arrangement creates an environment where partners are motivated to drive sales and maximize customer value.

By integrating with complementary solutions, B2B companies can gain a competitive edge and differentiate themselves from their competition, expand their market reach, and offer better solutions to customers.

Read more: How to prioritize integration partners.


For PartnerStack, account mapping software companies are some of the most valuable integration partners because they help customers close deals faster.