Guru's Verification engine ensures consistency, confidence, and trust in the knowledge your organization shares. Learn more.

Partner Program Incentive Structure Strategy

Session Purpose

Helping partner teams:

  • Deconstruct their current partner incentives

  • Add more creative and interesting incentives

  • Produce a final incentive structure that is attractive to their IPPs 

The First Step, Consider the IPP:

  • Are they referral + management + implementation? 

  • Or, are they pure referral partners who want nothing to do with implementing or managing?

  • Knowing which category the agency falls into, we can start building the *incentives for that persona.

    • *This is just a document or page that’s sent out to strategic affiliate partners by sales or partner team.

What’s really attractive to agencies? 

These first few are “table stakes” - they will be decided on before the agency replies to your first message:

  • Alignment - the agencies that you want to work with are aligned with your values, they have a great reputation and deliver on their promises.

  • Product - while this is clear on your side what are examples of packages that other partners have created around your product that are getting results for clients and are profitable.

  • Price point - Is it competitive - can it be profitable - is there margin for commission?  

  • Free and sponsored co-marketing (see email example below)

    • [Sponsored] MDF funds - marketing development funds

      • “I have a budget for the right opportunities to co-market with my partners.”

        • Use “I” not “We” so the agency knows they are talking to the right person. Even if you have to get approval, maintain control over that partnership so your agencies do not feel they are wasting time getting on calls with you.

    • [Free] Highlights in the blog

      • MUST BE A DO-FOLLOW BACKLINK - do not mention this highlight if your marketing team will not make their backlink do-follow.

    • [Free] White Label Decks

  • Referrals

    • Directory listing:

      • GOOD directory example - highlights the agency, expertise, examples, backlink, their own landing page…

      • BAD example = DOMO - no unique pages, everyone is on the same page which makes it hard to find agencies for their traffic… 

    • Implementation partner status

    • An actual profile for your partners - a landing page on your domain

  • Sales support 

    • Sales process templates

    • Leads and good quality leads

  • Training

    • Training on how to sell, service, and market - make these short and effective

  • Commissions

    • More important will be where the agency can make a good profit on service 

Great example - the page and incentives section of Justcall’s partner program:

Screenshot Capture - 2020-10-30 - 22-07-44.png

  • Look at the URL - focused on one persona

  • Check the incentives section - in particular - the co-marketing and highlighting of their partners: 

    • Co-marketing Opportunities - We will do quarterly co-marketing activities with our HubSpot agency partners. Co-marketing activities include webinars, Twitter chat, videos/podcasts, PR, case studies & more.”

    • Extra Visibility - "Every HubSpot agency partner will get extra visibility on JustCall in the form of a logo on our partner program page, a dedicated page about your services, and a blog post announcing our partnership.”

The Backstory:

  • JustCall's marketing manager pushed hard for an Agency Partnerships initiative because he did not see it happening in their space for agencies. 

  • Every day he wakes up and checks the usage of agency-clients/partners on the platform for those that have usage spikes.

  • Then, he reaches out to them to offer the agency to upgrade their client to an annual plan through them, as the partner. 

  • This became the largest deal in the company's history.

  • Among the incentives they chose to lead with was support.

Incentive-Attractiveness Grid (rank yours based on feedback)

Possible IncentiveAttractiveness Rank (for your agencies)
Rev Share/Agency Pricing5
Dedicated Technical Partner Manager6
Agency Level account7
Partner toolkit8
Sales Support4
Co-marketing content2
Marketing Development Fund3
Referrals / Shared pipeline1

Create a survey to find out what your agencies care about. 

Here’s one we did for AudioEye on ADA compliance:

Here are some answers when we asked agencies to tell us which of the incentives are most appealing (in order):

  • Referrals / shared pipeline

  • Sales support / enablement
    Robust agency portal with client account management features

  • Commissions or discounts

  • Accessibility training and education

  • Dedicated agency manager

*Note - when asked, some agencies will say commissions matter because they do in the long term, but… make sure you ask the right way to ensure they are answering for today - what would make them want to progress to the next phase today… 

And here are those incentives they said were least appealing: 

  • Bulk licenses

  • Dedicated agency manager

  • Robust agency portal with client account management features

  • Accessibility training and education

  • Sales support / enablement

6-week new partner manager ramp-up schedule: 

  • Week 1 - Reach out to all agencies in their target audience who are users/partners today. Speak only about the agency needs - ask only about their agency - empathy, curiosity - take notes. NO TALKING ABOUT THE PROGRAM OR PRODUCT.

  • Week 2 - Same

  • Week 3 - Digest, organize, debrief with their CEO + Director

  • Week 4 - Product knowledge

  • Week 5 - Strategy for the next outreach phase

  • Week 6 - Reaching back out to the agencies whom the CEO + Director have an answer / solution for (this puts that new partner manager into the value-add position, not the annoying sales position). 

What your team should be reading:

Entrepreneurs vs Employee mindset - understand the differences 


Next steps:

  1. Understand the mindset of an Agency Owner, learn, and read.

  2. Find out what challenges they are experiencing and what they need help with next in their business.

  3. Listen to podcasts for Agencies - Agency Life, Agency Journey, Drew McClellan, Jason Swenk are just a few.

Example outreach email from a saas to an agency: 

Mary from Chatfuel here (a no-code platform for building Messenger chatbots). We run a weekly YouTube show for our audience of business owners and marketers, and I'd love to have you join us as an expert guest on the upcoming episode!
The topic is "How to Launch a Profitable, Wildly Successful Shopify Store". I know our audience will benefit from your expertise!
We promote each show to our audience of:
9k+ YouTube subscribers
12k+ Twitter followers
75k+ FB community members
Plus, it's not a live show, which means we'll send you the questions and have you record video responses on your own schedule—whenever works for you.
Finally, we'll give you a free Chatfuel Pro account as a thank-you for participating. You can use it to automate lead generation, FAQs, ecommerce, and more through your Facebook page.
Let me know if you're interested in joining us on the show and we can talk specifics!
  1. She leaves the product mention to one short sentence - not a long explanation with features.

  2. She says and bold's the phrase "expert guest" - agency founders HAVE to show thought leadership to keep their agency demand gen efforts going. This talks directly to those founders.

  3. She lists the reach of the co-marketing.

  4. And, she gives this agency a free account.