How to Land Your Next Strategic Partnership (and Build Your Reputation in the Market)

How to Land Your Next Strategic Partnership (and Build Your Reputation in the Market)

Olivia Ramirez 9 min

By Olivia Ramirez

August 7, 2023


In the early days of bringing your SaaS product to market, the right strategic partner can do wonders for helping you break into new accounts and growing your customer base.


Before you have extensive customer advocacy, value statements, and case studies, a well-connected partner can help establish your reputation in the market. When your partner sees the capabilities of your product firsthand and how it complements their own, they can vouch for you to their entire Ecosystem of customers and partners. (Can you see the wins tallying up before your eyes?)


But first, you have to show your product’s value to your potential partner. A target strategic partner for you is a target strategic partner for many, and it may be difficult to get a partner pitch meeting on the books. When you do, you’ll need to be thoughtful about how you use your partner’s time and what you say to prove the value of your potential partnership.


Thanks to open APIs, you can build an integration with your potential partner’s product well before you hop on a Zoom call. Then, you can gather proof of your integration’s success and bring the most compelling data to your first meeting.


Kashish Gupta, Co-Founder & Co-CEO at Hightouch, says that his team has invested in building integrations with their target strategic partners’ products via open APIs. Then, they observe the impact and communicate the value of their integrations using the metrics their partners care about most. For example: If their partner prioritizes retention, then Hightouch’s team speaks directly to how their integration has helped improve retention, renewals, and other related metrics for their partner.  


By showing the benefit of their integrations through their partner’s perspective, Hightouch’s team was able to get buy-in from their top strategic partners early on and secure long-term investments in co-selling and co-marketing. Today, partners influence more than 50% of Hightouch’s revenue. Hightouch’s sales team is small, and growing and scaling with the help of their strategic partners continues to be essential.  



Hightouch’s team approaches the process of getting buy-in from their strategic partners with care. Below, we’ll share an inside look at their approach so you can replicate the process for your own strategic partner program.

Step #1: Invest in building an integration with your partner’s product


If you run a tech or strategic partner program, we’re sure you’ve encountered the “awkward dance”. You’re on the phone with a potential partner and you agree there’s value in partnering, but then you each tiptoe around who will build the integration.


If you’re a smaller player trying to break into a bigger player’s Ecosystem, then you should invest in building the integration. You won’t have to rely on your partner’s resources, and you can ensure your integration makes it to market.


Through open APIs, you can build integrations on top of large Ecosystems, like Salesforce (5100+ partners), Snowflake (700+ partners), and others. Through the integration, you’ll be able to gain your first mutual customers and make the case to your potential partner for a long-term investment.  


For Hightouch, building integrations with their target strategic partners’ products is key to launching a long-term partnership. As a Reverse ETL (extract, transform, load) platform, the value of Hightouch lies in its ability to sync data from a customer’s data storage to any multitude of their tools. Gupta and his co-founder Tejas Manohar kept this need for technical adaptability in mind when building Hightouch so that they would have the technical infrastructure to build integrations quickly and at scale further along in their product roadmap.


Gupta says that even if your product doesn’t rely on integrations, you should still consider your future integration roadmap in the early stages of your product’s development. Not integrating with key players in the space could hurt your business and make your competitors’ products more valuable to customers who prefer tools that work well with their tech stacks. (In fact, not investing in your Tech Ecosystem could cost you billions.)      


“When thinking about architecting your product, how can I make this technically compatible with other products?” says Kashish Gupta, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Hightouch. “Can I understand the partner architectures in advance of building my product so it’ll be compatible in the future?“


If you don’t have the engineering resources to invest in building the integration with your partner, consider the following options:

  • Work with an external development agency to build your integrations early on

  • Adapt your API endpoints for specific use cases and categories to make it easier to invest in building specific types of integrations

  • Integrate with a Reverse ETL tool like Hightouch to enable your customers to move data from your tool into other tools in their tech stack

  • Adopt an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) solution to help your internal or external developers build integrations quickly


To note: Hightouch develops the integration if their potential partner meets the below criteria:

  • A high number of customers have asked for the integration, and/or a large customer has asked for the integration

  • Their target partner has a public (or “open”) API, making it easy for Hightouch’s team to build the integration without asking for technical resources from their potential partner

  • There is a high number of overlaps between Hightouch’s prospects and customers and the partner’s customers on Crossbeam (if the partner has agreed to map accounts prior to Hightouch building the integration)

  • They anticipate the integration being useful to multiple customers


Once you start seeing results from your integration with your potential partner, then you can start communicating the value in their terms to establish a partnership.

Step #2: Communicate the value of your integration through the metrics your partner cares about

Maybe internally you’re tracking metrics like “integration adoption”, “reactivation”, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). While critical to your business, speaking about how your integration impacts your business metrics won’t help move the needle with your partner. You’ll need to identify which metrics your partner cares about most and how your integration has impacted them.


If your partner generates revenue by increasing its “premium” features usage, focus on understanding how your integration impacts the usage and adoption of your partner’s “premium” features. If your partner cares more about upsells, show them how your integration has led to upsells.


You may not know exactly how the integration has impacted your partner, but you can gather data to make an informed guess or ask your partner directly. For example: You can track the specific customers who have mentioned using your partner’s premium features more actively since adopting your integration or who have recently begun using your partner’s premium features for the first time. You can track partner mentions using sales conversation tools like Gong or ask your customer success managers who speak with your customers regularly.


“People want to not only see product metrics, they want to see business ROI,” says Gupta.
“They want to see dollars increase on their side, retention go up, or ACV go up for customers using those integrations.”


After observing the impact of their integrations with potential partners, Gupta joins the initial call with their potential partner and asks them questions like:


“X customer is paying us this much. How much are they paying you?” Oftentimes, your mutual customer is paying your larger partner a much higher dollar amount. This question can help surface and showcase the dollar value of your joint solution with your partner.  


“How much is our joint solution improving retention for you?” When the Hightouch team observes more advanced product usage from customers using a particular integration, it often means that their customers are using their partner’s product in more advanced ways as well. More advanced or active product usage directly impacts product “stickiness” and activation rates. If you have a hunch that your customers are using your partner’s product in more advanced ways, ask your customer success team or your customers directly to help validate your hunch.  


“How has our joint solution increased your software consumption?” In some cases, Hightouch’s partners charge for consumption. An uptick in queries will translate to an increase in revenue generated from their partner’s existing customers.


“Have you seen an uptick in premium feature usage?” For partners that rely on revenue from premium feature usage, an uptick in premium feature usage means that their integration directly contributes to an increase in revenue.  


Additionally, closing a large customer with their potential partner helps to showcase value to their potential partner’s leadership team.


For example: Snowflake and Hightouch closed a deal with Warner Music Group. When considering adopting Snowflake as part of their data stack, WMG’s team needed to choose to either develop homegrown tools or adopt a Reverse ETL platform like Hightouch. Adopting Hightouch saved WMG’s team time and resources, and they were able to activate their engagement data in Snowflake in just six weeks. Hightouch’s team used the win to showcase their value to Snowflake’s sales team and get buy-in to initiate co-selling motions together.


Gupta and his team would also point to their mutual opportunities with their strategic partner in Crossbeam to show their revenue potential.  


“We [have] X mutual customers and Y overlapping prospects. We’ve proven we can do it. Now, let’s make some warm intros for each other,” says Gupta.  


If Gupta observes that the number of mutual customers in Crossbeam increases each quarter, he references the increase as a positive signal for revenue growth on both sides of the partnership. Gupta suggests focusing the conversation around how many paying customers you have together with your partner.


The account mapping matrix in Crossbeam


“Crossbeam does a really good job of [showing us] where we’re running deals together,” says Gupta.  



Olivia Ramirez 9 min

How to Land Your Next Strategic Partnership (and Build Your Reputation in the Market)

Learn how the team at Hightouch got the attention of their first strategic partners by building integrations that showcased the value of their joint solutions.

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