How We Launched our Certified Partner Program and Why It Was the Right Move

 A certified partner program.

Should we? Is it right for Grow at our current stage?  What is the outcome we’re looking to achieve? Will it even work?

These were just a few of the questions we were asking as we entertained the idea of launching a certified partner program. Strongly held views and opinions were freely shared as we debated whether we should or shouldn’t move forward. In the end, we made the decision to move forward—and we’re so glad we did.

Why did we decide to create a partner program at such an early stage?

Our first reason for creating this program so early was the same reason Grow exists in the first place—our customers. Grow is a BI solution specifically built for SMBs. Since many of our customers have fewer than a couple hundred employees, they often don’t have IT departments, BI engineers, data analysts, etc. Anyone that has worked with data or is familiar with BI will tell you that there are inherent complexities, and our customers often aren’t equipped to get the most out of their data or BI without some additional help. Thus, we decided to launch the Grow Certified Partner Program to create an ecosystem of experts with deep industry knowledge, subject-matter expertise, and extensive training on our platform to help our customers.

“We decided to launch the Grow Certified Partner Program to create an ecosystem of experts with deep industry knowledge, subject-matter expertise, and extensive training on our platform to help our customers”

Second, we are fortunate to have Richard Tripp and Thomas Jones on our leadership team. Both came from InfusionSoft and were able to see the growth of their certified partner program, from very humble beginnings to massive success. InfusionSoft’s certified partners perform over 80% of all new customer implementations, as well as being InfusionSoft’s number one customer acquisition channel. Being able to draw from their experience was a big factor in our decision to move forward and a tremendous help as we designed our program.

Step 1: What are the goals? 

“If you’re not clear about why you’re doing it or the outcomes you’re seeking, you’re setting yourself up for failure.”

Being clear and aligned around the goals of the program is a critical first step. If you’re not clear about why you’re doing it or the outcomes you’re seeking, you’re setting yourself up for failure. As such, we determined that first and foremost our Certified Partner Program would be viewed as a service channel and secondly as a customer acquisition channel. Since the number one driver for our program is customer success, we felt that there was no sense in delaying and that building a services ecosystem would provide immediate tangible benefit to our customers, our partners, and Grow. 

The primary goals of our program are to:

  1. Increase customer success and delight customers (said another way, increase LTV and decrease churn).
  2. Build a services ecosystem that solves core data problems for our customers.
  3. Build a scalable customer success model.
  4. Help partners build and scale their own business by servicing our customers.
  5. Provide all the training, support, and enablement necessary to help partners be successful.
  6. Create a customer acquisition channel for Grow (we’ve incorporated a rev share component for Certified Partners when they bring their customers to Grow).

Once we got clear and aligned about the goals of our program and decided to move forward, the next step was recruiting the right partners.

Step 2: Who should we recruit?

What would the ideal partner look like? Where would we find them? Would they even want to be part of this?

“We also looked for businesses that were focused on service, and had built profitable companies by servicing customers.”

The first place we searched to start finding and recruiting partners was our own customer base. We looked for customers that had good use cases, were having great success with Grow and getting tremendous value out of the product, and loved what we were doing. We also looked for businesses that were focused on service and had built profitable companies by servicing customers.

Without too much effort, we were able to find 5-10 businesses that were ideal fits to launch this program with. We felt like 5-10 was just the right number—enough to have some diversity in expertise, but not too many to make building and learning overly complicated. Each of our Certified Partners have service-based businesses (agencies, data consulting firms, etc.) with various specializations.

Step 3: The Event

“We wanted to really get to know them on a personal and professional level, meet our team, and experience our culture.”

To launch our program, we had our partners come to our corporate headquarters for three days. We wanted to really get to know them on a personal and professional level, and allow them to meet our team and experience our culture. We planned the 3-day event at our corporate headquarters, and it was definitely the right decision to bring them onsite.

Day 1

We started the first day with introductions from each partner as well as key stakeholders on our team, including our CEO, CPO, VP of Sales, and others. We asked each partner to tell us about their company, the reason they came to the training, and something interesting/funny about them. This served as a great ice breaker to get the day started.

We then moved into presentations from our CEO (welcome and “the why”) and myself. I went through an overview of the Certified Partner Program and some of the critical workflows and processes that we put in place. The focus of the initial presentations was making sure partners understood why we were doing this and how they would benefit from this program.

After lunch we spent a few hours doing product training. I have to give a huge shoutout to Deb Weiss, our Partner Success
Manager. In less than two months, Deb built a product guide, partner playbook, and countless processes to ensure a successful launch to this program. She also shouldered the bulk of the product training with the partners, and she knocked it out of the park!

“The activity gave the partners a chance to get to know each other and have a great time together to start the event, and resulted in a different vibe (loose, unified, fun, together) for Days 2 and 3.”

We wrapped up Day 1 with a fun activity and a nice dinner at the world famous Sundance Resort. Before dinner we rented Polaris Razrs and took the partners on a Razr expedition to explore some of the breathtaking backcountry in the Wasatch Mountains. Everyone had a blast, there were no accidents, and a few of the partners even decided to rally through water and mud covering themselves head to toe. As the photos attest, they loved it!

 

 

The activity and dinner were a big part of making the launch a success, and we’re super glad we did it on the first day. The activity gave the partners a chance to get to know each other and have a great time together to start the event, and resulted in a different vibe (loose, unified, fun, together) for Days 2 and 3.

Days 2 and 3

Days 2 and 3 included a heavy focus on literacy within the Grow product, as well as some presentations from other leaders at Grow, including Jake Young (VP of Sales), Thomas Jones (VP of Customer Success), and Richard Tripp (CPO).

Based on the feedback from our partners, one of the highlights was what we call a “POV” session. The POV methodology was developed by our CPO, Richard Tripp, and is intended to help the best ideas surface within a brainstorming session. Richard guided this interactive discussion which involves creative listening, brainstorming, and deep thinking. The goal was to flesh out the best ideas from the entire group about best-practices for onboarding new customers. It’s hard to give justice to the creative flow and energy in the room during this session! Our partners loved the insight that they gained into how we do product development, strategic planning, etc. from this session, and we loved the ideas that came from the group about the best way to service our customers!

Day 3 wrapped up with a written assessment as well as an in-product assessment where we asked partners to demonstrate expertise with specific activities in the product.

Wrap Up

Since the event, we’re focused on executing—specifically, helping our Certified Partners build and scale their businesses around servicing Grow customers, and helping our Certified Partners know how to best promote and sell Grow to their customer and prospect databases.

“We believe in it, we’re investing in it, and we can’t wait to watch it grow.”

We’re super excited about this new channel, both in terms of servicing our customers and its potential to drive new deal flow to Grow. We believe in it, we’re investing in it, and we can’t wait to watch it grow.

If you have questions about our program, want to learn more, or want to become a partner yourself, check out our Grow partner page. We can’t wait to work with you! 

We Couldn’t Have Done it Without You

On a final note, I wanted to give a huge shoutout to our first group of certified partners. They are amazing people working at amazing companies, and we’re so glad they’re with us in this journey as we work together to help our customers get the most out of their Grow experience.

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