Affiliates & Partnerships for SaaS Businesses

“Affiliates won’t do anything without being pushed.”

Nathan Barry, CEO ConvertKit

Nathan is right. Put yourself into an affiliates shoes, someone that you really want selling your tool. They probably already have a ton of people asking them to sell stuff, they already have a revenue stream, and they are already busy. So when you ask them to add a link or sell your stuff their answer is going to be something like this “Sure, give me an affiliate link and maybe I’ll mention it. If it sells, then we can push it some more.”

All things being equal, I would probably say and do the same thing. But there’s a secret to getting affiliate marketers to sell for you. If affiliates aren’t going to do anything without being pushed, then push them!

The process is simple. Here’s the trick:

It’s all about the webinar.

The way this works is you make an offer to your potential affiliate partner that includes a webinar that they have to drive everyone towards. At that webinar you will make your special offer and give everyone the link to the deal. The deal should only stay live for a week or two at most though, then the affiliate needs to do an additional webinar to keep getting more people. This way, they are always actively pushing people towards your webinars.

Deal Structures

Deals with affiliates can go anywhere from 20% of the first payment up to 50% or more of the lifetime value of the customer. Since most SaaS businesses have a very high margin, giving away 50% of LTV is often not an issue to open up a new market or access customers you wouldn’t otherwise have. Besides, you want your affiliates to sell as much as possible, so it’s worth it for you to make it worth it for them.

In your deal, you need to also take into account that you are going to be giving the affiliates audience some kind of deal. So if you are giving the affiliate 50% of LTV, you need to be sure to take into account how much you are going to also be giving their users off. Make sure it doesn’t cut too far into your margins before you get too excited and sign a deal!

The Webinar

The webinar for an affiliate deal goes something like this:

  1. Drop the carrot at the beginning

  2. Do the pitch

  3. Make the offer

  4. Give the time limit

  5. Repeat

Dropping the Carrot

At the beginning of your webinar, start out with something like “Thanks so much everyone. This is going to be a 1-hour webinar, and at the end I am going to give you the link to our special offer as well as the free [something else here]. This keeps people listening till the end and engaged.

The Pitch

In this kind of webinar you are teaching as well as promoting. So make sure to give your users knowledge that they wouldn’t otherwise have and how this knowledge works with your system. Remember, a SaaS either fills a knowledge gap or an efficiency gap, so make sure you know where your’s lies and how much time and money it will save your users.

Make the offer

You’re coming up to the end, but before your questions and answers session, it’s time to make the offer they can’t refuse. Remember, not only does your host get a cut, but your users need some incentive as well. This offer needs to account for that price cut, additional value metric, or something else.

Give the time limit

Don’t forget that your deal has a time limit, and you need to tell everyone. If you don’t say it, and sometimes even if you do, people will get upset when the time expires. But if you say it in the webinar and you can show them, it will make your life easier.

Repeat!

Congratulations software merchant! If you have a good product, the right affiliate, the right price, the right message, and the right listeners you probably just made some sales. Now let’s start over and do it again!