We asked a few dozen agencies to share their most painful client experiences, and more importantly, the advice they’d give to other agencies to avoid them.
Agencies | Nov 5
Peter Caputa IV on September 8, 2017 • 9 minute read
That’s one reason why any agency can become a Databox partner for free. No purchase necessary. They get a free, agency-specific license to:
Profile page of Pepperland Marketing in the Databox Agency Partner Directory
A very popular Google Search Console report template published by Pepperland Marketing to our Report Template Directory.
We investigated 18 agency partner programs before launching our program. If there’s a more generous program for agencies, I haven’t seen it. Meanwhile, most companies in the BI and dashboarding space try to charge agencies more money for basic features like white-labeling and the ability to manage client accounts.
In case our program sounds too good to be true, or if you think we just sound desperate, let me explain why we’ve structured the program the way we have.
First, let me share some of my personal career history in the marketing agency world. When I started HubSpot’s partner program in 2008, I was a sales rep on a quota. With very few agencies who were reselling at the time, I had to sell the software to agencies (for their internal use) in order to hit my quota.
At the time, HubSpot only had one product and it was $250/mo. It was a modest investment even for the smallest of agencies. As the program gained traction, I had visions of building a program that could help 100s of thousands of agencies. Before I joined HubSpot, I sold marketing services and struggled to make payroll more than once. I was (and still am) motivated to help people who struggled like me.
But as time went on, HubSpot raised prices and added most new features to new, higher-priced plans. Now, the average HubSpot marketing customer pays more than 4 times that — or to be exact, $12,773/year as of Q2 2017.
As prices went up, the number of agencies who could afford HubSpot’s help went down.
And since sales of the software to agencies for their own use became a large and important portion of HubSpot’s revenue, there was no way to offer the product at a lower price for smaller agencies.
I wish it would have happened differently, though. With 250,000 agencies worldwide, many of them struggling to get over 5 employees (or disinterested in doing so), HubSpot could have helped many more. And those agencies could have helped many more clients.
To be fair to HubSpot, they now have generous free products that many companies use, including many agencies I run into these days. In fact, Brian Halligan acknowledged that many companies start on their free plan: “About 1/3 of our new marketing customers since 2016 begin actively using our CRM product before purchasing … our marketing product.”
But, the jump from free user to certified to tiered partner requires a pretty steep investment. Most of the benefits for partners kick in after (1) purchasing the HubSpot Marketing Professional edition, and (2) hitting annual resale targets. Very few of the 3700 HubSpot partners, let alone the 250k+ agencies worldwide, benefit from all the goodness HubSpot provides to their top partners.
Now that I’m at the helm at Databox building a second partner program (among other things, of course), I have the good fortune of re-thinking decisions like, “Should agencies pay to be a partner?”
I didn’t have to think long before I decided to create a very generous free plan for agencies. Below are the reasons why.
1. I Want to Make It Easy For Tens of Thousands of Agencies To Help Hundreds of Thousands of Clients by Tomorrow
At HubSpot, Halligan often asked me, “How many partners should HubSpot have?” I always answered “all of them.” Unfortunately, we didn’t get to make the strategic decisions at HubSpot that would have enabled ubiquity — the aforementioned pricing issue mentioned above being one of them.
At Databox, that’s what I want to achieve. I won’t be happy with a few hundred or a few thousand partners. I want all marketing agencies worldwide to use Databox to acquire, retain and grow client accounts more easily.
That’s reason number one why the program is free to join. By lowering the price of our product and our program to zero for agencies, we eliminate the friction on the path between agency awareness and partner commitment.
2. Agencies Get Value from the Product in Minutes and with Little to No Help from Us
The Databox product team has built a product that delivers value in literally minutes.
Unlike most reporting and BI solutions, a company’s data can be visualized instantly in Databox. Connecting to a Company’s existing systems, choosing a report from our report gallery and customizing it (via our Designer) requires no technical skills. It is all done through point and click and drag and drop.
Here’s what a new partner, John Beveridge from Rapidan Strategies recently said: “There were data reporting tools available like Klipfolio and Tableau, but they were difficult to use and weren’t purpose-built for sales and marketing. Enter Databox. Databox provides online and mobile KPI dashboards that are easy to set up, easy to use and easy to share.”
3. We Have Lots of Customers Who Could Use Help Improving Their Metrics
One of the fears at any software company with both a reseller program and a direct sales team is that conflict will arise when there are too many partners. There’s a fear that all the partners will have their hands out and there won’t be enough opportunity for all of them. There’s a fear that when more partners are pursuing deals, there will be more conflict with the direct sales team.
Indeed, pie pieces get smaller if the overall pie doesn’t grow fast enough or if coordination costs become too high.
However, at Databox, we are in an enviable position of being able to grow our user and customer count through marketing alone. In other words, many companies find us, start using our product and then buy without any interaction with our team. I believe we can continue to grow our revenue without a direct sales team and only a low-touch, reactive support team.
This low-touch model that we use creates a huge opportunity for our partners to assist our customers. I have no plans to build a direct sales team and the product team reduces support requests systematically by improving the product. Therefore, we are exclusively investing our resources in product, marketing and our partner program.
All that’s left to do is: connect our customers to our partners so they can collaborate. To do that, we market together with our partners. Already, some of our partners are generating more leads from our website than their own.
Pepperland Marketing, a four-person, analytically-adept agency, has contributed 3 report templates that have been downloaded 300+ times. (You can see the download numbers in the screenshot of their profile page above.)
We also feature our partners and their report templates in our marketing. Here’s an article titled, “16 HubSpot Integrations Top Users Swear By” where we featured a quote from Tom Stobierski, also of Pepperland Marketing.
As if that’s not enough, we’ve also invited our partners to submit as many guest posts as they’d like to our blog.
In short, our audience is our partner’s audience, our partners are a true extension of our team, and our interests are aligned.
4. We Can Learn a Lot from Each Other
I’ve learned a tremendous amount since joining Databox in January. In the last 9 months, I’ve had more 1:1 conversations with agency leaders and marketing technology executives than I had in the previous 5 years. (I was managing a big team, then.)
One of my big takeaways: there’s a lot of amazing software out there used by lots of companies.
Because we integrate with 50+ of the most popular SaaS services, this puts us at an interesting position to understand how well companies are using software.
We’ve begun sharing that knowledge in our agency training so that agencies can help clients leverage technology to its fullest.
Partners are also helping other partners. An increasing amount of our training has been built or improved by our partners. Impulse Creative even created our official integration for Teamwork Projects and is developing training on how to use it, as well as report templates so the rest of our users can start monitoring their project management data inside Databox.
Each of these training modules is an opportunity for agencies to expand who they can help and how they can help them. With this training and with our Slack group, we’re building a place where agencies can collaborate as software options continue to multiply.
How to Take Full Advantage of Databox’s Free Partner Program.
Joining Databox’s partner program is pretty simple. Here are all the benefits and how to take advantage of each of them.
I hope you’ll join my team.
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