Product Leaders Share Their Frameworks for Prioritizing SaaS Product Integrations
Over at the SaaS Ecosystem Alliance, we hosted a discussion with product and product partnership leaders on how they decide to prioritize integrations. Our CEO Cristina Flaschen talked with Richard O’Connell, Director of Product Partnerships at Atlassian, Amanda Groves, Director of Product Marketing at Crossbeam, Chris Lavoie, Sr. Technology Partner Manager at Gorgias, and Kabir Mathur, Head of Product Partnerships at Typeform.
You can join the SaaS Ecosystem Alliance to see the full event recording, but we wanted to share some of the insights, which included what framework to use when prioritizing integrations, how to balance the go to market value of an integration partnership against the value the integration, vanity metrics to avoid when prioritizing integrations, and more.
Framework and Metrics to Use When Prioritizing Integrations
Panelists agreed that the framework for prioritizing integrations varies from company to company, however, building some type of prioritization framework with variables that are unique to your organization and strategy for your company is necessary.
They talked through how they look at the ICP of a potential partner company, determine if there is customer overlap in the verticals they represent, and identify their partner’s type of customers (SMB or enterprise focused, for example).
Many agreed that decisions to prioritize integrations be customer centric and based on what customers are asking for from your product, as well as how ready your product is to be built into. This means ensuring that you have set up a clean API that creates a smooth experience for developers, but also having the bandwidth and personnel available to support partner developers while they're building into you.
They acknowledged that there are some factors that are a bit harder to quantify when making these decisions like, for example, the level of engagement that a partner will have with you. Kabir from Typeform mentioned how a partner with a huge ecosystem can often seem attractive, but they are not always going to bring the most ROI, as they may not invest as much in promoting and sharing your app as a smaller partner would.
If the process with a large partner involves no real interaction and you're simply submitting your app for approval, one should consider if this is where you should be investing your time versus investing in a relationship with a smaller partner that's willing to co-market or co-sell.
Balancing the Go to Market Value of an Integration Against the Value the Integration Adds to the Product
Integrations can be looked at as a way to acquire new customers and build retention for existing customers. Panelists discussed how these two go hand in hand when making decisions about products to integrate with.
Following the theme of making sure decisions around prioritizing integrations are customer-centric, panelists pushed the significance of making sure an integration will have a demonstrable impact on the end user experience, and using very solid use cases, to help decide whether to invest time in a partnership.
Richard O’Connell from Atlassian pointed out that investing heavily in go to market without a high quality integration use case behind these campaigns can backfire as you drive prospects and customers to an app that is not satisfying and doesn’t sufficiently meet their objectives.
All in all, when balancing the GTM value of an integration against it’s value add, Chris Lavoie at Gorgias outlines how they use a snowball effect approach when determining the amount of resources they are going to engage in with the partner, only advancing to the more mature stages of their go to market strategy as momentum around the integration picks up.
Vanity Metrics in Tech Partnerships
The ICP and Total Adjustable Market of a potential partner are two metrics that many people working in technology partnerships will refer to when determining products to integrate with, however, panelists discuss how these can sometimes be used as vanity metrics for determining partnerships.
While these are good metrics to consider the potential of an integration, they bring up instances where they have been guilty in the past of forcing use cases that don't really move the needle that much simply because they saw that a partner has thousands of customers who fit their ICP.
Integration installs were also brought up as a vanity metric they have seen after going to market with partners. Amanda Groves at Crossbeam argued that along with this metric, companies should look at end user activation (after clearly defining what counts as activation), and how the integration is influencing bigger metrics like retention or MPS.
The consensus amongst panelists was that those deciding how to prioritize integrations should hold themselves accountable to sticking to core business and core product metrics.
Sharing Account Data to Make Decisions About Integrations
Using Crossbeam for account mapping and sharing data was popular amongst panelists. They mentioned collecting and sharing data on the number of mutual customers and TAM for a potential partnership before deciding to go to the next steps of exploring product value and mutual customer demand.
Amanda Groves of Crossbeam also highlighted the benefit of going deeper by identifying overlaps in specific verticals and tweaking the integration use cases by those verticals using their technology as well.
If you're interested in hearing the full discussion, join the SaaS Ecosystem Alliance to gain access to members only resources and a recording of this event.
You can also register for more upcoming roundtables on interdisciplinary topics relevant to those working in technology partnerships.
Do you want a template for prioritizing your product integrations? Drawing on the expertise offered in this panel, we have created a Sheet you can use. Check it out here.