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How SMBs can drive sales growth by using a partner platform

How SMBs can drive sales growth by using a partner platform | Shawnie Hamer - Kiflo

About Kiflo

Shawnie: Kiflo is the PRM software that grows with you. We are one of the most intuitive and customizable PRMs on the market and one of the most user-friendly. That is because we are an extremely people-centric company. We really value the people behind partnership programs. We work really hard to figure out what challenges they’re facing and embed in our features a way to solve those issues. And on top of that, not just solve them, but use them as a platform even to create success for them.

Best Kiflo features

Shawnie: We actually just rolled out some really exciting features, the first being workflows. These allow you to automate repetitive tasks to focus your time and energy on more important things, basically building stronger relationships with your partners. Customizable triggers actually activate those, that’s a new feature that we just rolled out, and it’s really exciting. Second, we have very intuitive metrics, and we’re adding more and more to those every month. These are actually going to be directly related to your workflow. And these metrics allow you to get an overview.

You can zoom in and out of your program to get an overview of how things are going. And you can also find those partners that maybe are going inactive. Maybe you had a really active partner last month, but they haven’t done anything this month. You can set up a workflow that allows you to automatically reach out to those partners to ensure they stay active and motivated.

We also have a partner portal. This is a one-stop shop for your partners. We not only do things like lead submissions, and deal registrations, we make that super easy and intuitive, but also for the channel manager side to be able to communicate and enable your partners to be sharing content. You can bookmark assets, keep track of commissions and payouts, and ensure the onboarding pipeline, which is another important feature. Streamlining the onboarding to ensure the partners have everything they need to succeed in the program.

Focusing on SMBs

Shawnie: We are the PRM for SMBs, and this is definitely what we are focusing on. It’s cool because Kiflo is so user-friendly, it’s so intuitive, and it’s so customizable that I think companies of all sizes really can take advantage of it. But it’s especially important for SMBs because we are a great tool that’s competing with all of the top industry leaders, and it’s a fraction of the price. We’re one of the most affordable and accessible PRMs on the market.

Kiflo pricing plans

Shawnie: We really believe in this idea of growing with you. Because of that, we’ve set up our pricing in three different plans. The starter plan is great for those programs that are just getting kicked off. Maybe you have just a couple of partners you’re ready to start with a very strong foundation for that program, but you don’t want to break the bank. The starter plan is great for that. The next step is when you start to scale. For that, you will need the Scale plan, and you can actually pay per range of partners with the Scale plan. You don’t have to pay for that unlimited if you only have a certain, maybe 25 partners, and you just want to be sure to focus on those. And then the Unlimited plan is just like it sounds. You get an unlimited amount of partners, and these are for these programs that are really starting to kick up the notch and see some significant results.

Kiflo featured integrations

Shawnie: We have integrations with HubSpot and Salesforce, which are definitely the CRMs we see many of our customers using. And then, we do leverage our open API and Zapier for all other integrations. The key thing to know about Kiflo is that we are a team of cheerleaders for you, and our support team is one of the top ranks. We always try to accommodate unique needs and use cases for our customers, so if there is something they need, we figure out a way to do that through the open API or Zapier.

The problem partnerships people are facing

Shawnie: I’ve actually had the recent pleasure of getting to interview quite a few customers, and as the head of marketing and partner marketing, it’s extremely important for me to know what our customers are talking about, what they’re facing, what they’re challenging. Partnership professionals face this big problem – they constantly have to manage these programs through tools like Excel or email threads, especially in the beginning stages. One that comes to mind is Effectday, I spoke to their head of partnerships over there, and he knew that he didn’t want to do that, so he found Kiflo. And since they’ve implemented kiflo into their program, we’ve helped them get over 50 partners in over 25 countries. Not only were they able to really organize and structure their program in a way that makes sense and is scalable for their team, but they were able to expand, they were able to see that success, and they were able to do it on a global scale.

How is Kiflo different from other PRM software?

Shawnie: It is a very competitive market. You’re not just getting a killer tool when you sign up for Kiflo, and you’re getting a team that wants to see you succeed. Regarding the technology itself, all of our features and those in our roadmap are releasing new features every month this year. Those features are all working towards our end goal: automating every single process in the partnership journey. From recruitment to even an exit strategy, we want it all to be automated so that it frees up space for the people behind these partnerships to do the important thing, which is build strong relationships, identify opportunities, and go after those new creative ideas that are happening in the ecosystem.

We do that in many ways, not only through the product itself but also with the team. You get a support team, many of whom will meet with our customers one-on-one to discuss strategy, to give advice. We also have the Kiflo Academy, which is an exclusive course where you can learn not only how to use our platform but also how to thrive in partnerships in general. And lastly, our content team is amazing. We have an extremely talented group of content writers who really keep their finger on the pulse of the industry and what’s being discussed, strategies that are happening, that are working, and that are not working. We provide a ton of content and resources for both our customers and the wider audience’s wider partner eco partnership.

The story of Kiflo

Shawnie: The idea was actually thought up by Steven and Jerome, our founders, at the beginning of 2018. They realized very quickly that there was a big problem. Direct sales teams have CRMs, they have this tool built for their processes specifically, but we see this repeatedly. Indirect sales teams struggle. Even with the options that they have now, they often don’t have the buy-in from either executives or the C-Suite to have their own tool. They saw that this was an issue that was happening, and they started developing. They launched Kiflo later that year.

And then a few months after that, they started getting their first customers, and then quickly it started to kind of snowball. During Covid, they decided to go remote, and that’s when everything really just started skyrocketing because even though we are in a little bit of an economic downturn, I think the landscape that Covid really painted for businesses, this is going to be the landscape that we stay in. We’re going to see fully remote companies, and we’re still going to see small partnership teams in those remote companies. Those teams need a hub, and they need a hub that’s connected to the CRMs and to the other technology that’s in the stack.

They had one person hired at the beginning of 2020, and then now we are an international team of 12. We have hundreds of customers and thousands of users and have become a significant player in this industry. We are a hundred percent bootstrapped, so we are the underdog in the industry. I joined the company in December 2021. It’s been a little over a year now, and it’s been like a crash course. It’s so crazy how much I’ve learned personally and grown personally.

What was your biggest challenge since joining the company?

Shawnie: Probably the biggest challenge that our customers face is, therefore, the biggest challenge that we face, right? This is buy-in. I touched on this a little bit before, but not just buy-in from executives, so that is getting the people that sign the checks to believe that their partnership team needs to be supported with a PRM platform. HubSpot just recently released its state of partnership ops report at the end of last year, and over 90% of surveyed professionals believe that they should be using partnership technology. That’s over 650 people surveyed in the partnership community, and they knew they needed to have a partnership technology. Over 55% of those people who are using partnership technology have seen increased revenue by using it. It’s not a question of if these tools work, it’s a question of how I can get the higher-ups who don’t understand partnerships completely to wrap their minds around the potential of a partnership program. That’s one aspect of the buy-in.

The second big problem is getting the partners’ buy-in. If you do happen to get the go-ahead from your execs, you buy the product, you implement it, and you get it organized. How do you get your partners to adopt the portal? How do you get them to see that this isn’t just another partner portal? And how do you tell them this isn’t just another login that they have to memorize, but actually that this is a place that not only allows them just to do their sort of daily functions but also can uplift them and enable them to help them succeed? That’s why we’re working on that engagement aspect in our roadmap and in the features we’ve been releasing. The workflows are automated to reach out to inactive partners or congratulate really active partners or whatever you need it to look like. Those are the ways that we’re trying to rectify these problems.

How are you planning to get new customers?

Shawnie: Maybe I’m a little bit biased as the head of marketing, but our product speaks for itself. Every person that comes to a demo is always impressed by the product. It’s a truly great product, and it’s built with people in mind. No matter what unique needs your program might have or what level your partners are on with technology, they can easily use and adop Kiflo. A good growth tactic just has a killer product in the first place.

I’d say the second thing and why we’ve seen so much growth in the past year is our engagement with the community and the larger partnership ecosystem. I mean that we are in a unique industry that shares and builds up thought leadership. We see people mentor each other, and they are very open and sharing about different strategies. It’s extremely important, and we want to participate in that. We put in a ton of content and are always willing to meet with other community members. That has really just catapulted the brand in the past year, and it’s something that we’re going to continue to build and work on.

What’s your future vision for Kiflo?

Shawnie: We want to automate every aspect of the partnership journey, and we also want to be a truly ecosystem-minded tool, not only automation but also connection. Part of our mission really is just to make these partnership professionals the best version of themselves, and we want to see them succeed. We will continue to put out great content and courses in the Kiflo Academy that can help uplift strategies and help provide the tool that closes the gap that we see in a partnership.

What is your story, Shawnie?

Shawnie: I’m a bit of an oddball in this industry, but actually, the more I talk to partnership folks, they sort of land here out of the blue. I think maybe I’m not as unique as I think I am. My master’s and bachelor’s degrees are both in English creative writing and poetry. I’m a poet at heart, and I was a college professor for a few years, and all through school always been a really strong writer. I would do freelance work in marketing. In the 10 years, I went to school and was trying to pay the bills and doing a lot of marketing. And my last full-time job before this one was as a curriculum writer, I wrote course curriculums for an online university, and I was laid off very suddenly.

I realized that I had amassed this knowledge, these skills, and marketing, and maybe O did want to get out of academia because I was just kind of tired of it. I started looking, and I found Kiflo. They gave me a lot of trust and worked to uplift me to ensure that I understood the partnerships industry. As I said, it has been a crash course. I have learned so much over the past year and truly believe in the industry. I love this idea of partnerships, and I love this idea of winning together.

What’s your best piece of advice for starting marketers?

Shawnie: I was just talking with a community member last week about this. I’d say that it doesn’t matter if you are a trained marketer. All of that stuff can be learned. There’s so much information on the internet. You can teach yourself KPIs, how to run ads, how to run ads, and many strategies. Those kinds of things are very learnable. I’d say that the core of what makes a really good marketer, especially if you start moving into partner marketing, is being authentic, having a good eye for great content, and having a great eye for this voice that I need to amplify. This is a cause or a goal that I need to amplify, and I’m going to cut the fluff, I don’t want fluff. I want real tactical information that is actually going to bring value.

If you can keep that at the center and be really authentic, the results will speak for themselves. People will trust your brand. People will trust your voice, which you need to succeed. Because as we see in this market and in all markets, people are not buying based on an ad. They’re not buying based on how often you pop up on Google. They’re buying because somebody is telling them that you are worthy of it, that you are trustworthy, and that you have a great product. How do you enter into that conversation? How do you enter into that community? You have to build trust, and I think that just knowing this content actually has to do something great for people.

What’s your favorite software apart from Kiflo?

Shawnie: Apart from Kiflo, I’d say HubSpot, but we’ll put that to the side, and I will say Zapier is a great one. Zapier is really such an incredible tool. The amount that we can accomplish with it is amazing. It can sometimes get a little technical, but in terms of integration, it’s not so bad. We really love Zapier. I’d say Reveal is another must. What they’re doing over there is incredible, making scaling and finding new opportunities possible. There’s nothing really like it. Regarding the team and within the organziation, we love Notion. We use Front for our emails, which is great to be able to communicate and stay in contact, especially if you’re a remote team. And last but not least, I’d say Woodpecker. That has really been useful for us in terms of reaching out to potential customers and having those campaigns that are easy to use and customizable.

Podcast Host & Guest(s)

Cristian Dina

Host

Cristian Dina

Managing Partner & SaaS Podcast Host @ Tekpon

Managing Partner & SaaS Podcast Host @ Tekpon

As one of the founding members of Tekpon, Cristian has worn many hats within the company, but perhaps none shines brighter than his role as the charismatic host of the Tekpon SaaS Podcast. With over 200 SaaS industry leaders gracing his episodes, Cristian's insatiable curiosity ensures he always has one more question. Cristian is a community builder at heart, being the Bucharest city leader for SaaStock Local and the author of the best-selling book King of Networking.

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