I have been talking to a few of my friends and partners who are working on integration strategy and starting a tech partnerships program. Sharing my thoughts and experience here, and I hope this may help some of you.
Firstly, let us understand why integrations are important and why do you need integrations.
Tarun Diwan is one of the successful young founders who has built a customer feedback product - SurveySensum that does over $5Mn ARR in less than 3 years. Singapore and Indonesia were the primary focus markets. The team decided to experiment with SEOs and promoted their product to the North American audience. The product is solid and as expected had a good number of prospects who were willing to get on a call. As they spoke to more and more prospects they realized that integrations are critical. 9 out of 10 customers asked for a CRM integration and marketplace/webpage to check for the use cases. (I am not saying in Singapore and Indonesia there were no asks for integrations. Comparatively there were less requests and for those who had asked, the team was comfortable to built custom integrations)
Integrations are fundamental requirements for any business. To better streamline business processes for your customers, you will have to connect your software with other tools. By adding the right integrations, you are going to help your customers improve their business processes, save time, work efficiently and drive revenue. There are enough examples across multiple ecosystems to prove that as the number of integrations go up, the probability of churn comes down. Aircall’s partner manager Autumn Carter confirms that the gross retention is a lot better when integrations are involved. (Partnerfy interviewed Autumn. Here is the link)
Love shorter sales cycles? Having the right integration partners will surely help. Check this Crossbeam article where Rajiv Ramanan shares our experience at Freshworks.
Now that we understand the importance of integrations, it is equally important to prioritize the right set of integrations. Integrations should be product led or rather customer led. Categorizing integrations as mentioned below will help you better understand which all integrations to target and what all to prioritize. If you are looking to scale up your app marketplace, this may be useful.
GTM asks - Everything starts with your customers
For someone getting started with a partner program or looking to find critical integrations to work on, the first thing to do is to know what your customers are asking for. Your AEs, CSMs, presales colleagues who are connected to customers should be able to tell you the integrations and use cases that your customers are asking for. Start recording these. It is important to measure the number of customers/ prospects asking for an integration, impact MRR and urgency with which customers need the integration (prioritize based on must to have vs nice to have).
Product team’s ask - Product gaps are critical integrations
As you move upmarket, fulfilling all of your customer’s requirements with just your own products is not possible. Because of tight timelines to deliver the existing product roadmap or maybe because of a strategic decision to not work on some features that may consume a lot of time, the product team may decide to not work on those features. Companies that can complete these product gaps/ solutions are your next best partners. For example: Freshworks partners with Device42 to fill gaps in the CMDB space and Automox for patch management. For an ITSM tool, these are critical complementary solutions. (Check this video where Eric Bohren explains why Freshworks chose to partner with Device42)
Complementary solutions - Tools that work well with your software
If you are not able to validate critical integrations from your GTM team, start from mapping complementary solutions. There will be solutions that will work well with your products. For example, a CRM and a cloud telephony solution. For an agent or a rep initiating a call directly from within the CRM is going to be a very helpful joint solution.
You can start listing complementary solutions that can integrate with your product and ask for feedback from your product team and GTM team. Make sure that you have your team validate with your customers before working on the integrations. You can also run a poll and check with your customers on the integrations that they would like to have.
Vertical/ industry specific solutions
If you have more customers in a vertical or industry, start looking at what solutions will make sense for your customers. Start mapping apps/ products that are popular across a segment or vertical. For example, if you are in the CRM space and if you have a lot of e-commerce customers, it is important that you do not miss out on building an integration with Shopify. (It is also good to list your solutions in these popular marketplaces)
Innovative new solutions
Look for newer technologies and if it makes sense to integrate with your product, it is certainly worth a try. It is a good PR material too. Please note that not all solutions will be useful and just because there is a new technology, doesn't mean that you need to integrate with your product. For example, solutions such as AR/VR are a great value add to customer support solutions.
It is always important to understand what your competitors are working on. Keep an eye on integrations that are popular in their ecosystem and if you are missing out on those use cases, it is important that you find partners who can work with you.
I hope this is useful. Message me and I will be happy to discuss in more details.
What are your integration strategies?