38 minutes | Aug 26th 2020

Steve Stewart: How to Build a Services-Led Channel

Why is a services-led channel so important? Software-as-a-service has forced vendors to think differently about their customer engagement model. TSIA (Technology Association of America) describes this new model as LAER which stands for land, adopt, expand and renew. Sales-led partners may be great at the land part; uncovering new opportunities and getting a customer to subscribe to the service. But that’s only the first step in driving customer success and building a low-churn recurring revenue stream. 

When channel veteran Steve Stewart landed at SmartSheet as Head of Global Channels, he inherited a channel of mostly transactional partners. Steve knew their customers needed help in the adoption of their SaaS offering for collaboration and work management. And SmartSheet couldn’t expand their own services team fast enough to keep up with the growth. So Steve is building a channel of services-led partners to drive adoption, expansion, and renewals. Steve shares how he’s building and enabling a services-led channel and what’s in it for their partners. 


Steve shares 3 critical success factors for building a services-led SaaS channel: 

  1. Focus on partners who can add value-added services including consulting, custom software development, configuration and implementation, and training services.
  2. Double down on education and training, and not just product training. Partners need to know how to lead with a business transformation message, drive transformation and provide business outcomes. 
  3. Offer an online marketplace where service-led partners can package their vertical expertise and uses cases built into solutions that sit on top of your SaaS offering.

Steve offers one last awesome tip. He asks this one question every time he’s meeting with a partner. “Tell me about one best practice from one of your other vendors that has allowed you to execute better than anyone else?”


I needed partners that were willing and able to build a services practice around Smartsheet - @EstebanStewart
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I've got a big focus on recruitment, but I would say very selective recruitment. It's carving with a scalpel. It's not fishing - @EstebanStewart
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It's being upfront right out the gate, because it doesn't do either of you any good to recruit a partner where it's not the right fit. They're going to be disappointed. And so will you. - @EstebanStewart
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LINKS & RESOURCES The post Steve Stewart: How to Build a Services-Led Channel first appeared on Channel Journeys.
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