Looking at the app and software information from Insightful Accountant’s 2023 Top 100 formal applications, I can tell you that despite the significant increase in the number of apps and software that have come into the QuickBooks ecosystem over the last 10 years, the usage patterns concerning ProAdvisors and their clients has changed very little.
That’s why I’m only modernizing the content of this article, not significantly altering it.
We have had one major ProAdvisor conference in the last couple of months, and others are on the horizon. Typically, these conferences feature vendors exhibiting their apps and software.
Most vendors are there to attract ProAdvisors (like most of our readers) searching for what works, what looks the best, what’s new or what will meet a specific need. Those vendors are also there to seek you out as a potential ‘sales channel’ by which they can market their products.
We look for a specific app or software to accomplish a given task for a client in need of a solution or to add to our repertoire of offerings. Still, once we find two or three options within the same category, our final selection often boils down to the Partner Program each vendor offers.
Some Partner Programs, like many featured in our Advisor Alliance column, are excellent, while others are lacking.
I know what I’m looking for, and even though I first wrote most of this article almost eight years ago, the following 10 things haven’t changed in my mind regarding the perfect Partner Program.
1) Formal Partner Recognition
The vendor has to offer a formal Partner Program (no matter what you call it); it can’t simply be ‘create an account’ and get your name on a list. ProAdvisors want a Partner Program that means something. Some of the ways Vendors accomplish such a Partner Program is not just by publishing a list of their Partners but by actually offering client referrals.
If vendors want me to refer to them, then turnabout is fair play. I want them to refer to me. Such an arrangement formalizes the relationship and creates a mutually beneficial environment as part of the Partner Program.
2) Partner Training
Only offering formal recognition is minimal for most ProAdvisors, who are only looking for formal training by their partners and not just access to recorded YouTube videos or PDF downloads. Nor do ProAdvisors want to participate in the webinars open to the public.
ProAdvisors want training that is specific to the partnership. They expect to be better trained than their clients. They expect deep dives into how the product is used and supported and what a ProAdvisor Partner can do to resolve specific problems our client(s) may encounter.
3) Partner Certification
Product certification is the next progressive step in the partnership. ProAdvisors want basic certification centered on completing the essential courses and also want more advanced levels of competency recognized. Perhaps these higher levels are based upon training and examinations, but maybe they are based upon successful software installations. This might be 10 installs or 50 installs, depending upon how prevalent of the app is.
You might see 10 for a significant product that typically involves 40 or more hours to configure, but it might be 50 for apps that can be implemented in under two hours. User feedback should also be figured into this equation, bringing us to point No. 4.
4) Partner Feedback
ProAdvisors need a formal mechanism whereby the vendor gathers feedback from end users. It is fine with me if it is optional for my client(s), but we want it to be an integral part of what the vendor does to help us determine how good a job we do as a partner.
At the same time, I want an open channel, whereby partners can provide feedback to our vendor partners. You must know that we have a voice and expect to be heard.
5) Free Software
Most vendors do this, but some only offer free trials or limited working/demonstration copies. A working copy of the app or software will not do the trick for most ProAdvisors looking to become vendor partners.
If we must learn and know the app from the inside out, we need the complete software/application with “all” the bells and whistles. Suppose a vendor wants to tag my copy for a specific limited time that runs concurrently with a partnership or certification that is okay with me.
Our partners shouldn’t think we will necessarily use their product for our own business use. Chances are we’ll use the app or program as a working real life demonstration—typically, configured and re-configured over and over into meaningful examples that our client(s) will find beneficial.
I mean, even if I’m only dealing with a timekeeping app, my law firm clients don’t want to see an example based on some plumber, nor do my plumber clients want to see an example of timekeeping for some lawyer.
ProAdvisors want a phone number and email that takes them to a dedicated sales rep who is not going to undercut us once we have given them the name of our prospective client(s).
ProAdvisors expect their designated rep to know them by name, know their practice size, know all of “my clients” using their software/app, and know who they are dealing with (that I’m not some amateur calling in for the first time unless of course I am).
ProAdvisors want another phone number and email for their technical support rep and expect them to have the same level of comprehension as their sales rep. Furthermore, they want a technical support rep who is smarter about the product than they are.
ProAdvisors don’t like talking to someone who has never encountered the problem they are calling about. They expect an expert who can actually help when they cannot resolve the client’s issue.
7) Super-duper Discounts
ProAdvisors expect to receive the best discounts for their clients that exist on the planet. They don’t want to hear about users who call in directly to sales to get a better deal than the ProAdvisor can offer their clients.
ProAdvisors want their clients to always find the best price by contacting them, whether that’s an initial sign-up, an add-on or an expansion of service. If vendors want partners, don’t disadvantage them to the offerings made by your internal salespeople.
8) ‘Give Me the Money’
That’s right, ProAdvisors want commissions, residuals, pass-backs or any other form of compensation you want to share as a reward for our hard work in selling your app or software. We know we cannot dictate the funding formula for every vendor, but if you make it fair, you will prevail.
ProAdvisors don’t have a problem with a two-tier system. If you want to have formal resellers who purchase the product from you and then sell it to their clients, that is okay, just as long as you also offer a referral program.
9) No Sales Quotas
Vendors, please don’t think ProAdvisors have nothing to do but sell your app or software. Your product must fit into our practice. I cannot imagine any ProAdvisor who only focuses on selling only one or a few apps.
Many ProAdvisors support more than 50 apps. They have to stay trained and certified on many of them. Some apps are far more valuable than others because of the consulting time they generate.
If you think ProAdvisors will focus solely on selling your app, which results in two hours of consulting time, instead of some software that generates 100 hours of consulting time, you are living in a dream world. But when your app is a match for one of our clients, you will get the attention you deserve, just like my client.
10) ‘Don’t expect me to pay you to sell your software/app’
We don’t care what you offer in the way of No.s 1-8 above. Most ProAdvisors are not ever going to pay you for the opportunity to sell your software. They don’t believe in buy-in partnerships.
We are sorry the Marketing 101 class taught in your junior college preached everything involving revenue sharing should run like a franchise. We are not selling fried chicken, pizza or ice cream, so if you try to treat us like we are, you will find your Partner Program is a “Partner-less” Program.
To sum it up…
I can think of a perfect example of these 10 partnership steps. That app was TSheets. Early on, it welcomed and sought ProAdvisors because it realized ProAdvisors put apps together with their QuickBooks clients.
TSheets became one of the fastest-selling apps in the QuickBooks ecosystem because it offered all 10 of these things. Its success was so phenomenal that Intuit purchased TSheets and later renamed the app QuickBooks Time.
It is possible for a great app to have a great partner program if they follow these ten steps. If you are a vendor with a partner program or considering implementing a partner program, go ahead and “make my day” and post a comment below.
I will be more than happy to visit with you about “Murph’s Perfect App Partner Program.”
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