9 Things to Look for Before Embarking on a Chatbot Partnership
Year after year, the chatbot market size continues to grow.
In 2020, the global market was estimated at $430million. In 2021, we're already hitting $525million about halfway through the year (source).
There's a clear and growing opportunity for businesses to enter the chatbot market.
As marketing and chatbot agencies form, many turn to strategic partnerships with existing and reputable chatbot platforms. Partnerships, indeed, offer the incredible advantage of jumping into the market without having to spend years (and hundreds of thousands of pounds) developing a platform of their own.
Does the prospect of a fruitful and profitable chatbot partnership appeal to you? Great! Before you dive into the first partner programme you find, use the ten items below to evaluate your options and pick one that suits your needs.
1. Take stock of the partnership options available
In most cases, you will partner up with a chatbot platform.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms have been using partner programmes to grow for decades. As you scout through the available platforms, you'll most likely see the following options:
- A referral programme: you generate leads, track their progress through your partner's pipeline and earn revenue when they close.
- An implementer programme: you generate leads, sell them a chatbot, encourage them to sign up with your partner, and, finally, implement their solution.
- A tech partner programme: you already have a platform of your own and integrate it into your partner's chatbot platform.
- A white label programme: you receive a copy of your partner's chatbot platform under your brand, essentially a chatbot business in a box.
Whichever option suits you is, of course, up to you. Knowing that these partnership options exist gives you an extra edge: which one of the above resonated with you most?
2. Free to join?
According to Allbound, 90% of partner programmes are free to join (source).
There's a good reason for this. As you join a chatbot platform's partner programme, you are not only getting something yourselves (a platform to use), you are also providing the company behind the platform with more exposure and revenue.
This two-way street means most partner programmes should be free.
An exception? White label partner programme.
If you are looking for a chatbot platform to white label, this will inevitably incur a cost. This covers hosting and white labelling, as well as the cost of additional services such as priority support, co-marketing, and more.
3. A proven track record
Entering into a business partnership is a big step. You don't want to take it with any ol' chatbot platform, only to realise they're not up to the task.
Before you sign on the dotted lines, make sure whoever you partner with has a proven track record of building and delivering excellent chatbots. Ideally, you want to go even further and make sure they've done so for reputable companies in your location.
For example, we publish case studies of our partners' successes using our platform and programme.
Finding more info about their track record will give you peace of mind. If you can't crack a particular challenge, your partner will be able to help. If you close a big client, your partner has the infrastructure (security, staff, etc.) to help you support them.
4. A feature match
Before you partner up with a chatbot platform, make sure they have the features you need. Duh.
60+ languages, integrate anything, multi-channels; those are some of the features that truly set the ubisend platform apart. They're also features that continuously get brought up in our partnership enquiries.
Find out what features your customers really need, and quiz your potential partner about them. If you can have access to release notes, it's also always worth making sure the platform you partner up with regularly update their software, adding and improving features.
5. Dedicated, accessible support
Support is, hands down, the most important aspect of a business partnership.
As you embark on a new adventure, set up your goals, and partner up with a chatbot platform to deliver them, nothing would be more crushing than realising no one is ever there to help.
Before you even consider partnering up with a platform, make sure they provide the following:
- Dedicated support manager
- Video content
Oh, and make sure they're not charging you for every minute you spend with your support manager.
6. More earning opportunities
There are many ways to skin a partnership.
The four options presented in our first point are, actually, more like overarching types of partnerships. You will sometimes find there are other earning opportunities available to you.
As you speak to various providers, ask them about the available earning options. What else could help your business make more money from this partnership? Sure, you could be an implementer, but could you also send traffic and earn referral money? Worth asking!
7. Co-marketing and collateral support
The best partner programmes offer co-marketing opportunities.
As you partner up with a chatbot platform, there is a chance they have an existing, established audience that trusts them. Will they make it available to you?
Co-marketing opportunities could be:
- Co-hosting a webinar
- Co-creating a white paper
- Co-researching and pushing an insightful report
At ubisend, our partners have full access to our marketing team to research, produce, host any type of content that might help them generate leads.
8. Sales training
First time in the chatbot industry? You'll need a bit of guidance.
Even if you've been in sales for years, as some of our partners can attest, there is a knack for selling chatbots that only comes from experience.
The platform you decide to partner up with must provide you with sales training. They must help you answer questions like:
- How do you build a demo chatbot?
- How do you sell complex features like natural language processes or multi-lingual chatbots?
- How do you provide a quick price estimate during a sales call?
9. A sandbox environment to play, learn, and sell
To wrap this list up, let's discuss sandbox.
Sandboxes, in the technical world, are dummy platform accounts. They allow you to test the platform without fear of breaking things. They are, for all intents and purposes, demo accounts.
Before you even consider partnering up with a chatbot platform, make sure they provide you with a sandbox account. You will want to test their features, use the platform, play with the features, imagine you're actually building a chatbot for one of your customers.
You'll want to do all that before you engage in the partnership.
And what about after? Will they give you a sandbox to keep practising? You'll surely need one to help you pitch to your customers, right?
Again, make sure your partnership comes with a free account. Not a real one, but one you can use to test, learn, and sell.
All ubisend partners get access to a free sandbox account. White label partners also get a free live account. That's how we roll.
Conclusion: who's the priority?
As we draw this article to a close, I want to hone in on an important idea: priority.
What is your potential partner's priority?
Is it to get leads from you? Is it to get you to share their content and logo and raise awareness for their brand? Is it to make you a true partner? Is it to make you successful?
At ubisend, we decided to put the priority on our partners. We are the only partner-first chatbot platform out there. We believe our ecosystem of chatbot partners makes us stronger, which makes the ecosystem stronger -- and repeat.
If you'd like to know more, read about our chatbot partner programme.