Everyone Wants to Fly First Class - Including Your Partners

When you get a new iPhone, you feel something.

It’s more than the features. It’s the packaging, the way the box slides open, the sleek visuals, and everything you’ve come to associate with Apple.

You don’t need to do a side-by-side feature comparison. You trust that the latest iPhone will have more or less the same features as competitors. You pick it because of how it makes you feel. You pick it because it is a premium experience.

If you’ve ever purchased a car through Carvana you probably won’t ever go back to a dealership. Carvana makes you feel loved through the whole thing. Dealers don’t. They might offer the exact same car, but the car isn’t the only thing that goes into your buying decision.

Companies like Apple and Carvana have raised the bar and created an expectation of delight among consumers.

Everyone wants to feel like a first-class passenger.

The SaaS explosion means product differentiation is harder

There are over 30,000 SaaS companies.

Most categories have dozens of tools to choose from. And most of them work pretty well. Features get copied, and competition for functionality is neck and neck.

Your partners can choose any of a number of solutions to offer their clients. Why will they choose yours? Why will they care?

Features and functionality are table stakes. What will set you apart is how you make your partners feel.

Partners are people too

Hey want to sell our product? Here’s a one-pager about how great it is. Pass it along and send us leads.

Doesn’t really feel like a premium experience, does it?

If that’s the way you treat your partners, they aren’t going to be motivated to work with you. There’s nothing special. Nothing that stands out. Lots of vendors have one-pagers, rev share, and a desire for you to send them leads.

What if you created that iPhone unboxing-like experience? What if partners felt like they were flying first class every time they interacted with you?

Give them what they want

When a partner is blown away by your love and care for them, they will look for excuses to work with you.

  • What was your first contact with them like?
  • How did you onboard them?
  • What did they get immediately after onboarding?
  • What kind of enablement experience do you provide?
  • How do you make them feel when they interact with you?
  • Does their life get easier or harder by working with you?
  • Do you make them look better to their customers?
  • Do you help them gain new customers?

Think about every touch point in the partner journey. Ask not only what you do in a practical sense, but how they feel in that step.

The little guys too

Don’t overlook small partners.

The biggest returns to creating a premium experience tend to come from the smallest partners.

The big fish who expect special treatment won’t be as surprised.

But the partners at the edge of your ecosystem who are accustomed to a mediocre experience from vendors will be blown away if you treat them like they matter.

Any one of them may be unlikely to become a big partner, but as an aggregate, the long tail of your program is likely to contain a few future superpartners. Without knowing who they are, you’ve got to treat ALL of your partners like they matter.

You’ve got to create quality at scale.


It’s not possible to do this with headcount. You can’t afford it. You’ve got to create that killer combo of human touch scaled with the right tools and processes. You’ve got to level up your partner ops the way sales teams had to level up with CRMs. Then you’re free to create a premium experience across your program.

Let your partners fly first class with you.

They will love you in return.

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