The roadblocks to hosting partnerships

chrislema-face

Every week or two I get on a Clarity call with a product company that is sure they're a perfect match for a particular (or any) hosting company. On most of my calls they want advice on approaching these hosting companies.

Sometimes they want me to do the introductions for them—as they're not known, and I have good relationships with several hosting companies.

Of course, from the more than 100 requests to be introduced to a host, I have only ever introduced 3 or 4 products to a hosting company.

That's a 3-4% rate, which is pretty small. So today I thought I would tell you all the roadblocks that limit you from all those hosting partnerships you're looking for.

Side note: These same reasons are applicable for a lot of people that want partnerships in general.

Five Roadblocks to Hosting Partnerships

1. You're solving a problem they don't have

Hosting companies have a lot of challenges. Tons. They have to train their staff, monitor support experiences, sell (both up and down market), and manage all their infrastructure. Beyond that, they have issues with performance monitoring and financial performance.

These are all real problems.

You know they don't have? They don't have a huge problem with an SEO plugin for all their customers, or a fast slider for all their customers. That's not at the core of their business.

So when you arrive and you're ready to pitch a product—make sure it's aligned with real problems they actually have, not fictitious problems that sound good in your head.

If you want to know if it's a real problem, see if they have a person in charge of solving that problem. Or if they're hiring someone to solve that problem. Or see if they're willing to talk to you about how bad the problem is. If they don't have time to talk, your topic isn't likely a pressing issue for them at that moment.

2. You want more money than it's worth

A little more than a year ago, I think, I got to work with WP101 as they began talking to GoDaddy about partnering. WP101 clearly solved a specific problem and it was one that GoDaddy wanted help with. From the look of things, that relationship is still going strong.

But what WP101 didn't do, which most companies do, is show up to the table with an expectation that they could charge the host the same money they were getting from customers directly.

Most companies just have unrealistic expectations about their own value to another company's business.

What it means is that they don't yet understand the cost dynamics of the entire lifecycle of a customer and the interactions involved in that business (rather than their own).

To be different than those others, you need to be clear about the relative cost and value that your solutions provide withing the context of another company's cost model.

3. You're not ready for the resultant volume

One of the challenges that many product companies have is that they're thrilled about the potential volume of new customers because of this new distribution relationships, but wholly unprepared for the potential volume of support from these new customers.

If you don't have a demonstrated ability to work with larger volumes than you're managing right now, maybe it's not the time to look for a relationship that will drive tons of new customers your way.

You need to make sure your support team isn't maxed. You need to have plans for much higher support volumes. And no, hope is not a strategy. You can't hope that customers will all embrace your solution without any issues.

4. Your solution doesn't work with their environment

Different hosts have different infrastructure. If you want to talk to a specific one about a potential deal, make sure you know their infrastructure and whether your product will work on it.

Don't be like the silly people that send one generic resume to 20 different companies for 20 different positions, all with the same title and goal sections on it. It looks like a broadcast email. And in the case of partnerships, this kind of dynamic is equally ineffective.

Prepare for every discussion with every company as if you've built your solution uniquely for them and their situation. If you can't contextualize your solution, you likely don't know enough.

5. You are impatient

Let's assume you're a small company. The thought of partnering with a GoDaddy or WP Engine is so thrilling that you can't help yourself.

Here's the thing.

Those are companies with tons of different initiatives. Their staff are busy. They're focused on executing on the short-term work they have in front of them, while considering some of the long-term work that they could focus on.

If you're in a rush—either to have the next meeting, to sign a contract, or even to get paid—you likely don't understand yet what it looks like to work with larger companies.

Persistence is key. But recognition that different organizations (of different sizes) work differently than you do will also help you substantially.

Conclusion

If you're thinking that your product is perfect for a hosting company—or any company—and you'd like to talk more about it, I recommend that you check out Clarity and get on a call with someone like my friend Shawn Hesketh who can tell you about his experiences.

Obviously, if there's anything I can do as well, I'm happy to do it.

But the core of this message is that most of the work will have to be done by you. And it's work you can do, once you recognize these five roadblocks.

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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