How to negotiate for a third-party integration to increase your SaaS’ customer base

You know that to grow your customer base, you need to integrate your SaaS with third-party software. This allows you to delegate the work of marketing your product to another SaaS company and in exchange, you deliver upsell opportunities for your partner. But while this delivers you a fair amount of sign ups, a lot of vendors remain uninterested.

So how do you negotiate for a third party integration?

Many developers-turned-entrepreneurs don’t realize it, but this is their first foray into business development. Business development is the process of building partnerships to jointly create more revenue streams. Now let’s get your BD hat on. These are the steps that you need to take:

  1. Build a lead list
  2. Contact the leads, set a meeting
  3. Prospect during the meeting
  4. Pitch
  5. Feed outcomes back to how you’ve filtered the lead list
  6. Repeat

Here they are in detail:


I. Build a Lead List

I’ve touched on a simple, zero-dollar lead generation process earlier; but I’ll be running through it here in more detail. If you’ve done the steps in the link, you may have hit a barrier with regards to search queries. Linkedin only allows a fixed number of searches. To subvert this, you only need to use this specific search query in Google:

“<position>* * * Present” “Location * <location>” OR

There are two specific inputs needed here: the position and the location. See below how it translates to a search query for founders in the New York area.

“Founder * * * Present” “Location * Greater New York City Area” OR

The query should produce something like the photo below: a long, juicy 10-page list of leads.


Once she has accepted your invitation to connect in Linkedin, click on “connections”. Then, click “export connections”. Download your .CSV file.


Open the .CSV file. You’ll see a good, long list of emails that you can contact.



II. Contact the leads, set a meeting

“But that’s sooo spammy!” “It will be bad for my image!” “What if she won’t respond!”

I understand. I felt that too. But the trick is to keep the tone casual and you only need to ask for a referral. It’s only spammy if it’s “professional” and if you’re selling something. You’re not. You’re just looking for the right contact who could be interested. Here’s my template:

Hi [first name],

I hope I’m not bothering you. Could you please refer me to the person in charge of [Something that’s relevant to my product]?

Thanks for your time,


Easy, right? Once you’ve found the right person, set a meeting. Here’s another template:

Hi [first name],

[this other guy] referred me to you.

I’m [your name] and I’m [position] for [company]. We [state your value proposition].

I wanted to book a 20 minute call with you sometime in the next 2 days to discuss a potential partnership. Can you share with me your availability now so we can plan out the meeting?

Thanks for your time,


Apart from the actionability of this email, the fact that it has been referred (ideally by a superior) adds some weight to the email. This increases the chance to get your meeting booked.


III. Prospect During the Meeting

The goal of the meeting is not to sell. Rather, it is to qualify if the person will need your service or not. Think of yourself as a doctor. You don’t prescribe to a patient upfront that they need X, Y, or Z medicine. You diagnose first and then determine if there’s something that needs to be fixed or not. Here’s a starter set of questions:

  1. What are you focused on in your company? As an individual and as a company?
  2. What are the biggest projects of the company now? (ie. dig for incentives)
  3. How are you guys planning to accomplish this?
  4. How do you know that you are successful? What metrics do you use?
  5. Are there specific customer problems that you can’t solve / not a priority?

Once you have the information from these four questions, then you can frame the pitch. If you cannot solve or help their biggest problems, then tell her anyway about your plans. Also share that there’s no synergy. This is better than a “failed sale” because there are no “ill feelings” that come with a failed sale. She continues to be a contact that you can leverage in the future.


IV. Pitch

If there is an alignment between your value proposition and the objectives of your prospect, then it’s time to pitch. Here’s the process:

  1. Create a story about the problem of your prospect’s customer (ie. what your prospect is raring to solve but can’t for some reason)
  2. Tell how your solution removes that problem (ie. the value proposition)
  3. Share an example from an old client (ie. the social proof)
  4. Provide your terms for the deal


V. Feed outcomes back to how you filter your lead list

Once you have experienced an outcome (favorable or unfavorable), feed the insights back to your filter criteria. Play with decision maker type, problem type, pricing tier, etc. Over time, you will arrive at a specific segmentation that will allow you to scale your integration marketing strategy into a repeatable system.

Note: I’ve only scratched the surface here. If you like the content, subscribe to my newsletter now to get more actionable templates, tools, and processes.

  • Erin Maccabe

    Neat article! If you are considering a third-party software for your SaaS, is just about the right one for you! Lirik is a company that specializes in Saas for Salesforce and NetSuite implementation, integration, and support. Great right?