Agency Partner

How Signifyd executed a large positioning change with the help of their top partners.

Alex Glenn
October 15, 2021
51
 MIN
Listen this episode on your favorite platform!
Agency Partner
October 15, 2021
51
 MIN

How Signifyd executed a large positioning change with the help of their top partners.

"Leverage the resources and your resources are your relationships."

Product Position Changes & your Partners - how Signifyd executed a large positioning change with the help of their top partners. 


Today’s discussion is perfect for any teams out there who know they need to (a) inform, (b) train, and (c) rely on their partners to successfully-execute a positioning change, pivot or enormous product release.

To get an idea of how this can be done, I invited James Denker, Director of Partnerships for Imagination Media - someone who is no stranger to massively-important partner programs, and one of his closest tech partners from Sygnifyd, Senior Partner Manager Megan Blissick

Megan has just undergone a company positioning change wherein Sygnified moved from fraud prevention to revenue operations and optimization.

So of course, we learned how this impacted partnerships. 

In this episode, we uncover: 

  • Knowing these two partner personas.
  • Understanding what it’s really like on that partnership island for both sides.
  • Megan’s favorite plan of attack for activating new agency partners.
  • Enablement structure strategies from James.
  • How Megan folded partnerships into Signifyd’s recent pivot.
  • The timeline and strategy to bring partners into PR.
  • Hiring your partner managers from an agency.
  • Driving value for your partners.
  • Final words of wisdom from Megan and James around partnerships-led product endeavors. 



 Resources: 

Sendoso - The leading sending platform.

Partnerstack - Partner tracking and payouts.

Reveal - A free account mapping solution.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Megan: Having our product team internally lead that. So again, kind of lattice thing, our relationship it's a little bit more 

[00:00:05] James: making sure the teams have like the bullets in the clip. How does that apply to partnerships and how can you create black and white through a lot of gray that you experienced from an agency perspective, leverage 

[00:00:17] Megan: the resources and your resources are your relationships.

[00:00:19] Alex: If you don't.

[00:00:24] Megan: Welcome to make them famous. The podcast about partner enablement 

[00:00:28] Alex: podcast, uncover both how partner teams enabled their partners and 

[00:00:32] Megan: how other department leaders enable their partner teams to achieve success. 

[00:00:38] Alex: Welcome back to make them famous as usual. I'm your host, Alex Glenn. And in today's discussion.

[00:00:45] What we wanted to do is dive deeper into a scenario that many companies have been in where they have a partner. They have a big pivot coming up or a big positioning change or a big integration coming up and they have to include partners in it. You have to make them informed, aware they have to train up their teams and what's going to happen in this positioning, change, this integration, this pivot, whatever it is.

[00:01:12] And then they have to rely on their partners to help execute that to success. Whatever success is, it could be revenue. It could just be making sure the brand's intact and you don't lose customers, whatever. Partners are involved, whether you like it or not. And you have to make sure that they're informed and aware and ready for it.

[00:01:31] Uh, to get an idea of how this can be done to success. I invited James Denker director of partnerships at imagination media, someone who is no stranger to massively important partner program. Coming from IBM and Trustpilot. And with him, I asked to bring his favorite partner manager at Signifyd senior partner manager over there.

[00:01:53] Megan Megan has just undergone a company positioning change where in signified move from. Prevention to revenue, operations and optimization. So of course we learn how this impacted partnerships. If you're in this position, please listen. In this episode, we uncover knowing these two personas and what they're going.

[00:02:17] Understanding what it's really like on the partnership side for both of them. Megan's favorite plan of attack for activating new agency partners, enablement structure strategies from James. How Megan folded partnerships into signifies recent pivot, the timeline and strategy to bring partners into PR hiring your partner managers from an agent.

[00:02:43] Driving value for your partners. Final words of wisdom from Megan and James around partnerships. Product endeavors. Before we dive into that, take a quick listen from our amazing partner enablement sponsors. It takes a ton of time and energy and money to get this thing going and keep it going. So we reached out to a few of our favorite partner enablement technology platforms for this sponsorship.

[00:03:11] So I'm going to go ahead and show you who we brought. First partner stack partner stack is the number one rated partner platform for software companies. Partner stack works with top companies like monday.com, unbalanced, who was just on the podcast, inner calm web flow. Uh, some of the companies that.

[00:03:31] Partner staff to make sure that their partners are happy. Uh, we advise many of our post-program market fit clients to demo partner stack when they are ready to scale revenue through partnerships. Uh, we also talk a lot about co-selling in this podcast. We talk a lot about co-selling between agencies and tech, as well as tech to tech.

[00:03:53] And one of the platforms that really shines for both sides of our ecosystem, the agencies and the technology is reveal reveal, just launched version two. They have a, an amazing UI and UX and our agencies. And this is the thing with these co-selling partnerships is if one of the two sides does not have the tool that you're trying to use, you can't effectively Cosell.

[00:04:21] So, uh, we recommend reveal, um, number one, because it's a great product. Number two, because you can integrate CRM for free and map data without hitting a paywall, many agencies will stop when you try to refer them to a tool. That is too expensive and a, and that will crush your ability to effectively co-sell with agencies in particular.

[00:04:44] It's, it's super important to check out reveal book a demo it's free. Why not? Uh, SIM DOSO is our third sponsor of the show. They've been an awesome sponsor and awesome. For us in many ways, there are also in one of our programs, but some DOSO is the top sales and partnerships teams. Number one choice for gifting and sending.

[00:05:08] They are the leading sending platforms and DOSO is the most effective way for revenue teams to generate. More revenue and stand out and engage their strategic points of contact throughout the partner journey. So if your tech team listening to this, I'm sure your salespeople are using San DOSO or.

[00:05:30] Something similar, but check out what they have to offer. They just released a number of new features, both for partners, as well as for end users and a it's slick and it is fast and it is robust. So please check out some DOSO check out reveal and check out partner stack links below and as usual. Enjoy this episode, right?

[00:05:56] Megan: Hi guys. My name's Megan, I'm our senior partner manager over at Signifyd. So I partner with system integrators within the e-commerce space. That's any developer agencies, consultancies, anyone that really plays in the tech stack. And I have with me, my partner over at imagination media. 

[00:06:14] James: Happy Monday. Uh, my name is James tanker.

[00:06:16] I've been in the space now probably close to five years. Um, so my title is director of partnerships on the agency side. Um, I wear multiple hats. So my, my fundamental purpose is to, um, drive mutual value through, um, all different types of enablement, whether it's training education. What is the best in breed in specific platforms with the tools you should be leveraging, implementation, implementing digital marketing transformations, anything from the MarTech ecosystems.

[00:06:50] Um, really, you know, uh, a little bit across the board. I do a little bit of, uh, PM PMO governance over. Um, some of the project management team. So, um, I stick typically most of my time with the relationships with the platforms, uh, the Klaviyo's of the world and, uh, you know, I, what I would like to call essential MarTech solutions that would be targeted for each platform.

[00:07:15] Uh, so a little bit of strategy. Um, and that's a little bit about my background. 

[00:07:22] Alex: Yeah. Awesome. And yeah, we connected a long time ago. Glad we got this off the ground because yeah. You're definitely someone that's been in the partnerships world a while. That's great. But you also have been on both sides of the partnership equation, which is rare.

[00:07:36] And I don't know, Megan, have you been in the agency world at all? I didn't have time to go through your whole background, but have you ever been inside of an agency working in a new. 

[00:07:45] Megan: I have, yes, I worked at a digital marketing agency for a couple years, so I was able to transition over from the agency side to the tech partner side, uh, which definitely came with the benefit of understanding who I was talking to on the other side of the phone or zoom call.

[00:08:01] Alex: Uh, yeah. And that was, was that in recent history? Was that. 

[00:08:05] Megan: Yes. I actually left that agency on the end of March, 2020. So started a partnerships role from my apartment, which is definitely a bit of a transition from, you know, a very in-person relationship building role completely moved online. So we all had a lot to learn very quickly.

[00:08:24] Um, and we all had a lot of time to get to know 

[00:08:27] Alex: each other. I love it. That's within, 

[00:08:31] Megan: I guess that was within, and now we're over here at six. 

[00:08:35] Alex: I love it. Yeah. I mean, I talked a lot of partner teams on the tech side, a few on the agency, sides coming more and more of a thing to have an agency partnerships lead like James.

[00:08:44] Um, but highly, highly recommend pulling people out of the agency world, if you can get them. I mean, they are the ones that know partnerships, I think, from a, the right angle. Um, so James, any comments to those that are listening that are looking to hire from the agency world? I mean, what did you experience do you think.

[00:09:03] It's um, it's worth, worth looking into. And then just any feedback you have from going from the agency world over to the tech world, or the tech world are obviously over to the agency world. Sorry. 

[00:09:15] James: So for the, the founders of the agencies of the world, it's an interesting model. I mean, everything right now is in a state of mergers and acquisitions.

[00:09:23] So it's kind of a little bit of a hybrid, but what I will say is, um, The larger agencies have a pretty flushed out program. They have a lot of bodies and assets, a lot of, you know, um, a lot of butts in seats, so to speak in the context of, um, you know, partner, enablement, sales enablement, um, lead generation for marketing, there's more parent and child relationships throughout each department.

[00:09:49] Um, but when it comes to the majority of the agencies of the world, like the, the imagination media is that, or the medium-sized the 50 to a hundred, you'd be surprised how many of them are on the actual delivery side, the designers, the quality assurance, mostly the developers, and then, you know, the exact suite.

[00:10:07] So when it comes into a traditional one-on-one and agency models, I'd say the predominant force is a referral based system. Right. So knowing what horse you want to bet on, who's going to win that race is really kind of where you want to structure that tiering system of who you want to partner with. And everyone can look at it from.

[00:10:28] You can look at it from an ROI perspective saying, Hey, if I hire this person, we want to achieve X, Y, and Z. Um, usually it's, you know, business development, KPIs of how many partners that you think is going to generate revenue. Why do you think they're going to generate revenue? Like what's the measurement of success there is it.

[00:10:46] Leads generated through and then QL outbound campaign SQL qualified leads. Like, do you want them to be a part of the onboarding process? How can you help supplement top of funnel to get more qualified leads? Because traditionally we ran some numbers. I would say there's a referral that comes from a partner, has a, I think it was a 25% higher probability of closing.

[00:11:10] So th the numbers support, having someone holding those relationships, the other piece of it is, um, what do you think the, uh, that success criteria would be right? Like, I want to grow my agency or I want to get acquired by another agency. I think those types of questions you want to be asking yourself.

[00:11:30] How can someone support X, Y, and Z. If you're good at partnerships, you, you should know a little bit about digital marketing for like LinkedIn campaigns or outbound campaigns for email, for, you know, nurturing campaigns and reaching out to audiences and stuff like that. Uh, there's an MQL strategy. There's a partner referral model.

[00:11:50] Just you knowing people in the industry kind of helps move the needle and you can quantify that into dollars and cents. So it kind of gives a little bit of perspective on what your goals and objectives may be and how that person can help influence, you know, You know, each sand bucket of, you know, marketing or marketing initiatives or partner initiatives drive, uh, revenue for the business.

[00:12:11] Alex: I love it. I, yeah. And you just talked about something specific. I wanted to get your feedback on, and this is tough for anybody that's either in partnerships or in sales, you're dealing with another entity. They have someone that has the title of partnerships you're supposed to deal with. But obviously your job is to get the end, all be all product implemented.

[00:12:33] And James obviously has to get referrals back from his partner. So it creates this scenario where I'm not talking to the person that's going to implement my product. I'm talking to the partnerships person, they've got their own needs and agenda and requirements and job, you know, and that job isn't implement.

[00:12:52] We're doing the actual stuff. So you have to kind of create this system that ends up influencing and affecting that final referral, that implementation. Right. But oftentimes you're not the person that can do it. So you're just kind of like, I can facilitate something that will get it done, but I'm not the person to do it.

[00:13:09] I just want to hear, and this is more about just persona understanding, um, what it's like. In your shoes, Megan, when you're dealing with agencies and you're trying to get implementations done, you have to kind of build something here, but then you have to infiltrate, you know, you've got. Into all of the departments.

[00:13:25] What are some of the things that you like to do? Is there a phased approach when you go into marketing, when you ask for, uh, sales to get on those calls, anything like that? 

[00:13:34] Megan: Yeah. No great question, Alex. I think it's really important first and foremost, to understand who you're talking to. Said it very clearly, there's a lot of different types of agencies, different sizes specializations.

[00:13:47] So, you know, to go in as a partner and to actually bring value to your partners, you really need to understand them and what their goals and priorities are. So our onboarding process includes a lot of different factors to make sure that we're prioritizing what matters most to those partners. Um, I would say we definitely start with the ideal customer profile, you know, make sure that those.

[00:14:08] Um, you know, if you go into that call and you're, you know, your partner is working with a different industry, a different size, a different specialization. That's probably not a good fit off the bat, but you can also then figure out where you have that overlap and what those types of customers need and what they'll need from you as a partner.

[00:14:28] Um, and then we go into resource alignment, you know, where are the gaps on that team? Uh, I work with some partners that have. Fully built out media team, you know, like they do webinars, podcasts, like things like that. Every week they have a studio, they don't need me to write them an article for their, for their blog.

[00:14:46] But I have different partners that, you know, their, their media team is strapped. Their marketing team is strapped. Contributing or bringing a joint case study to the table. Um, even just bringing a guest blog post sometimes can be really needle moving and it can really align with whatever their goals are.

[00:15:01] So the better that you can actually understand who your partner is and what they need. The more you'll be able to provide to them. And that goes into goal sharing with that individual, you know, like, how are you measured? What are your KPIs? What are your metrics as a individual partner manager? Because yes, you're not the one that's actually putting signified in place, but you're my partner.

[00:15:22] You're my purpose. And you're who I'm working with every day who I get to talk to. So how can I personally. You personally. And then after all of that, I would say it leads to the information sharing because you know, you're right. Someone else is selling the product on my side and someone else is selling it on Jameson's side.

[00:15:40] So we have a lot of loops of communication to get through, and that can be. One pagers that can be lunch and learns or sales enablement sessions, uh, that can be information sharing, but ultimately, you know, I need to find ways to make sure that everyone on James's team that's in front of clients understand signified and how it can actually help them look better, how it can help them bring a solution to a client that the client hasn't thought about.

[00:16:05] So it's a lot of steps. It takes a lot more work than, you know, just the typical sales process. The sales cycle is a salesperson selling to an end user about partnerships is building our relationship. That's mutually beneficial, beneficial to both of your companies. And you really have to put in the time work 

[00:16:22] Alex: to do that.

[00:16:24] It reminds me, I'm trying to still find a better analogy for it, but it reminds me of like being the. Operator almost you have to, you know, you're, you're, you're that person that has to get everything done for everybody involved, but you know, oftentimes you can't directly. Yeah, exactly. So it's kind of, there's a new movie out on Netflix that you should check out with Jake Gyllenhaal.

[00:16:46] It's really good actually, but he is a cop and he was punished. He did something wrong. I ended up shooting someone. I don't know what he did, but he came into the operational room and he had to take calls for the police department. So everything was super frustrating for him. He's like, Hey, I want to get this done.

[00:17:02] And I was out there, but now I have to go and call his deputies and stuff like that to get them to do stuff. So he's like wrangling. And, um, and then again, it can create frustration. So I feel for partner managers that have to, you know, execute on things without being the one to actively, you know, do the execution.

[00:17:21] So, James, I want to hear it from your perspective, because you had to do this at trust pilots, and now you're on the other side of the coin, and now you work with tech companies and you have a job to do, and you have revenue numbers and you have referral numbers and all that stuff. You probably have. But what are some of the things that you like to get done right off the bat?

[00:17:41] Uh, to make sure that the relationships expectations are set, you mentioned, um, Megan mentioned some of the KPI listings and the stuff that you do early on, but making sure that expectations are set. And is there something you like to do to organize that a document, a resource, or how do you facilitate expectations and make sure that everybody's on the same page?

[00:18:02] James: Yeah. Channels like being on your own island. You know, everybody like outside sales reps, they kind of have that same analogy. It's like, yeah, I'm on my own island. I don't really have a concrete home. It's kind of makeshift. And I have to keep a row, my boat to find new business or catch some fish and bring them back to shore to eat.

[00:18:21] Right. So it's like, Well, how does that apply to partnerships and how can you create black and white through a lot of gray that you experienced from an agency perspective? I think that's probably the resounding message that I always try to, um, calm as like what's low hanging fruit. Um, Megan alluded to, uh, standing up a partnership, um, and I'd say like a data-driven approach creates a lot of, um, uh, clarity in terms of.

[00:18:51] Uh, validating ideal customer profiles relative to, um, like the cross beams of the world. Right. So I remember when I was, um, you know, when I was on the mark, when I was on the MarTech side, I didn't have crossbeams. So mapping specifically. Uh, data, whether it's trade show data relative to sales pipeline, you know, um, against customer client profiles to, um, you know, that that's just like kind of one example of finding items to work on that would, you know, Create urgency.

[00:19:31] Um, find something that, uh, bridges, the, you know, creates a bridge between those islands. Hey, there's a sales rep working on an opportunity right now, um, that you may not typically get, um, unless you kind of had your own, uh, localized. Yeah, and, uh, sourcing appropriately. So that's a great monthly activity at the beginning of the month.

[00:19:53] And you can actually get in front of a salesperson and connect teams, understand what the business pains are, what are the dirty notes you grab from those calls? You know, exchanging information, timeline, budget, authority, need, you know, all that kind of stuff. So that's a good place to source, um, activities and initiatives to work on from a pure sales perspective.

[00:20:16] Um, the other thing is, uh, enablement is just adding structure to the team. It's like, I try not to have more than. Um, one lunch and learn. I I'd really say every other week, so it doesn't consume, um, the delivery team because, you know, I think some of the stuff that is very, um, How do you say, um, rudimentary is like being a project manager versus a customer success manager and finding opportunities to either send out the partners or settle client, that kind of stuff.

[00:20:51] Um, or actually provide like specific, um, no house to solutioning a problem. I mean, all those things incorporate, you know, um, activities in the customer success space, but what do I need to do with Megan? So we bridged that gap. So creating a repository of that information. Um, not that like less is more is basically my message.

[00:21:12] So if you have, um, a very targeted, uh, uh, partner profile or directory from an agency perspective, Um, less is more so you have, um, more traction in terms of referencing narratives of, you know, some type of fraud incident or revenue optimization is the net or, you know, um, returns issues that, um, are probably going to be much more apparent in Q4 for the duty to C's of the world.

[00:21:42] Um, so just a combination of those things is how can I connect the. Through data perspective, getting buy-in from the leadership between departments. So you can bridge that gap and, you know, um, and then I said data people, and, um, you know, just the process of just having a repository of that information. 

[00:22:02] Alex: I love it.

[00:22:03] Yeah. Uh, I think product comes to mind when you're talking about product and how product managers, you know, they'll, they'll get all the information together and then they will have all the user journeys mapped out and figure out, okay, what's going to happen when, and then they'll prioritize things and then they'll have to make sure to get checks and balances, buy ins from all the departments in place.

[00:22:23] And then they'll have this. So it's kind of like that where you just have to make sure, you know what, this is great, but we aren't able to give that any attention until this is done. And then this will have to happen before that happens to make sure it happens correctly and all that stuff. Uh, you mentioned some co-selling tools.

[00:22:40] Crossbeam obviously, uh, you can get some of the stuff done with and create those bridges off of your island and make it, uh, less of an island for yourselves, uh, which is always good. Uh, but Megan, uh, definitely want to use. From you, you're in a unique position. So some of the things. James mentioned are applying directly to what you've had to get done when you guys are in this brand, not pivot per se, but you guys are going into a new sort of category possibly.

[00:23:10] But talk about that and then let's unpack some of the things you did, and then we'll get James's perspective on some of the things that the company did and what you guys are doing. Oh, let's yeah. Let's help everyone understand how you did it. 

[00:23:24] Megan: Yeah. Sounds good. So, uh, so signified a little background on us.

[00:23:29] Uh, first and foremost, uh, we are a e-commerce fraud prevention product. So our primary product that we started with is called guaranteed fraud protection. Uh, what that means is that when someone hits the buy button, we evaluate that customer. Um, we identify whether or not they are a legitimate or fraudulent customer, and if we deem them legitimate, uh, then we put a guarantee on that order.

[00:23:51] So we say, if this ends up being fraud, signified, we'll pay the merchant back in full the costs of product taxes, fees, shipping, everything associated with that particular order. Uh, so that full guarantee is what really led to what we call fearless commerce. You know, now you can get rid of all those rules that you have in your payment gateway.

[00:24:11] Say if CVV code is wrong or there's a billing, shipping, mismatch, uh, things that will cut out good customers. You know, if you're buying something and sending it to your office or you're sending a gift, but someone has in their payment gateway that you're billing and shipping address mismatch and reject any order because it could be fraudulent.

[00:24:30] Then you're cutting out a lot of the buyers. So we're able to really enable more transactions through fraud prevention. Uh, so that was a huge piece of business for us. And then when we started growing and really building off of that, we realized that merchants aren't only experiencing kind of fear of commerce and fear of accepting transactions of fraud, but there's also a consumer abuse, a slight differentiation, but fraud is someone pretending to be someone else.

[00:25:00] So I would say. You know, someone that's still your credit card or took your account over consumer reviews is a legitimate customer. That's. Acting on bad behavior. So saying that they didn't receive a product that they actually did, um, or saying that something came in damaged when it wasn't. So those fall into this kind of consumer abuse and they're viewed a little differently credit card companies don't consider those fraud.

[00:25:24] So, you know, as we're offering this fraud protection, we're not able to cover these claims for item, not received significantly, not as subscribing. Subscription cancellations, all these other charges that do come back as charge backs. So we started offering our consumer abuse prevention suite, uh, really expanding our protection of merchants past just fraud and really across the entire fraudulent abuse.

[00:25:50] Um, what we recently released actually two weeks ago, uh, is really completing that funnel. So you've gotten your order. Uh, we've made sure it actually got there and now we have this big elephant in the room, call it returns, um, especially with how much e-commerce took off in the past few. Uh, and in the past year, really, um, returns is really rough.

[00:26:13] We've never really figured out good return logistics. Um, and now add that layer of fraud on top of that. So what we're starting to see is a couple of different, uh, areas where fraud is really spiking from wardrobing, which is a customer buying clothes. And then, you know, say wearing them once or twice talking to tags in.

[00:26:32] So you buy something really nice for them. And then shipping it back, um, or something actually fraudulent, you know, repackaging a fake product that will pass a week test by FedEx or ups, and then shipping that back. And then by the time the company finds that out, um, the money and the product are both gone.

[00:26:50] So. I think the story that we, uh, we tend to defer to is the, uh, potato in an iPhone container. So, uh, that's a pretty expensive potato, uh, but this is a huge problem for merchants. And there's also this huge risk of insulting your good customer. You know, rejecting or return, um, especially, you know, if I do order clothes and they just don't fit, um, and saying, no, we think that you're fraudulent.

[00:27:16] Uh, that's a really bad experience. So we've just created a new add on product of our returns, abuse, decisioning, where merchants can actually tailor their return policies based on the actual behavior of each individual customer, not just having a blanket approach. Now what we've been seeing, you know, starting off with one product and now really having a couple of different products across the board.

[00:27:39] Um, it has caused a shift in our relationship with partners. Uh, you know, we have one product that we've educated and lunch and learns and really taught everyone about. And then once they put that product in place for their customers, that's great and we're done, but now we're not. So now we have a new sales process.

[00:27:58] You've enjoyed this product. How about do you need this one? Will this match with your needs? So we're now looking at this multiple selling approach, as well as this still new introduction approach and making sure that we prioritize educating and getting our partners up to speed on what we're offering, how it helps, how it supplements, and if it's the right one.

[00:28:20] Yeah. Sometimes there are customers that really needed the guaranteed fraud protection that don't need abuse prevention. Uh, and so there's a lot more educating to do, and there's a lot more insertion points as well. So it's really important to prioritize your partners when you're developing and changing what it is.

[00:28:36] You're actually. 

[00:28:39] Alex: Yeah. Awesome. And it's yeah, it's that pivot, you know, that most companies will probably relate to more. They're doing a big product release in six months. You guys did something way more than that. I think a product release. Yes. But change of direction. James is sitting here talking to his clients about what you guys do, telling the sales team, teaching them what's going on.

[00:29:01] Creating content, all the stuff around fraud protection. You've got this new thing back to you, Megan, for just one more minute. And then we'll go to James for feedback on this, but it's like, you've got something coming in six months or three months. Um, what is the strategy from a partnership standpoint to say.

[00:29:17] Who's going to help us make the most out of this impact. Um, Ms. PR Aereo and then also, how do we make sure to get our partners up to speed on what's happening when it's going to happen? And then there could be just a start over circumstance if you have to retrain them on the product as well. So what does that look like from a partnership standpoint?

[00:29:37] What should CEOs really know and heads of product and when, and how to include partnerships in that, any advice, and then also what happened in your scenario? 

[00:29:46] Megan: Yeah, absolutely. So in our scenario, you know, we have a new product, we have a very large partner program. So I can't really run a sales enablement session for 50 different partners.

[00:29:58] I would be very tired at this point and we wouldn't get through it for the rest of the year. So, um, so the strategy that I took when it really comes to introducing something new and changing across the board, um, You leaned on the experts. Uh, so I went to our product team internally and I said, we have this new product.

[00:30:15] Um, it's being socialized, we're publishing this, you know, you've found the business wire it's it's out there, but I've got a lot of people that need to learn about this very fast. Um, so what we actually did was put on a couple partner wide. So our whole partner ecosystem, we're invited to sales, enablement sessions.

[00:30:33] Where we actually gave everyone an overview of the product, a tour through the console, um, having our product team internally lead that. So again, kind of latticing our relationships a little bit more, making sure that the experts in the space we're putting information in the right place. And then of course providing leave behind collateral.

[00:30:51] So recordings of that session, one pagers developing and sharing out all these resources and making sure that it happened very quickly. Um, you know, I can talk to each of my partner managers and answer. No clarifying questions, but making sure that they had all the information and resources that they need off the bat, the what is it, why is it important?

[00:31:11] Who will it help and how will it help and getting that across the board as quickly as possible? I think that was, that was my strategy. It seems to have worked well. So not going with for that one. Um, but yeah, I think you really need to. We make sure that you're putting resources right in front of your partners, giving them, you know, multiple times to connect, giving them people to connect with and then always making yourself available for any of those 

[00:31:35] Alex: questions.

[00:31:37] Uh, very good. And James, you've been in this position through obviously this partnership, but probably with others, but the scenario is the tech partner has a big pivot or something changing that you need to be aware of. For clients' sake. And also just for the whole team sake, what have you experienced?

[00:31:53] What are some of the recommendations, maybe even have you been in good and bad experiences where this has happened? Any, anything at all that's relevant there? 

[00:32:00] James: I think just the fundamental, like resounding message that just keeps coming up. Making sure the teams have like the bullets in the clip and those are enablement sections, um, or the one-pagers the elevator pitches, that kind of stuff of positioning what their needs are.

[00:32:17] I mean, even taking a couple steps back from that, it's like, you just want to be proactive versus reactive, especially in the context of fraud. So if you're going to do this types of changes before code freeze, even though there isn't such a real thing as code freeze, everyone's always making changes. Uh, I always kind of view, uh, MarTech solutions in the context of like, what's like an essential utility, like, is this the light bulb?

[00:32:41] Is this natural gas line, right? Is this like a water supply thing? And I, I consider fraud as a part of that stack. So, um, it's enablement getting in front of the clients, being proactive, making sure that they have what they need. Um, and, uh, you know, it's just one of those things you can just want to have the solutions in place, um, before you have.

[00:33:02] You know, a problem that, you know, may arise and you're in like FireDrill reactive mode, you know? 

[00:33:09] Alex: Uh, I like that you mentioned that because the other side of this is like, there's the table stakes that you mentioned? I think most of that's table stakes, like as the partner manager, as the team, that's going through the pivot, you have partners, you have a responsibility to make sure whatever they did know, it needs to change to what they should know and whatever they were selling.

[00:33:28] Or talking about on the client side needs to change to what they should be selling. So replacing all that, like that's table stakes, but then what if you want to bring James? And this is for Megan, you want to bring James and some of your top implementation partners into the PR fold and say, you know what?

[00:33:45] This is going to be big. There's going to be demand around. And there's going to be searches and there's going to be interest. And our CS team is going to handle our customers. But what about those people in the funnel that need help and they need case studies to look at and they need to know examples.

[00:34:02] And then from those examples, they need to know who did that and they want to do what they did. So they need to get in touch with imagination. So the PR announcements going to go out in six months, what is your plan to say? Who can I bring in and how do I have conversations? And what's the strategy around enabling James to be a part of that launch, I guess?

[00:34:22] Megan: Yeah. That's a really great point. Um, to be a good partner, you need to also drive business back and forth. So one of the exciting things that signified is that we've really poured a lot into our partnerships team in the past year. Uh, so I joined about a year and a half ago, and a lot of it was, you know, really building up these relationships, finding ways that we can help and contribute.

[00:34:42] And I think once you have those relationships in place, it gives you a lot more space to better understand how to build a sustainable program that will support those relationships. Continuous. Uh, so, you know, we've mentioned enablement a lot. That goes both ways. You know, my, my sales team needs to understand who are the key partners that can put significant place in the same way that, you know, James's, um, implementation seem to be, to understand what are the key tech stack elements to put in place and who are the key MarTech people to put in place?

[00:35:13] So one of the things I've been working on with my team is really building out our partner program and really making sure that we're creating the resources on our side to make sure that we can. Put our partners in front of our customers in front of our sales team. Um, something as simple as a landing page that really explains the ideal customer profile so that when someone's in a sales session, they have those resources available.

[00:35:36] I think we keep hitting on the same topics of resources and enablement, right? If you have the right things in place, if you have those case studies readily available, um, then it's going to really increase your ability of getting in front of a customer. So. Um, we recently migrated all of our partners to partner stack and we loaded that full of resources.

[00:35:57] It has all of our case studies, all of our one-pagers, all of our video propositions, all of our information in there. And then partners, you know, if they're thinking about someone or they're like, oh, does signify work well? Luxury Childers, then they can go in there and they can find that case study and share it out on their own.

[00:36:14] Um, so I'm really working on replicating that for our partners and making sure that all of the things that are really critical information are also easily accessible by my own teams so that we know, oh, imagination, media handles luxury goods and you know, handles fine jewelry. So when we're talking to someone, they say, how do you put us in place?

[00:36:33] We say, here's some of the people that can really help you with. 

[00:36:37] Alex: Oh, I love it. Yeah. And partner directories handle some of this for you, which is good. Um, but yeah, at the end of the day, it's like, they're your go to market partners. So you want to bring them in early and be on the same timeline. So that by that time, that PR is about to go out.

[00:36:54] There's a published case study from imagination media, or at least content that your demand, you know, the inbound can view and absorb and, and then you're putting your partner right there. James is super excited to be a part of that. Um, James, anything around those types of, um, launches, anything that you want to talk about around just making sure that your partners are able to get some of that wave of demand and don't feel like they were.

[00:37:24] Uh, left out of that big PR wave and just left to be adding to that, you know, just left to be, oh, no worries. We're going to rely on you for referrals, but that whole PR wave that's done, but please bring us some referrals. 

[00:37:40] James: Um, I'm just trying to. Um, steer my own ship and my response here, you're looking for bandwidth allocation relative to, everyone's asking to come to the table for X, Y, and Z.

[00:37:53] Hey, I want to do a marketing push. I want to do this because I experienced that a lot. Um, cause I'm a bit, I'm basically the tip of the spear in a lot of different capacities. So, um, I think it's, you know, you kind of have like a set schedule, right. And you just follow that schedule out and. Um, there's always these ad hoc scenarios where you have to kind of pivot and pitch based off of a customer.

[00:38:19] Um, I get pulled into a lot of customer engagements where they're like, Hey, um, I want introductions to like four or five different platforms that I need to make a decision within a week. Um, so that, um, I need to allocate time toward that, right. Me understanding where. Um, where I can dedicate time to my partners is typically like an every other week, twice a month model.

[00:38:44] Um, whereas, you know, I, I use that time in between for client engagement to understand how I can solution some product. Um, some. And introductions and, um, evaluations of, you know, what's the strength or weakness or opportunity or threat of a specific platform and kind of flush that out. So having a bit of structure, um, provides bandwidth to deal with client engagements, um, as well as, uh, incoming partner requests, but at a personal level, I keep my, um, I keep my circle pretty close.

[00:39:20] Right. I only have a. I, um, I almost have exclusivity with one or two digital marketing companies and it's for a reason it's because they fit the upper echelon of our customers and that in terms of that profile and that bandwidth in terms of what they need, um, the scale of the business, the, the, you know, the, how much media buying they're doing, what, how many types of omni-channel strategies they have in place?

[00:39:45] Um, stuff like that. So it's just really, um, you know, sticking to the plan and, uh, allowing some time for like scope creep and stuff coming out of left field. Um, I'd say the other piece of it from a partner's perspective is you would get, um, triggers from crossbeam saying, Hey, someone's working on this account.

[00:40:06] Can I get an introduction coming to talk about this? It's like, you know, I have parts of my day even break it down to a daily basis from just focusing on client engagement. It's like, what Elon Musk does? You focuses on two hours on just one topic and that's it. And then he switches over to the next piece.

[00:40:24] So that just, um, creates some more definitive, um, dedication to actually accomplishing. Instead of just kind of doing patchwork on a bunch of different little things. Um, so that's a little bit of how I, you know, um, grab, grasp my day and how that's, um, supporting, you know, internal and external requests, you know?

[00:40:50] Yeah. That, that helps a lot 

[00:40:52] Alex: further. Understanding and education. This is the best thing about these episodes. We get so much information about what it's like to be you guys in the partnership, uh, equation and getting things done effectively. And part of that is, yeah, just making sure that you're organizing and prioritizing and, um, and being aware of everything.

[00:41:13] So education happens or at least the announcement happens from usually sea level. You've got something coming. Uh, then you've got a plan planning is with marketing and product. Hopefully if you're in the right organization and you're not totally on your own island, but hopefully you have, um, product and marketing in those conversations, sales too.

[00:41:33] And then you come up with your strategy and then you have here's where partners are going to fit into this launch. And now you go about, you know, reaching out to partners, letting them know what's going on and there's priorities there. Of course, everybody's got their great partners that are committing most of the, whatever it is.

[00:41:50] And then they have the other 80% that will get an email and let them know and some links and stuff like that. But you want to bring those 20% in super close, and then maybe there's even just 10 or 20 of those 20% that you're going to work with on a case study or some kind of. Or something that will correlate with the launch.

[00:42:10] Uh, you get that put together, you've got your lists and stuff that you can include people in. You've got your agencies picked out for each one of those, and then you go about reaching out to them, letting them know what's going on, getting them involved. Hopefully you're packaging up something and you've got a release coming, but then you've got your partners able to be a part of that.

[00:42:29] Social posts, announcements, content links go up and your marketing team creates some inbound, but then there's partners sourced content that gets hopefully some of that inbound and some of that PR. And then James is getting traffic and referrals and he's happy and you're happy. And everybody's happy. We were just talking about right before this, that HubSpot tried to do this with their recent operations hub.

[00:42:57] And some of the partners got left by the wayside. They thought they were going to be involved. Some other partners that were involved didn't get brought in until it was too late. And then they didn't have time to really do what they could have done. And they were kind of frustrated there. So don't do that, you know, make sure your partners are involved.

[00:43:13] They are the best customers you have in many cases. Um, so the last thing I wanted to just get out of this conversation while we have you guys, we always try to do this as like your recommendations for partner teams. I mean, it could relate to. What's going on specifically to the topic, which is this pivot, this transition, what you guys are doing.

[00:43:34] And maybe Megan, you stick with that, but then James in general, you know, what are your recommendations? Your do's and don't do's for partner operations, but I'll go back to Megan to start. Megan. Uh, what did you learn that you would advise other partner managers partner leads to do or not do, uh, with relation to these bigger endeavors?

[00:43:55] These go to market plans with partners, 

[00:43:57] Megan: anything go to market, any large overhaul, whether it be internal, external. Um, I think you really have to start small and use your team of trusted confidence. Um, it's really important to get real feedback on any work you're doing. So, you know, if we are launching a new product and having a couple people that we can actually rely on that, you know, they're closer to the end customer than we are.

[00:44:22] Um, so if I can say to James, like, this is what we're putting in. Does this make sense? Is this something you can sell? Um, that's, that's some really valuable feedback and you have to have a lot of trust built in, especially when something isn't live yet. Um, really looking at a partnership like a partnership, you know, uh, I'm working on a, uh, project internally and I go to my key partners.

[00:44:45] I'm trying to build this out. Will you help me with the alpha on this? Will you give me a good, honest feedback? Um, will you tell me what doesn't make sense to, will you give me a recommendation? So a lot of it's humility and a lot of it is really remembering that these are people that are trying to help you as much as you're trying to help them.

[00:45:02] If you have a good, healthy partnership and relationship, then you can really rely on each other and the end product of what you can see. We'll have a lot of different perspectives that are brought to the table. And more likely than not, you'll have a product that makes a little bit more sense, even if it's five to 10% change, it has the end customer even closer to mind.

[00:45:22] So my recommendation is, you know, leverage your resources and your resources are your relationship. 

[00:45:29] Alex: I love it. James, any feedback you have being involved in this type of campaign for park managers out there first and then general just do some dope. 

[00:45:38] James: Yeah. I mean, there's a couple of ways to chop it up.

[00:45:40] It's if it's an existing product that's getting enhanced or something's getting sunset and it's an existing engagement that a client's using that our, uh, delivery team is, uh, familiar with. That's always a really good place to start is, uh, Getting the dirt under your fingernails of both teams playing around with whether it's a sandbox or, um, you know, XYZ.

[00:46:05] So I usually like small groups. Um, people that are using the existing software, what they're familiar with, what they're not familiar with setting the agenda, given the general overview, having time for Q and a documenting, everything, recording the session, putting it into Dropbox, shared folder, all that kind of stuff.

[00:46:25] That's for an existing engagement, for a new engagement where somebody has interests. If it's more of like an exclusive relationship, you kind of like bring my customer base. They bring their customer base. Someone tells a story about a narrative. Hey, I was on the beta, the beta worked great. Is this something that you should consider?

[00:46:43] I was, you know, in the middle of a, whether it's, you know, return scams, like I had this huge issue of the claims of returns and, um, you know, we, I dunno. Yeah. There's different types of ways to approach that. So I. Anything from, Hey, let's get ahead of something that is going to change and making sure the team has the tools that they need to be successful, um, or, you know, running a campaign where you're inviting, you know, um, those new relationships to it.

[00:47:15] So if it's somebody that hasn't even heard of us before, um, and I'm working them through a proposal, uh, the very top of funnel and other ways to do it. You can incorporate a suggested solution that matches as a new product launch and the proposal that you're providing to that new customer. Kind of guide them down a specific track of, Hey, this is something you should evaluate for your business, 

[00:47:40] Alex: you know?

[00:47:41] Awesome. Awesome. So, yeah, just making sure everybody's on the same page, bringing them closer. Um, and then, uh, yeah, I mean the general state of the partnerships, uh, ecosystem, you guys seem to be pretty stoked. You've got new co-selling tools out there. PRMs are getting better. Um, any advice to the technology companies that are trying to build tech for partner teams, anything you guys are missing or lack, or just anything you're grateful for?

[00:48:12] Megan: It's a good question. I'm definitely grateful for CrossFit and, uh, that has reduced a lot of hours of staring at Excel spreadsheets for me. Um, I'm also very grateful for partner stack. I would say those two are really good tech solutions to have in place. Um, I guess the general advice for any partnerships on the broad scale is that it may look like a big industry may look like a big ecosystem, but like most industries, partnerships is a lot smaller than it seems.

[00:48:42] Um, you know, James and I have both been at different companies that are within our ecosystem and it's a, it's a very small space. So. Really understanding who you're playing with. Who else is there? Uh, it's not only important because people move around, but it's important because you'll all show up in the same tech stack a lot of the times.

[00:49:01] So finding the right opportunities and ways to engage, especially as, you know, you show up into the same spaces. I think it's really important, right? 

[00:49:09] Alex: Uh, anything left James? 

[00:49:11] James: I think the, the, the industry's like maturing, um, at a pretty fast pace. So, um, adopting like some of the. You know, like crossbeams definitely like an Advil for me.

[00:49:24] It definitely removes any type of, you know, manual data mapping or view look ups or anything along those sorts, you know, from different use cases, from a sales or marketing collaboration. Um, I definitely appreciate, you know, the partner programs of the world, um, that and platforms. And I have like-minded individuals such as the program that you've been founded in and kicking off that has helped, um, gain different perspectives, success, metrics, success criteria, what those, how the, how they're measured, how other people are seeing it and building more of a community, um, is definitely something that I appreciate.

[00:49:58] Um, and it's a little bit of a learning experience. Like every six to 12 months. Like I, I kind of like sit back to see. And what am I doing? Is this putting me in a position for success for myself or my partners for our company. Um, and I always kind of am a bit surprised that, Hey, I'm doing this mundane rudimentary tasks that was relevant two, three years ago.

[00:50:22] That's no longer relevant. Um, and I think those community forums that you've built personally, Alex has helped. Um, but I'm more of an organic, you know, uh, soft suggestions to start incorporating into your daily practices. So I appreciate you. Thanks, 

[00:50:37] Alex: buddy. Really, really nice to hear that. Yeah, I think, uh, Megan said James sport.

[00:50:43] I think it's more one-to-one tools are great, but scaling of partnerships, I still think is like, not something people should be focused on. I think you got to bring it down to the grassroots and do things together, you know? Just things together and yes, track it, report on it, of course, but do more stuff together.

[00:51:03] So, um, very cool guys. I learned a lot. This is a unique type of episode that we didn't have. So thank you very much. And I'm glad we got this recorded. Uh, James, you and I'll talk sometime in the future. I'm sure Megan, hopefully we'll be in contact more often and, uh, congrats on a relationship and your guys' success.

Thank you for listening to our podcast. Make sure to also check out our services at Partnerprograms.io and the new product for managing partnerships in one place: Partnerhub.app