SaaS CEO or Co-Founder

Jog > Crawl > Sprint Partnerships Strategy w/ Cory and Ross from Maropost

Alex Glenn
March 30, 2021
51
 MIN
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SaaS CEO or Co-Founder
March 30, 2021
51
 MIN

Jog > Crawl > Sprint Partnerships Strategy w/ Cory and Ross from Maropost

"I'm in the business of relationships and I help figure out how we make money together."

This is another special episode with a team who are going through some massive changes, - they just made a huge acquisition of another ecomm product while growing their new partner program to secure their place as the mid-market solution.

And they have one person running partnerships, our friend Cory Snyder, VP of channel at Maropost. With him is Ross Paquette, the CEO. Ross does not have experience with partner programs coming into this, but Cory is a channel master.

The two of them have aligned on goals, the strategy, and of course the culture. Ross is fully-bought-into the idea of truly partnering with service providers, implementation experts, consultants. Cory is steering the ship and doing so in a fast and effective way. In this episode, we learn about Corey's jog, crawl, sprint to get this program to viability and profitability quickly. 

Sections: 

[00:04:54] - Intros

[00:07:39] - Cory’s checkboxes before deciding to run Maropost’s program

[00:11:19] - What’s surprised Ross most during rollout

[00:14:36] - The structure of Maroposts partner program

[00:19:01] - Program metrics and goals

[00:22:38] - What partner's source revenue looks like for Maropost

[00:29:49] - Cory’s SOPs for partner enablement

[00:34:24] - Where Ross is involved day-to-day

[00:42:34] - How customer success interacts with partnerships




Resources: 

Sendoso.com - The leading sending platform.

Partnerstack.com - Partner tracking and payouts.

Sharework.co - A free account mapping solution.

https://www.maropost.com/partners/


Episode Transcript

[00:04:54] Ross: [00:04:54] So just to start from the beginning  so we've been around for nine years and haven't had a partner program to date so effectively  we did have partners, technology partners, agency partners, resellers, and so on, but they were never really organized. And when I say they were really organized  outside of just being in our CRM system and so on, there was no.

[00:05:12] Method of tracking customers who had referred her to customers, partners who had referred business to us, no system to track  kind of anybody applying to become a technology partner, nobody applying to become  a reseller and even the ability to just share  documentation and data with them outside of.

[00:05:29] Let's say the general knowledge bases and so on. And so what I came to realize that a lot of our competitors, maybe this would seem like common sense to many, but we're generating  sometimes 30, 40, 50% plus of their revenue from the partnership side of things.    It's a bit of common sense that was occurring there.

[00:05:48] So we  very quickly and much like we've done in other areas of the organization focused heavily. Excuse me. Focused heavily on  finding the right person to lead that team. And so one of  a mutual friend of Corey and I's. Brought us together. This was   the only  individual we were looking at or talking to, or thinking about.

[00:06:09] And it became very clear  that was going to really power  not just a successful partner program, but even the idea of starting a more formal partner program. So as soon as I met Corey  it was very clear  visibility's and experience and knowledge and understanding.  And of course, most importantly, his work ethic when it comes to launching something like this from scratch.

[00:06:30] And I think a great Testament to that, that I doubt any of us have seen elsewhere is we have three different products and we launched our partner program within the first 30 days on Mariposa, which is  a 50 or D company doing 50 million in revenue give or take. And so I think that was just really important to how  we were able to kick things off and see that    instant value, right? Because otherwise things drag on, you're looking for hires, you hire one person, they want to hire a team.  Things don't really progress in the right way. So finding that key individual, like Corey was just pivotal to the discussion. That's 

[00:07:07] Alex: [00:07:07] great to hear. Yeah. That perception from the Genesis, the ideation of the partner program, that's very compelling.

[00:07:13] Very good for them. Other CEOs and partner managers to understand that mentality. So thanks for giving that. And Corey, the question back to you is  first and foremost, let's talk about the partner program, but in this discussion, talk to me about how you really analyzed the state of Mara posts and their readiness for a partner program.

[00:07:33] So let's start with that question when and how did it makes sense for you and what were the key things there? Yeah. 

[00:07:39] Cory: [00:07:39] Good question. I think one of the biggest things for me was the. The fact that Ross was a 100% bought into partnerships.  I've worked a lot of organizations over the last 12 plus years in partnerships, and that was probably the biggest hurdle that you run into.

[00:07:53] And I think across all of  channel partnerships, you'll hear this across. Many of them is. One of the biggest issues they run to  is that CEO or the executive team being put into partnerships and the methodology, the whole commission structure and the whole nine yards coming into the conversations with Ross, it was very clear that he was very much into and super excited about what we could do with partnerships as it already was in his head and already floating out there and the relationships he already owned.

[00:08:20] And just to expand that and really look at what the possibilities were. So that was step one was. We had the executive team all about it, specifically, Ross in, on top of that, Ross was willing to co-head this with me and really go aggressively in that. And so within the first 30 days, yes, we launched the partner program, but we really couldn't do that without Ross's backing.

[00:08:40] We couldn't do that without the incredible team that we currently have, which allowed us to be, to get to a point where we're at 200 partners now. And put it in within four months. And so we're seeing a lot of that momentum in, in historically you would see a partner program  really mature after six months.

[00:08:56] We're starting to see that actually after about  I would say three months to  to 60 days give or take.  And so one of the things that we did specifically to jump in more of the tactical piece of the pie is we looked at what is the profile look like, that we want to go after. Specifically. So what are the profiles we currently have?

[00:09:15] The Ross is currently in a relationship with, from a partner side. And then what are the other opportunities? Are there other relationships that we don't have and then work? Can we accelerate those relationships? And so that's where we came up with the three programs that we have today, which is trust advisor.

[00:09:31] Really an extension of our marketing team. Then we have our agencies, which is an extension of our sales team. And then we have our app partners, which is really an extension of our  you would say customer support or customer success team, as well as  a very effective way to keep customers sticky as part of building out a tech stack.

[00:09:50] And so that's how we came up with that methodology. And obviously it's a little bit deeper than that  as we dive in through this conversation, we'll share some of that, but ultimately through looking at who we had currently. The knowledge of just Ross and I in the market and into the industry, seeing what other partner programs have done, the good, the bad, the ugly, being able to pull something together to say, okay, here's our V1, here's our MVP partner program.

[00:10:13] And then we'll revamp it after six months as we have data and we can, and we'll share some aha moments that we've had over the last four months  with you as well today.  But does that answer your question, Alex? Is that we've  yeah, it was 

[00:10:25] Alex: [00:10:25] really  understanding the boxes that you check.

[00:10:27] You're a professional in the space you've been in it for, I don't know, 15, 20 years now.  You've been in. Partnerships for awhile. So you have to check certain boxes team buy-in, especially from the CEO that's first and foremost, it sounds like for you, and because partnerships exists as its own, essentially its own product.

[00:10:46] It is its own thing. It's more about what you have. Around you to make it successful. Then the product itself Maropost is a great product, but with partnerships, it really is a standalone thing. So I like to hear that. And Ross, you're learning as you go. We talked about your experience with partnerships before bringing Corey on, and co-running this program with Corey.

[00:11:05] So now I want to hear some of the surprising things that you're learning and maybe just things that have changed. Maybe your perception was X and now it's Y but what are some of the most surprising things that have come up that you're experiencing as this program rolls out?

[00:11:19] Ross: [00:11:19] I think the most surprising is that there are far more individuals and organizations that truly do want to partner and truly do want to provide  let's say an equal amount of value to one another.

[00:11:32] I think when I was, again,  doing this on my own and  meeting industry people at agencies and tech partners and so on, it's always  felt like maybe, and again, maybe because there wasn't any structure around it. That it was a bit of a one-sided relationship, right?  Everybody wants the other person to bring a customer to the table or something.

[00:11:52] That's going to generate revenue for them. But it's very difficult to get people to figure out how they're going to get the value back.  So somebody brings a client to Mariposa. We want to make sure  how are we enabling you to do well, whether it be from a financial perspective or a business perspective, meaning like selling them their services or providing them with their technology as well.

[00:12:10] I think know, as Corey mentioned, we went very quickly from let's call it zero to 200 partners and frankly, with everything going on at neuro post and acquisition taking place  we'd probably be at 500 partners. If I could dedicate more time to it, just myself, let alone with Corey students. So  I'd say that was probably the biggest surprise is just how many people really wanted to work with us and wanted to work with us in a formal manner.

[00:12:32] Awesome. 

[00:12:33] Alex: [00:12:33] And then one follow up question to that, and then we'll go back to Corey with more details about what the program is, but  what do you believe about it? About the program is bringing in the most interest is causing them to really want a partner. Like you said, is there anything that you are seeing them gravitate towards about it?

[00:12:51] Anything in particular?  For 

[00:12:53] Ross: [00:12:53] us,  there's three  again, we've got three sort of standard partners for us. It's tech partners, agency partners, and then trusted advisors, which are effectively referral partners.    Each one is driving. I wouldn't say equal necessarily, but. A relatively equal amount of interest.

[00:13:10] There are.  A long list of  technology applications, whether it be payment platforms, e-commerce CRM   data related solutions that really want to partner with us in a more, again, organized manner. There is a laundry list of agencies who provide services to customers like ours and vice versa who want to have  again, more formal structures, whether it's.

[00:13:34] Reselling our product or whether it's simply partnering for things like services, which I do think is going to be critical, especially as we grow. And  then there's literally just the trusted advisor side, given the relation that we have with our customers.  Pretty much every client that we have has become a trust  it has become  a partner in some form as in  w we grew at Mariposa by word of mouth.

[00:13:58] Now we've just  we've benefited from that over the years without any       benefit back to those individuals. And now we can truly provide it.  Why wouldn't they want to sign up instantly and why wouldn't they want to receive any information that they can then relate to their networks and  drive value for both sides.

[00:14:16] That's 

[00:14:17] Alex: [00:14:17] awesome. Yeah. It's really great to have those different partner types on the service provider side  that you can lean on to help one another. And you can matchmake internally and create those circles that Corey and I talked about in some previous content. But Corey, back to you, I want to hear a little bit about what is the program today?

[00:14:33] What is the actual structure? And 

[00:14:35] infrastructure 

[00:14:36] Cory: [00:14:36] of the program. What we've done to make that possible actually is just leveraged automation. We'd love to just leverage that what we would consider the best in breed tools to support us in  onboarding and delivering resources and things like that. So we currently use partner stack as our PRN, which honestly was one of the major ways that we were able to launch in literally three weeks.

[00:14:56] With a partner program across all three, obviously there's a lot of contexts there of what commission structure do you use in certain things that you come up with from a strategy standpoint. But  ultimately partner stack was one of the biggest things that we used as far as the PRM to help us organize everything.

[00:15:12] First and foremost, put all of our partners into one system. I can communicate directly with the partners through that system. I can send out mass emails, I can provide resources. They have there it's easily accessible from a tracking link and things like that. So that has allowed me to scale it. If you will, to 200 partners to be in a position to where I'm communicating with the partners.

[00:15:34] One-to-one as well as obviously jumping on phone calls and things like that with them.  But this applied to all three  areas of the, all three of the programs. And so that, that was. Ultimately, what was massive in our ability to scale was one again, having that, that  executive buy-in meant, Hey, we need to add another product or another platform to help us scale this program and do it in a way that again, The biggest thing I think harder programs struggle with is they launch a partner program thinking it's done or thinking they've got it locked in.

[00:16:08] That's a different methodology than what I have and what Ross has  our methodology is let's launch something, get it out there. Let's pull data. Let's understand who are the partners that are the most successful to that? What does that profile type look like? And then after about six months, four to six months, we, how we now have a visualization of.

[00:16:24] Who is the best partner potentially for us, or who's the most effective and where have we failed the other partner programs, where are there opportunities for us to do better so we can increase and expand those relationships. And so that's really the way that we've looked at is let's get something out there, but to do that, instead of adding a bunch of additional headcount, let's leverage technology first.

[00:16:44] To get an understanding, get a data. And then at that point in time, we scale. So the next hire that I make is probably not going to be a partner manager from the sell side. It's probably going to be somebody to own onboarding and to get them up and running within their first 30 to 45 days and really ramp that piece of the business.

[00:17:01] And that would be a different change or different methodology. Then you would probably normally look at, which is like lead with sales. If I can get  the partners. To understand the program, the product, to understand how to leverage their links, understand how to leverage the resources and get them to do it themselves and encourage them and make it stupid.

[00:17:18] Simple. Then we don't have to add a bunch of additional headcount. We'd like to leverage technology initially, as we scale. And as we understand who the partners are, what do they need and solve so forth? That was probably a massive info dump. No, this is 

[00:17:30] Alex: [00:17:30] great.  Yeah, you hit on some things I want to go deeper into.

[00:17:33] But that's really important to know from Corey's perspective, the first hire and why, and the sounds like it's a run crawl sprint type of a strategy where you're launch. Exactly. Yeah. You're launching the program. You're immediately diving into the network, getting those hyper interested people involved.

[00:17:51] You guys have a lot of interests. 200 people in such a short period of time is a very good job. Now, or soon you'll have enough data of what's going on in the program. What they're responding to, to review it, to put a plan of action together, some SLPs that you can then hand to a partner engagement manager.

[00:18:10] It sounds like our partner, onboarding manager, someone like that instead of a sales person, instead of someone that's just going to Mark it, there is this person's going to be tasked with making sure that there's a system that is getting the partners quickly activated and then. Engage them and onboard them so that they're producing for you very quickly and generating that partner source revenue that I think both of you have as one of your main KPIs.

[00:18:34] So I want to go back to Ross for a quick second here. And Ross, talk to me about your maybe initial opinions or ideas around how this partner program was going to phase and some of the maybe changes or. New ideas that you have since seeing it in this process, and then some of the KPIs and goals that your associating to the program today  versus the program tomorrow, 

[00:19:01] Ross: [00:19:01] if it helps me, I can work backwards from those.

[00:19:04] So naturally  from a KPI goal perspective, we're focused on partner counts  for obvious reasons and the revenue side of things.  So in reality, those are the only two. Areas I'm tracking outside of, let's say also  type of partner, if a company has a goal of a thousand partners by the end of the year  what is the breakdown between each of those areas, right?

[00:19:28] How many trusted advisors do we want? How many technology partners, how many agency partners do we want? And that way we can really correlate the revenue being generated, right? Because obviously technology partners, it's not a. A standard  somebody is signing up a customer or somebody signing up a friend or colleague or so on  to the application  it's a little bit more long tail in terms of the value that we're going to be able  to associate with, say, integrating with  Shopify or Salesforce or big commerce or so on and so forth.

[00:19:57] So in terms of.  I guess the process that we've gone through today to what's changed, it's been very little because we've very much just been focused on. I'd say in some ways, almost trying to remember all the partners we had, like I mentioned, getting in touch with them and then  and then getting them signed up properly.

[00:20:18] I, I, Corey could probably speak to this as well  I'll just remember  somebody that I've known for probably the last seven years and just have totally forgot that  They are a partner in a way. And  we just need to get them into the system and then things will effectively carry on from there.

[00:20:34] So  it's  been an interesting ju just  again, short journey, which is now quit from around Cory. It was like four months, total, maybe five months  of total time spent on it. But  that's been really  an interesting piece. So it's   the best way to put it would be we're drinking from the fire hose or in this case, Corey 

[00:20:52] Alex: [00:20:52] is yep.

[00:20:52] That's a great strategy. So full buy-in on what's happening.  Getting that data in, getting those partners in. 

[00:21:00] Ross: [00:21:00] Yeah. Just to add a point there that's  that's really critical for us,  because I think  I do believe that a lot of people are doing it the way we were doing it before.

[00:21:11] Maybe with a little bit more organization,  maybe they're using their CRM and we were too. So I shouldn't. I shouldn't make it sound like we were  doing this on the back of a napkin or anything, but I think it's so important to have a solution like    partner stag, as Corey mentioned, have the proper integration into whatever CRM companies are using that.

[00:21:30] It means  again, that's what allows Corey as more or less the single person in the organization to be so effective    versus having. A team of people who have to execute on this  in a very disconnected that's. 

[00:21:43] Alex: [00:21:43] That's great. Yeah.  That sort of support as it's crucial, especially in the early days, we see a lot of early stage programs fail because of too much emphasis on revenue in the first six months, not enough emphasis on really getting that data in.

[00:21:56] Like you guys seem to be aligned on. So I just want your opinion on that real quick Ross, before we go back to Corey  on first year revenue goals and some of the things that some of the conversations that you've had and what your honest to God opinion is on first year revenue from the partner program and anything that's changed around revenue metrics.

[00:22:12] Yeah. 

[00:22:12] Ross: [00:22:12] And so for us, it's going to be quite, yeah. Significant.  I believe we're targeting five or 6 million in new revenue from partners alone, which again, wasn't the zero. Let's call it last year. But for the organizational standpoint, it was pretty close to zero. Awesome. 

[00:22:27] Alex: [00:22:27] Very good to know. And Corey, let's talk about that real quick.

[00:22:30] If you don't mind, what partner's source revenue looks like for Morrow posts, how that revenue comes in, what you guys attribute to the channel? 

[00:22:38] Cory: [00:22:38] Yeah  I'm surprised we're Austin and say  8 million, but I'm glad he didn't for the first year. No.  So first, I think that's one of the aha moments that we've had over the last four months.

[00:22:49] I've spent a ton of my career in SMB and in SMB it's  heavy agency focused tons of agencies, tons of deals coming in through agencies. And we're seeing way more of our trusted advisors and a referral type partnerships  producing more of those    referrals, if you will. And so from a partner revenue standpoint, our trust advisors are really leading that charge from that perspective in hopes that we can get our agencies up and running on the program to, to help more on the services side.

[00:23:19] So really  we don't do services. So for our partners to come in and help our customers do that  it's going to be a different view of revenue. So we look at really four metrics.  The first one is obviously new business. Then we look at expansion. Contraction in churn. And we look at all four of those metrics to try to understand how are our partners impacting those four metrics.

[00:23:39] And so this is really a new, as far as like seeing this, because we didn't have an organized as Ross  mentioned as far as  seeing how our partners are touching our customers and so on and so forth.  But as far as. That's concerned. We try to look at, we're trying to look at those things and build those processes in place so we can understand how are the partners impacting us?

[00:23:58] Because as Roger Ross mentioned, it may have been zero revenue from partners, but they could have impacted a loss of revenue   where  we didn't lose $2 million because of our partners.  By putting some of these things in place, if I just literally trying to understand it, it's going to give us an idea of how.

[00:24:15] They're impacting us, not only on the front end, but on the back end. And that's where I think your, the programs change a little bit, as far as the appreciation for different partner types is now you get an understanding of  how does the technology partner of the out partner really impact us?

[00:24:28]   The fastest way for me to get five to $6 million in new revenue is by not losing 2 million on the backend. So it's really understanding the program is built intentionally that way.  And so that's kinda how we're looking at those metrics and the, in really the first year revenue right now, again, we take the first four months, get the data points.

[00:24:47] And at that point in time, then we start getting heavily involved in different areas of the business. But. My head of marketing and myself, we are hit the hip. We talk every single day.  He's involved in almost every conversation with a partner to see how we can expand the opportunity from a marketing side, from a PR announcement, from a blog content, from a marketing piece  hip to hip with  our sales team as well, because they are ultimately getting these leads from our trusted advisors and those relationships.

[00:25:15] And so they're converting them. And so they understand who the partners are. What are the partners offer? Where are they being referred? And so that's  again, the first four months is everybody's getting to know, getting to learn these relationships so we can understand how does that revenue actually grow and where does it grow from?

[00:25:32] And so it's  a massive  holistic approach if you will, but. From a five to 6 million. That's how we're going to do it. We're going to do it by leveraging our marketing team by leveraging our  sales team and them understanding who our partners are, what we're trying to do the direction we're trying to go.

[00:25:48] And then obviously on the executive side of the house  we have a Ross's support as well as the support of the other executives to spread the word across LinkedIn. We grew to 200 partners. Half of those were I think directly from Ross and the other half were just through our marketing efforts, just through me, posting on LinkedIn and everybody else sharing or everybody's sharing about these relationships.

[00:26:08] So that's how we're looking at revenue growth  and getting that five to 6 

[00:26:13] Alex: [00:26:13] million. That's such a great answer. And Ross  I want to go back to you for a sec and I'll try to. Tee up the last  15, 20 minutes of this recording. But what I want to do is get Ross's opinion on marketing's involvement in partnerships.

[00:26:26] Some of the experiences there has anything been stressful at all, have any of the team members. Been reluctant  just your perception on how much marketing and partnerships should work together. This is important. I just got off a strategy call with a team that has 400,000 users. They have one of the most influential CMOs in marketing's recent history.

[00:26:50] And they have zero participation from marketing. They can't even get a partner included in a blog post. That's coming out in a couple of months.  Just to give you a little bit of a perception from our world  what we see. It's incredible. So I want to get that, then I want to go back to Corey to get the high level.

[00:27:05] Circle strategy of how the implementation partner works with the front end marketing type partner that works with the  integration partner to create  a holistic strategy of how you pull in different people to create more revenue. And then we'll talk about just the enablement day-to-day SOP is we'll end on that.

[00:27:22] So Ross team alignment, what is happening now? What have you instructed the team to do anything at all? That's come up. Let's talk 

[00:27:28] Ross: [00:27:28] about that. Okay. Excellent. So  we're a very close team in general, right? We've got.  250 people  which isn't that many, but it's enough where.  Things can be missed.

[00:27:39] Certainly we've not had any, I guess you'd say lack of alignment.    Corey and our head of marketing are speaking to each other    daily  there's a lot of involvement in terms of getting content out there. There's a lot of involvement in terms of  getting documentation, even out of the site.

[00:27:56] There's a lot of involvement from a design and a, to  a organization standpoint. So two peas in a pod would come to mind here in terms of. Of partnership  and  and the marketing teams. So nothing that we've seen there, that would be  a point of friction, certainly the opposite of the example you just provided.

[00:28:16] I think that would be very scary for  any organization, especially well with 400,000 users to  have marketing, not be speaking to sales.  The number one, actually, probably the first thing that Corey mentions to partners when we're on calls together is. How do we start to do some  some content  how do we rate some great pieces together that can be shared on both sides and leverage and help again, start the relationship off.

[00:28:40] So marketing is as well    poised and focused to make those things happen for him as well. That's 

[00:28:46] Alex: [00:28:46] great to hear very refreshing. It pains me when the two teams aren't working together. I don't understand how you could possibly have an active partner program. That's not involved closely with marketing.

[00:28:57] I just, it doesn't make sense. And I'm a former marketer and  I  ran partnerships at my organizations unknowingly. It was just part of my go-to market strategy with anything. I included influencers, thought leaders, implementation people, and it was just part of marketing. And then I hear CMOs and marketing teams that just don't work with partnerships.

[00:29:15] And I don't understand that sales. I  get  there's that commission and channel conflict stuff that comes up, but marketing, I don't understand Corey, back to you. Let's talk a little bit, a high level about the strategy that's being executed on. You've got three different personas. I'm sure there's some matchmaking and collaboration on both co-selling into bigger accounts with those personas, but also co-marketing together.

[00:29:37] What are some of the routines that you like, or you've seen maybe unfold maybe organically or some things that you're trying to process out and then we'll end on some day-to-day stuff and then we'll get Ross's opinion all of 

[00:29:49] Cory: [00:29:49] this. So to add a point just to what Ross was talking about, Myself and yak our head of marketing.

[00:29:55] We are aligned in revenue first and foremost. He looks at it as he, that revenue growth for the entire company. Along with me, I own all revenue growth for the company. So immediately we're aligned right? Partnerships on the trusted advisor side generate leads into our sales team of which. He is also responsible for, so there's a lineman there as well, which is super important is there's an ownership across the entire revenue  for the year.

[00:30:21] So I would say that's a massive benefit on both ends is we understand that we're in this together. This is our nut to crack and how are we going to go do it? How are we going to split it? And that's really been  refreshing that's my 2 cents on that.  As far as the  other piece of the pie.  The, as we mentioned,  the three programs and  how we're going about doing those and that whole process.

[00:30:45] So we're starting to establish our onboarding methodology with our partners in, and obviously looking at each partner differently because they are different onboarding processes. The one thing that we didn't do  is just punch a bunch of resources in our PRM. And the reason why is because going into the partner profile types, we can make some assumptions, right?

[00:31:07] For  our agencies that they would definitely want a sales deck and probably pricing sheets. We can make those super easy. But what we didn't want to do is just take our marketing team and make a bunch of resources and a bunch of things that may never get used. And so as we go through the program, one of the things that I ask in the application process is  what resources do you need to make this relationship successful?

[00:31:32] And what is your definition of success for our partnership? And the reason why is because that gives me a heads up right away on what they're looking for. And so  that, that applies to every single one of the three partner programs that we have. But what it also has me info in. Two into is I now know what I need to provide them to be successful.

[00:31:51] I think one of the biggest things people in every program see is obviously engagement, right? The whole  rule of thumb of 70% of your revenue comes  from 30% of your partners. That's been pretty standard across all the programs I've worked for. Unfortunately, it's one of those nuts that you obviously want to crack because you want to spread out that revenue across multiple partners, same thing with a revenue across your customer base.

[00:32:16] But that's  how we're looking at it is first and foremost,  let's and we keep harping on it. It's  what are the, what's the first four months of that data? What does it look like? Again? I think the aha for me and the epiphany for me was. The I expected agencies  given that  we give out a very aggressive commission structure.

[00:32:34] I expected our agencies that come in hot, super hot, wanting to get super involved with us from a services standpoint, from bringing a new customer standpoint, given  we're in the mid market industry. I also think that we have a play in the mid market industry that others aren't exposing or doing, which is that relationship.

[00:32:52] We start with relationship first. When people ask Cory, what do you do for a living? I'm in the relationship, I'm in the business of relationships and I help figure out how do we make money together? That's what I do. And so we start with that. And then at that point in time, we come up with a strategy and the structure, as Ross mentioned, we start with content we lead with not what you can do for us, but what can we do for you?

[00:33:12] So we lead with, Hey, how do we get blog content for you? How can you write blog content for us? We want to get both of our brands out there in the ether right out there in the interwebs.  Everybody can  get an understanding of who we are and what we're doing. So that would be, I think the 2 cents  on the question that you asked and hopefully I answered it cause I've gone a little tangent once again, but 

[00:33:32] Alex: [00:33:32] that was great.

[00:33:33] And I've got, I think four or five really awesome quotes to pull out. So you've got some words of wisdom, some  great bits of advice in everything that you're answering. This has been. Enlightening already. So I'm  getting a feel for it. So I understand what the program is today. And it sounds like where it's going is very exciting  for both of you.

[00:33:53] So we'd love to talk a little bit about the day-to-day and where Ross is involved. So Ross, if you have any comments on what Corey just mentioned about the high level strategy, mainly around the sales component, thinking of partnerships, not as. A first client user, someone who's going to buy a big instance and then hopefully share it later.

[00:34:14] But thinking of them as almost the vehicle, instead of the end user, the end revenue source, what are your perceptions on that? Anything that's changed since Corey has been added? No, I 

[00:34:24] Ross: [00:34:24] mean, again, not that it's likely to be very helpful, but nothing's really changed from that perspective because we do.  I come from a sales background.

[00:34:32]     In, in Cory naturally fits within that realm, just the same. So nothing's really changed. I think our expectations of each other have probably played out, or I don't wanna speak for Corey, but have probably played out  in the best way possible, if not a better way of saying it, we probably exceeded, or I hope we've exceeded each other's expectations on, as I said before, the commitment  to the process  and actually a lot of that ourselves.

[00:34:57]  And I like to think that Corey was  was probably expecting  yeah  now I've got this role and Ross will probably do a couple of introductions and that'll be the end of that. Whereas I, I make myself available for these areas because I love them because they're customer related.

[00:35:11] My favorite thing to do is  is beyond the sales side and this is no different. To that   and vice versa.  I like to think that Corey has the ability to bring me in on any call, have me chat with any partner or have me join  things like these discussions around, around the industry and podcasts and so on, because that's really what makes this  this job or effectively this relationship.

[00:35:32] Alex: [00:35:32] And that's great insight.  It's really important to align on what a partner is.     Too many team members, not just CEO and sometimes even partner managers, sadly enough, they don't define that ahead of time. They don't say a partners. This to us, they are not a client. They are a partner.

[00:35:49] This is what that means.    If there are any thoughts on that, otherwise I'll go back to Corey for what this looks like on a week to week. Practice level, ground level in the trenches. What does it look like?  Corey, start there. If you 

[00:36:01] Cory: [00:36:01] could talk to me about what 

[00:36:03] Alex: [00:36:03] a week is for partnerships and where, and how do partners maybe interact with each other and some of the SLPs that are working really well.

[00:36:13] Sounds good 

[00:36:14] Cory: [00:36:14] to add a note to. Laura said again, that has, that was very key in the start of our relationship was the Ross based saying, Hey, I'm in this with you. So all of the set aside the time, if we need  to join calls, he was literally firing emails off constantly  Hey, Corey meets so-and-so Corey meets  this is a longtime friend of mine. They  they've referred people before we need to get them aligned and    dah. And that was massive because that was again, not only did we have the conversation as we were talking about. Me jumping over to Mariposa, but it literally came to fruition in a massive  amount.

[00:36:47] And then on top of that, and  he'd messaged me and say, how are we doing? You want more on reductions? I'm like, hell yeah, bring it on.    And that's been our relationship with Susan. Great. He's been jumping on a ton of partner calls. I keep harping on it, but it's, that alignment is so key and so important because that buy-in allows you to just get so much further  as well as it's from the top.

[00:37:05] So if Ross is into it and Ross is speaking about it, the CEO speaking about it, then the rest of the team knows it's important and knows they need to. Make sure that they're involved in that process as well.  And again, luckily enough, we have an incredible executive team, so we  really didn't have to worry about it.

[00:37:21] Their arms were wide open to bring me in.  But as far as the day-to-day is concerned, my day consists of  effective balance and time management. So I've for the most part had learned quickly to block out my calendar to be very specific from 11 to 1:00 PM. Focus a hundred percent on partner management.

[00:37:42] And so during that time, my day to day for the most part is I speak with partners. I speak with a prospect partners. So a lot of the conversations I'm having as of later tons on the integration side of the house  and companies wanting to come and integrate with Mariposa, not only because of the acquisition and the, obviously the e-commerce direction that we are continuing to push through, but.

[00:38:04] Just because they see an opportunity from a mid-market space and what we're trying to create and  what vision we're trying to set and what missions we have.  And I think that's super important. The partners are starting to see the overall scope of what we're trying to accomplish in the mid-market space that really nobody's doing mean.

[00:38:19] So I think that's an opportunity to partners are seeing that sort of saying, yes, I want to be on that ship. Is it that rocket ship as it goes in addition, early on within four months of the program, Partners have a massive opportunity to take advantage of the fact that we're the only ones marketing their posts.

[00:38:32] We're the only ones out there promoting posts. So for them to do the same, not only is it going to give them an opportunity from the mid-market space from that customer type, but it also allows them from a service side of the house. And  as Ross mentioned, we really, we  had these partnerships, but we really didn't have anything formalized, which means we didn't have an effective way to connect our customers to our partners.

[00:38:53] So one of the things we started digging into within about two months of me starting was churn reasons. Where our customers canceling. And so we really dug into, is it an integration piece of the pies that we don't have this integration or the integration isn't good enough. They just didn't use it effectively.

[00:39:06] They were seeing value out of it. And so as we started to figuring out specifically what these juries is worth, now we have the ability to start connecting partners. We start connecting. Different iterations or I can go hunt those integrations. And so I'm reaching out to 10 to 15 new relationships from  again, trusted advisors to agencies, to integrations every single week to try to really just ramp those relationships and  figure out what our customers need.

[00:39:30] As I mentioned earlier, one of the fastest ways to get to a million dollars in a year is by not having to make up 2 million or 3 million a loss. And so that's  where we're looking at it. So just last month we were able to connect. Three of our customers, to our partners, one mint  simple $10,000  opportunity for the partner to do it in integration, a deeper integration with Mariposa.

[00:39:50] And one of them had to do with just leveraging the solution at its most effective way, from a marketing standpoint, from a list management standpoint and so on and so forth. And so that's where we've, we really started to see how do we start connecting? And then we're coming up with our own  lunch and learn methodology.

[00:40:07] With our integration partners with our success team, which is how do we help educate our success team on what our partners do? I can go and add 500 partners, which. Sounds amazing, but it's really crap if you don't have, if you don't know who they are, what they do and how they impact your business. And only that is how do you impact their business.

[00:40:25] Yes, we're  at that run, crawl  sprint kind of methodology. But during this entire process, we're trying to collect as much information on our partners, trying to get them involved as much as possible, looking at key metrics within the business. And how do those partnerships cross that? And that's where your alignment starts to cross across the entire company.

[00:40:43] As soon as I, as soon as partners start making an impact on the CS team, and we can provide a little bit of lift there from making sure that they're using the solution or the reducing churn. Now the CS team's  Holy crap, they can help us. Now they're bought into the vision of partners. And so now you can see how the, from the sale to the marketing to CS, That my scope and my role crosses every department all the way into product.

[00:41:06] And I get them to understand how our partners can help us across that entire date. So that's my day-to-day. My day-to-day is working with the entire team internally and externally with hunting relationships, prospecting and doing all of that. And obviously part of management stuff. Awesome. Very cool.

[00:41:22] Alex: [00:41:22] There was a lot there, but the one thing I want to unpack to end on real quick is bringing the customers into partnership conversations  linking the customers with partners, and then where the different overlap, I guess you would say between CS. And partnerships, you guys have a tool that can be very baked into a very large stack with lots of levers to be pulled and managed.

[00:41:47] And CS can do some of that, but an expert partner that knows what's happening with all that data where it's going from posts and a what's pulling and what's pushing maybe necessary in a lot of those cases. So solutions partners that persona. So if you can talk to me, Corey, about where and how solution partners are introduced to new clients, new customers, new users, and then Ross.

[00:42:10] I want to get your opinion from a macro level, from an all hands level, what you guys have talked about and put into. Process or put into employee handbook of how partners are interacted with what their spoken  what the CS needs to speak about when it comes to partnerships and how that communication goes between all the departments.

[00:42:30] So how that works and then back to Ross  on how it looks from his end. Yeah. The 

[00:42:34] Cory: [00:42:34] fun part about it is in a lot of people would say, this is wrong, but we are ultimately  we're. W meant that I guess the lean startup methodology, right? We are just starting to do something and we're tracking those different ways of getting our partners involved.

[00:42:50]   That heavily has to do with me educating our CS team on what we have that has to do with me, just reaching out to them and saying, Hey, we have a new partner, they do this. You have, you ran into any customers that are needing that service or anything like that.  Because also when it comes to me hunting partnerships, that's gonna be super important.

[00:43:08] I don't need to be hunting these partnerships with these integrations that. Our customers are not asking for, or it's not part of the reasons why they're struggling with the platform or whatever it may be. And so  that's that relationship with the CS team is super important, but so a lot of it has to do is just keeping those lines of communication open.

[00:43:26] I joined their weekly calls or bi-weekly calls as much as I possibly can. Just so I can hear what they're talking about. What are they struggling with? Where can I potentially be involved there? How can I help?  I'm obviously working with the leader of that team to say, Hey, how do we get partners a little bit more evolved?

[00:43:41] Can we get partners to our agency partners, our solution partners to offer a quick and easy free service to all of our customers or something along those lines. And really it's this thought leadership and just playing with things and trying to see which ones stick, which ones work. The team  laughs because I use this word all the time, which are the levers.

[00:43:59] And for me, I look at how do I find 10 levers? That help us generate a percentage of revenue. And so what that means is that every single month I'm looking at three different or levers and which levers can we pull in, so on and so forth and what it allows us to use again, this gets the data. So we understand  what's that lever, what worked, why did it work?

[00:44:19] Why didn't it work?  And then that CS is part of one of those levers. But within that is again, understanding a little bit more what they're struggling with.  What's in it for them as well. I think that's. Partnerships is not just external. Your partnerships are internal and that's the way I look at it.

[00:44:35] As my relationships with the internal team is partnerships, what can I do for them? And how can I help them be more successful? How do, how can I potentially ease their day if at all possible? And then we can do that by again, connecting partners to customers, but  That's ultimately the methodology, what we're doing is we're trying many different things.

[00:44:52] We're trying many different levers to see what best fits for the team, what best fits for our partners and what best fits for our customers. 

[00:44:58] Alex: [00:44:58] That brings us to the final question back to Ross.  And then we'll do any outros, any final words of wisdom, but Ross  from a culture standpoint, but also from just an optimizing time and effort standpoint between customer success, onboarding users and where partners fill in those gaps.

[00:45:18] What would be your ideal scenario or relationship, or just workflow between partnerships and CS in particular, anything relevant there that you guys have decided, or are looking to build 

[00:45:31] Ross: [00:45:31] core area because Merrill post doesn't provide services. So we of course have  customer success, as you mentioned  and support, but we aren't.

[00:45:40] Building email campaigns for our customers, creating journeys, scripting  managing data and all that kind of stuff. Of course guiding them through the process. But where  actually funny enough with the acquisition we just made, and I mentioned this at the start of the discussion, what are the great things they had or half, sorry, is.

[00:46:00] The ability for partners or effectively for customer story to put in  work that's required into  effectively a fully automated solution that partners the customer with apartment.  I think that's actually really exciting when I think about that relationship that you just mentioned because a lot of times the  the endeavors  or goals of our customers,  require that services element and today,  it's it would be very difficult for. The mirror post side of things to    to think, okay  this customer's asking us to execute on  this customer journey to looking to launch. So let's say it's a, an abandoned cart program or a welcome series or something like  that requires  content to be built, requires somebody to log in, to build out the journey, to test it and go through all that process.

[00:46:47] I think it's really exciting that we will be able to provide not only our customers, but our CS team. With the ability to very quickly facilitate that let's call it work request or that job request  back to our partners, which is of course you then generating revenue from them and generating  as well as seamless experience around the costing side of things.

[00:47:07] So one of the things that  Nieto again, the company that we had just acquired does is they manage the billing for that entire piece. So if the partner comes back and says, all right, this    job  or project is going to be $5,000. The customer just has to approve it. They don't have to do anything from there.

[00:47:24] All the billing takes place  through their standard contract or effectively a billing process within mirror posts. So I think that's really exciting, at least for somebody like myself that  really values  the efficiency  and  simplicity of how    the partners us as Merrill post and the customer can all work together.

[00:47:46] Great advice. 

[00:47:47] Alex: [00:47:47] Yeah. And that's exciting to hear. So this is all stuff that many partner teams that have. A lot more years under their belt still don't have, or haven't figured it out.  Really where the team aligns on, who's going to do what who's going to refer to who and how partnerships is going to better everyone's jobs and everyone's  KPIs.

[00:48:06] So Corey let's end on next steps. What's going on with you? What's the next big endeavor? What are you trying to get done this quarter and how? Yeah, I 

[00:48:14] Cory: [00:48:14] mean, ultimately. We're trying to, as Ross mentioned, ring in five to 6 million this year through partners, ultimately that means a lot of revenue for our partners as well.

[00:48:25]  It's very much  not a one-sided relationship as you can hear, as you've heard  through the last  50 plus minutes. So we've been  discussing that.  But then really the best, the next endeavor is to continue to do what we're doing.  I think we're finding successes. We're obviously learning and we're failing fast, which is a methodology that I appreciate.

[00:48:46] Because it, again, it allows us to just have an understanding of what's working and what's not working.  Yes, we have  12, 13, 14 plus years and partnerships, but the world is evolving as we've seen over the last year. Things are changing.  Remote work and so on and so forth that applies the partnerships.

[00:49:03] If you've seen anything about  channel has exploded and partnerships have exploded in the last year  let alone e-commerce so really that's I think our biggest and next push is to continue to serve our partners, to continue to find the right partners that can deliver value for our customers.

[00:49:20] As well as find those partners of really wanting to take advantage of the mid-market space. Again, there's not a ton of.  Solutions out there that there's tons in the SMB space. There's tons in the enterprise space, but there's really nobody that is  attacking the mid-market space outside of Mariposa.

[00:49:35] And we're doing it from a very directional standpoint, a very mission oriented  standpoint, and those partners that want to be a part of it are gonna. Benefit greatly from that, from a revenue standpoint, we've seen it happen with Nieto and how their partners are so engaged in the successes they've seen.

[00:49:53] And we're gonna apply that methodology along with our own experience and knowledge to our partner program. But if you're looking for something a little bit different from a partner side of the house, from a relationship side of the house, you're going to find that here, I'd be happy to introduce you to, to a couple of our partners  that would vouch for us and say  How refreshing it is from a partnership standpoint to not come into the relationship and say, Hey  Alex  what do you ask for me?

[00:50:19] Who do you got in your list that  you could refer over to us and bring us revenue. Now with that mind, that doesn't mean that we're not revenue focused. We absolutely are, but we are wanting to make this as mutually beneficial as possible. And that's the way that we're leading with it. So that again, we're going to continue to do what we're doing.

[00:50:36] We're finding successes, we're failing fast.    And in reality, this could look completely different in a year, in a good way. 

[00:50:43] Alex: [00:50:43] Awesome. Great to hear.    Thank you both for being on this was a  very good look at an effective team aligned partner program, a  program that was built with the right foundation.

[00:50:56] I think so. I'm sure you guys will be successful in this no doubts at all. Congrats on the recent acquisition. It sounds like you guys have your work cut out for you, but it's all headed in the right direction. So thank you. You both for being on and we'll see you guys online. 

[00:51:11] Cory: [00:51:11] Thanks for having us, Alex.


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