Howdy Partners Episode #29: Developing Examples to Foster Internal Buy-In | Maurits Pieper

Maurits Pieper joins the show to discuss the partner program he’s built out over the past two years at Dixa. As head of partnerships, Maurits has uncovered successful strategies and tactics to secure internal buy-in from department heads and the C-suite. Maurits covers ‘partner enablement’ as well, reinforcing the idea that it takes time and support for sellers to learn partners’ products.

Maurits covers challenges he’s faced as the partnerships motion at Dixa has grown, and how those challenges have shifted with the growth of the department. He brings an optimistic perspective as he talks through examples of people in other departments at Dixa who are excited about partnerships. We touch on how to balance different partnerships and provide some frameworks for thinking through how to divide the accompanying workload.

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Will Taylor  00:03

Howdy partners, and welcome to the howdy partners podcast where we give you tactical insights on how to do better in partnerships. So we are joined with Marines from diksa. And what I found really interesting about his story was that he gathered this internal alignment, and he's seeing a lot of traction in his program at DEXA rates, why don't you tell us what you do at diksa? What diksa is, and then we'll dive into that story.

Ben Wright  00:32

Sure thing. Thanks. And thanks for having me. For those who don't know, the exci kind of considers new kid on the block. So we're a helpdesk platform we play in the same field as Zendesk intercom. FreshWorks gorgeous gladly customer, I lead up partnerships over here, joined just under two years ago. And it's, it's fun. It's fun, this we're starting to pick up some really cool traction in terms of the partner ecosystem and the different departments that are trying to take advantage of it. So we've come a long way in the last year and a half, two years.

Will Taylor  01:09

Yeah. So tell us about when you joined, what was the state of the partner organization? And where is it now? What's kind of the main difference? And I don't want to put words in your mouth, because I got, I got some interesting ideas around what you're working on. But you tell me about where did it start? And where is it now,

Maurits Pieper  01:28

when I joined, we probably had an ecosystem of integrations, I don't think there had been a number of partnerships that were really pointed in driving at the time. So the different departments, your classic ones have success, marketing, products, and sales. You know, these different departments, they didn't have as much exposure or experience using the Dixit partnerships at the time. But you know, that's fine. It's also just a timing thing, as you could imagine. So really, the big challenge at the time was getting buy in from the execs getting buy in from the department heads. But then, of course, the individual stakeholders that you're trying to convince of the partnership strategy and tool sets. So at the time, we were primarily a Danish Nordics player, trying to expand into Europe, as well as into the North American scene. And like I mentioned, we have some serious competitors and players that we're trying to compete with. So we knew that partnerships was a route that we had to start. And if you fast forward, you know, one and a half, two years, we would say we have, you know, round about 20 partners across both North America and and Europe. For us, it's appropriate to find a balance across the regions, but also some variety and the joint value with your own products and company. But also, you don't want to have too many partners, because you only have so many customers and, and reps that you can drive momentum with together. So you don't want to spread your spiritual partner love too thin across the board. So I think if, as a snapshot to where we are now, our marketing team is is trying to use partnerships everywhere, both on and offline, are SD STRS are pretty hungry to get new crossbeam data for outreach, our reps are using it in their sales strategy, which is always interesting to see. We're doing introductions to partners for lifetime revenue shares, we found correlation and retention rates of our customers. I mean, you name it, as you both probably know, takes patience and time to learn a whole other business little on your own, and figure out their ICP and a new person to communicate with. But and then you know, I think the ROI is is massive, and we're really just starting,

Will Taylor  03:52

you obviously did some work to gain that buy in. And so you mentioned that the team is now saying we need to do this, this is something we need to do. Like we're not going to do this through the traditional means because we've got these large competitors that are you know, across the world. So what were some of the things that you did, in terms of changing their minds, obviously, you know, we as partner people, we know the data, but what are some of the steps that you take to gain that internal buy in and have those SDRs now be hungry for engaging with partners in the marketing team trying to, you know, work with partners as much as possible, like, it sounds like a 180 from what a lot of organizations see where you know, there may be a bit resistant or they don't believe that it'll drive value. And it sounds like they're, you know, crawling over each other to to work with you. So tell me about the steps that you took over the year and a half or so that you've been here building the program to gain that internal buy in?

Maurits Pieper  04:51

Absolutely. You know, those four classic departments that I mentioned before, as much as I would love and you probably would like to do it in an The organization is convinced all of them perhaps at the same time, but that's just not realistic. So what I decided to do was look at the, you know, maybe one or two of those departments and focus on them. Right. So what I decided to do was look at marketing and sales. And I started to track early started to track manually, and track all kinds of small bits and bobs to show our influence, right, from mentions in outreach to intel on deals, and pay per process and economic buyers to the partner events. As much as I love and we all love, source revenue, indirect introductions, sometimes it might be too high of a barrier of entry. So it was all that manually good stuff, just underneath, which helped me convinced those first one or two departments. We also, of course, like you mentioned, there's a lot of data out there, we have some awesome partner communities as well, to show what some of the more mature organizations that have been out there for years and years, more than we have, what they've been able to do with partnerships. So while we don't have the same amount of time, or we didn't have enough data ourselves, we knew it was possible. So we talked about it a little bit before will but I always found it very interesting to kind of pick out some individual champion reps, you know, in the different departments, and kind of spotlight them even in the most minor fashions, and kind of make a FOMO sense to every other app that they are working with. So if we took an SDR, for example, and he's using reveal or crossbeam, to mention partners in his outreach, and he sees an uptick in the meetings being held or accepted. Yeah, I'm gonna give them kudos, I'm going to highlight that their manager supported it, and show it to the wider organization that, you know, while this might be early days, there's something here. And there's clearly some success from it. If you'd like to do the same, you know, come reach out to me or go speak to the SDR because there's something working here. And I would do the same with an AE. Yeah, that's just on the sales side, I think we've also seen some success of showing that champion lights to CSMs. And AMC make referrals to partners, which of course, help the health of their account and the retention rates, but also get some additional kickback for the business. And it's even more exciting when you get a CSM and am enjoying the cross functionally logic of a greater likelihood that introductions will come back to their sales department if we give introductions to our partners. So that early champions spotlight is a lot of fun. It's quite exciting.

Ben Wright  07:49

You've obviously built up this, this good faith towards partners across departments, which is phenomenal. There my experience a large part of that also comes from like the senior management management level, right to be advocates, and to actually encourage them to do those things. And so are you able to tell us a little bit around your process of influencing, you know, the C suite, and people that manage those teams to actually also come on board and and really start to put partners first?

Maurits Pieper  08:17

Absolutely, from the marketing side, especially in today's environment. But also, of course of last year, they clearly saw that, if we were trying to expand a Danish brand into their Europe as well as North America to kind of jump on and use the brand equity of more established partners in those regions was a no brainer, you can add on top that you share the budget. And, you know, expand the potential pool of leads, or prospects. In many ways, it's a no brainer. So that was kind of like a win that I got with the C suite from the marketing side of things. And it went similar fashion for the kind of CRO and sales leaders showing that some of their individual reps, were picking up on some fantastic traction, using partnerships as a strategy or tool. I did have the benefit. And you could imagine that not every company might have this. But I knew that when I joined the company that the CEO and the CEO at the time, they understood the potential of partnerships, and also the investors that we have also have experienced with partner led growth. So it is a side benefits. But there's a lot of tactile moves you got to do to convince those others.

Ben Wright  09:35

It's phenomenal when you already have an executive team that buying because I think a lot of partner, people start off with the uphill task of trying to convince people why it matters. And so if you have that layer, it's it's phenomenal. I think the second question I had which is around more of the more of the tactical for the SDRs for example, like how to use crossbeam how to figure out the data and so from your position where you involved in a lot of like the training and explaining each of those departments around how they could use that data. Talk to us a little bit around that process?

Maurits Pieper  10:09

Absolutely. I'll use crossbeam as an example. So, you know, I don't blend it too much. But we know the crossbeam awesome tool, they have a Chrome extension, they are able to surface data in in Salesforce as well, they can generate reports. So when I start filing started finding some of those champion STRS, I started to work with him specifically and understand how can we get him the best setup possible to achieve the most optimal success just for him. And, you know, he would just build reports of all of his prospects and map it to the customers of our partners, we would work together to understand what is the best joint value wording and sequencing that he can use, and use that in his LinkedIn in his calls in his emails, and make sure that he's also logging, which meetings are held, or sorry, booked, and through kind of partner mentioned and which ones not. So he can also do a little bit of comparison. And the moment I did that, with just one or two reps, I will do a further enablement to the wider SDR group was, of course, the approval of the SDR leadership to kind of show screenshots and wording and kind of tactics to investigate. You know, what new angles can you take when you're trying to personalize your outreach, and just get those few percentages higher of a meeting held likelihood?

Will Taylor  11:35

That's awesome. So one thing I wanted to pick out there was you were showing the real examples from the single individual. And what I think a lot of partner pros try and do is they try and do you know, the whole team, they'll do a session with the whole team, and then they're going to be like, okay, great, now they're going to go engage with partners, when in reality, you know, the sellers, they're not used to this motion, it's in our brand new motion. And when they're looking for these new ways to reach the prospects, and the raising their hand to say, you know, hey, I'll engage with partners. And you give them that enablement, like you mentioned, you only focused on enabling that one, set it up for the perfect scenario for them, where they have the tools necessary, they have the reporting necessary. And then I imagine you also helped with the messaging or the partner helped with the messaging. And I think that's a really good point. Because if we think of kind of the, the me going to my departments and saying, Hey, okay, now go do it, you should be convinced on partners from this one session, that is not going to truly help someone like, honestly, that doesn't enable someone to take action, it gives them some information. But what you did is, again, a complete opposite. And contrast to that where you sat with them, you know, you help them set up the tools, you perhaps set up the reporting with them. And it really showed them the path to that success. Because they, when they consume information from just a general meeting, and they don't really know how it applies to them, they're going to wait for their manager to tell them this, or they're going to, you know, go back to what they know, because that is exactly how they get to that number. And that's what they know of how to get to that number. So I love that you focus on the specific

Ben Wright  13:23

splitting stuff down into manageable chunks. I think as partnership leaders, we go in, and we're like, we need to convince everybody in the sales team that partners are the way forward and everybody in the SDR team. And I think by actually finding those champions focusing on one person building up the success and the use case, it becomes a hell of a lot easier to then go into the SDR meeting and be like, Look what Gary's done, you know, like, look at all the success Gary's had and like, all the all the value and all the benefit that he's generated. And so I think for me, that's one takeaway that everybody should take is like, I know, eventually, the end goal should be to convince everybody in your revenue generating teams that partnerships are the way forward. But actually doing that, initially, with no evidence to back it up is exceptionally hard, I would say. And so I really like what Moritz did there in terms of like the let's pick a singular person, build up the evidence, and then and then go back. So I thought I'd just chime in and add that. So I thought that was that was a really good, good strategy.

Maurits Pieper  14:19

And you know, just to add on top of that, you know, it's a new business for me as well, like I was joining diksa. So I'm learning as we go along. So I want to make sure that I really test it out with vigor on one rep. Make sure we kind of make it as good as possible before we do further enablement to the to the rest of the reps. You know, I'm learning with that STR two of how to outreach Dixit alone. So it's a learning process. I'm not just teaching I'm definitely learning with it.

Will Taylor  14:49

That's a great point. And whenever people have approached me for advice, you know, the first 90 days as a as a partner person, I always say you should build these internal relationships, not Just for future benefit and like a political sense of you can then influence them. But you learn so much by engaging with them. And like you said, you got to learn so much by working so closely with the SDR and what's working what's not. And so I'd love to learn about the direct impact that let's say this SDR, let's use them as an example. What was the impact of them engaging with partners? And what are the data points that you then brought to the rest of the team? I want to get specific here of like, was it higher response rate? Was it you know, bigger deals? What was the SDR having as an impact in engaging?

Maurits Pieper  15:41

Absolutely. One side benefit is he's he's he's always asking me in a joking way. When is the next partner going to be added on to crossbeam? Right. So as a as a side benefit, he's just hungry and curious to see who who's up next. And who can he kind of utilize for his for his outreach strategy, which is fun. In terms of, you know, specifics, he was definitely able to report that the end of quarters that he had X amount of meetings being held. And, you know, more than half of those, I think it was like 50 55%. This was a Nordic SDR, were by mentioning, hi, you know, of course, an x, we noticed that you're a customer of our partner, the great partner of ours, this is our joint value, or integration, you know, maybe this is worthwhile to have a conversation, something, of course, I'm simplifying. And when we are able to show you that much of a percentage difference, that's, of course, something that we showcase to the STRS. And, of course, to the other reps. But what I actually found, and this was new to me, as well as it, when you started off with the STRS. His AES that he of course, was paired with that, you know, moved on in the sales cycle, you typically saw that there was an increased likelihood that that partner may get involved in the deal in providing Intel or CO selling are kind of giving their thumb of approval by so by starting at the top funnel of using it in an outreach and already mentioning it there. Naturally, you're going to have it as part of your conversation when you jump on that first and second discovery call. So we also started to see that his AES that he was working with, and Nordics started getting comfortable, co selling and learning about our partners far quicker than the other AES. Which again, was probably one of those first, or second AES that I did that champions spotlight in on.

Ben Wright  17:42

Yeah, and it's, it's so interesting, because like, you think, because as an SDR, they're always told, Hey, personalize outreach, right? Like make make outreach personalized. And you've basically given him away to make every single outreach message that he sends personalized, because you have the data around solutions that they already use. And so I think even if you take that as a microcosm, and like even the response rate was comparable, let's say, you're still making his life a hell of a lot easier by giving him relevant, actionable data that he can put into his into his outreach. And so I always think about, like, how can you benefit the person but also, you know, partnerships in general. And I think what you've done there is not only given him a really easy way of personalized messaging, but again, to your point, then made those conversations a lot more kind of specific, based on based on that data as well.

Maurits Pieper  18:33

Yeah, absolutely.

Will Taylor  18:35

So now, I'm curious about the challenges that you're facing today. So you've gotten to the point where you know, everyone's climbing over each other to, you know, work with partners, and it's kind of going up the chain just naturally and organically with this SDR account executive motion. And so what are the challenges that you're facing today? What's the next phase after all of this buy in is gathered.

Maurits Pieper  18:58

So it might be a bit specific with Excel, but I'm sure there's gonna be some takeaways here is, over the last maybe two, two and a half years, we acquired three of our partners, the most recent ones were in March of last year was a kind of a chatbot. And the other one was a QA analytics tool. And so the first challenge was larger than it still is, but less was of course, finding that appropriate balance of selling our own products versus partners. You know, it's been a year and we've naturally started to see where our products fit well, and where our partners are actually better positioned. And of course, always putting the customer needs first. So the the second challenge was, how do you provide partner support to the different reps across different regions that have of course, varying levels of experience, and of course, are also ramping up in what I mean by that is, it takes months already for a sales rep to get ramped up on like just your core product, they spent so many working hours to be a successful seller on that one product, then you add on top, your two or three products that you've acquired, they got to learn those two. And we're not even touching the partner ecosystem, which happens to include potential competitors, to those tools that you acquire. So it could actually be just a bit much all at once, if you come in with the partner tool set to quickly to a lesser experienced, newer rep that has already so many products to learn on.

Ben Wright  20:32

I'd be interested to get your opinion on this, because it's something I've been thinking about a lot as we start to see this growth of partner ecosystems and, and partner programs in general, there's a very defined role in sales, which is a sales enablement manager, right, which is, let's get the sellers up to speed efficient as quickly as possible. And so in my mind, there is definitely a role which I think will come out of this, which is partner enablement, right, which is to your point, like, how do I get people up to speed on partner solutions, explained to them how to position those solutions and stuff like that. And so, I wonder if you've got any opinions on on that type of role, or whether you're kind of exploring, I guess, something similar at Dick's had to deal with that issue of like, okay, now I need people to know 10 different solutions, one really well, but then another nine kind of well, so they're able to position my any any thoughts around that

Maurits Pieper  21:25

100%. I'd love to have a partner enablement person yesterday. But I work with the marketing team, the sales leaders, the SDR leaders, I had a call today great call with our head of account management, you know, what we decided to do while there's an expanding ecosystem here at diksa, let's just focus on two or three per region, and nail down really what that joint value is, and drive momentum with a select few. So that we don't bombard or our colleagues and team members with too many different products, and get them comfortable with just not just learning one or two of our partner products, but then also, you know, potentially collaborating with them. So from an enablement perspective, what I definitely saw success in here at diksa was trying to pair individual reps with partners, maybe their counterparts, just learn another, another business, another partner, and take it slow, those those many wins are very important. When you're trying to make partnerships as a mindset as scalable as possible.

Will Taylor  22:34

I feel like the theme has already kind of been talked about, even in what you just said, but all throughout the episode. But what would be your tactical takeaway for anyone who is, you know, facing similar challenges or working on the program today? What would you say as the number one tactical tip that you would give them? Yeah,

Maurits Pieper  22:54

I don't know if it's cliche, or if this is something that's already been kind of throwing around. But, you know, considering the current economic environment, you know, so many businesses are being pushed to be as cost efficient as possible. So, you know, here are diksa modeled a budget to expand the partners team until maybe later in the year or next year. But we of course, want to continue generating a serious impact from reoccurring revenue, marketing, revenue, new revenue perspective. So the takeaway would probably be, don't look at partnerships as as a department, it's, it's honestly, it's a tool set. It's a mindset, it's a strategy for departments to take, take advantage of. So what I'm doing here is, is trying to make many partner people within different departments, get them comfortable with using it as a tool to put into their arsenal, so that they can hit their KPIs quicker, better, greater, you name it, so that I don't act as a bottleneck, people get comfortable with it. And they can just kind of scale naturally as people learn from one another.

Will Taylor  24:01

Amazing and like we talked about, start small focus on you know, one person, make them super successful, use them as the story to then help others be successful. And like you said, as well at the end, where you're trying to get more engagement with partners, pair them up one to one, every salesperson doesn't need to learn about every single partner they can work with, you know, one, two, maybe three, have some general knowledge about the others, but when it comes to the actual cosell motion and CO marketing process, pairing them up, I think is ideal. So that's amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that. I feel like we could talk for a while on this because there's there's so much here but yeah, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Maurits Pieper  24:46

bidwill Thank you very much for having me. It's been great chatting. Awesome.

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