Howdy Partners Episode #35: Productive Partner Recruitment with Bart Van Zantvoort

Bart van Zantvoort, Business Development Manager at Channext, joins the show today to talk productive partner recruitment. Channext helps you run and track partner enablement, marketing, and sales.

Bart shares strategies for marketing with your partners on LinkedIn and activating partnerships successfully.

Subscribe & Listen On:

Full Transcript:

Will Taylor  0:03  

Howdy partners, and welcome to another episode of The howdy partners podcast, where we bring you actionable insights to the role of partnerships and how you can succeed in that role. Today, we are joined with Bart from chin X Bart, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Bart van Zantvoort  0:22  

So yeah, my name is Bart van Zantvoort. I've been in been in partnerships in Channel Four, Euro five now, for more from the Netherlands, working at Gen X, and actually didn't start in a really in general, I started in customer success. But then I worked my way up to Christmas success in channel, which is actually pretty nice, because then you get to talk with all of the different parties involved. And the partners itself, distributors, vendors, all of the different partners, actually, which is pretty nice to actually get a little bit costumed in in channel. And since a year or so I think, doing doing Channel Sales. So it started really, really building a product, talking with a lot of partners and seeing where, or how we can actually make product as good as possible, really partner centric. And I think, since the year or two, we figured that we really accomplished that. So now trying to see how we can make sure to share this with as many partnerships people across the globe,

Will Taylor  1:25  

I love it and what I appreciate about your experiences, you come from, you know, helping people across the board, you know, multiple accounts in the channel, and then you're getting into selling it what a lot of companies struggle with is they don't have any subject matter expert expertise, because, you know, they're selling, you know, a healthcare software, but they're, you know, a tech salesperson. And so there's this disconnect of context and expertise for that. And so I like that you've already worked with multiple accounts, you already immersed in this space, and then you're stepping into the sales position. So I think that is very good. And I think you're going to be in a good position to develop that trust as you're going through the sales process. So my first question for you is because you're in this unique position, and you are also sell to partner and channel, folks, what are some of the common pain points that you hear about from these partner managers or channel managers? What is the, the, you know, top of mind challenge that people are facing?

Bart van Zantvoort  2:33  

Yeah, it's, it's, and I think that's an interesting one. It all depends, I think, on the the maturity of, of a vendor, and also the maturity of its channel, right? So for us and Gen X, we actually distinguish them in I think, two separate fears. One is the the channel teams that are actually just starting up the channel. So maybe don't even have a partner program yet. They're trying to figure out how to actually start a program how to start a channel, because everyone sees that working with partners is a great way to to scale. And a lot of times they're venture backed, right. So I think the the biggest pain points are the biggest challenge Darius, how can I set something set a real good foundation, but still makes sure that I can skill really fast, so I can set something up, but at the same time grow really fast, which is extremely difficult. And then you have the more mature vendors. So the vendors that have been there for for a while, 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, they already have a channel, they have hundreds or 1000s of partners. Man, I think the the biggest challenge there is how can I make sure that I activates all of these partners that are really engaged with all of these partners? So I'm not sure if you guys are probably you are you're familiar with the the 8020 rule of gull Coleman, where he automates is outreach to 80% of his prospects. And 20% is the what he calls above the line. And where he actually personalized. I think in general, we have more or less the same. So you have the 8020 rule as well. 20% of your revenue comes from 80% of your partners and 80% comes from the 20% focus partners. And I think the biggest challenge Darius, we all know that 20% We have the managed the Manage channel team that actually makes sure that there's a lot of one on one contact. There are tailor made campaigns, everything's done to make sure that the spotters are happy, and that these partners are as active as possible. But how do we set up a system that that actually makes sure that you get the most value to and the most value from all of your partners also from the 80% I think that's done through software, but that's the biggest challenge.

Ben Wright  4:50  

Yeah, and it's always one that you hear and it's kind of synonymous with channel programs, which is that that 8020 piece in it. Hands for I don't know how to describe it, it kind of frustrates me a little bit to Eric Right, because candidly like, in my opinion, when you recruit upon, that should be a thought in the back of your mind that they are going to be a revenue producing partner, right? Like you shouldn't go into a relationship thinking, oh, you know, who cares? Like, they'll just join this long list? And we'll kind of figure out, what do you think are the key reasons that that that 8020 rule exists? Is it like poor partner recruitment? Is it Poor partner management? Like? Are there any kind of core factors that you look to? As to why the 8020 rule is so synonymous with kind of channel partner programs? Yeah, so

Bart van Zantvoort  5:35  

first of all, I completely shared his frustration with you, basically, because since I really come from talking with a lot of partners, I think I've had 1000s of chats with with with different partners small to big. So I completely agree where you're coming from. I think it's, it's a combination of the things that you just, you just said. So it's, it's not really for pod recruitment, it's maybe just making sure you're basically saying it's all open so everyone can join. We're not really looking what kind of partners and after all, you see that if you didn't read the segment and read it, your research of what is what is my ideal Bagram profile? What was my IPP there, you see that some partners are not maybe the right fit, so they churn, maybe they're not right and trained in the right way. So they churn. And I think the biggest problem that I see is that vendors spent too much time on partner recruit, and little time on the steps that are falling off the button recruitment. So you have bought the recruitments, before you should have the right research, right. And then you have training, the UF go marketing, the UFO selling, and you have to make sure that you go as fast as possible to what we call self sustainable partner revenue. And partners churn along every step, because vendors tend to focus too much on partner recruitment. And too little, I think, on actually managing the relationships.

Will Taylor  7:03  

Yeah, that's interesting. And I've seen programs and dove deep into programs that are they over indexed on that recruitment, and then they were like, oh, no, we got, you know, 140 partners, and nobody is taking action, except for, you know, these 10. So it wasn't even like a 20% thing. And then that's when they go, oh, yeah, we actually need to properly enable them and not just get them into this funnel. And so I'm wondering, what are our thoughts on this idea of, oh, we just need volume to get us revenue? Do we think that a lot of these programs focus too much on, we are going to use this as, you know, a purely revenue driving function versus let's say, if we're getting partners more involved, and, you know, maybe 7030 split, but we're getting, you know, higher retention rates or more adoption of integrations, do we think it's maybe an overemphasis traditionally on, I just need this revenue? So I'm going to go volume? And you know, that's what we know. Because I feel like that's a bit of a traditional mindset that a lot of programs may be stuck in.

Ben Wright  8:18  

Is it a really good point. And I kind of want to separate out into two buckets, I think we always talk about kind of on this podcast in general. And then general on ships is all about how you communicate value, right? And so I'll listen to I'm trying to think in my bit of work span webinar thing the other day where they were talking about how value for EY. And that partnership program is not just revenue value now, but they view they do value as like the data that you get from partners, like the additional market exposure. And so they've actually quantified the value they get from partners away from just pure revenue, actually, into this formula, which now looks at like, Oh, we're getting like additional data of our customer set, which we can use to develop a new so they started to think about things really intelligently. And to your point, I will I think it's spot on like you until we get to stage and partnerships where you can quantify right like because of integrations, all customers are, it's more likely to stay and you start to build up that Bank of data. Unfortunately, when you first start a program, especially in when you've got a CRO and a CEO that doesn't necessarily understand partnerships, revenue is going to be the only driving metric. But I would agree with you in the way that like, until we start thinking more broadly, and we start to quantify value outside of revenue that's kind of always going to exist. That's I guess, that's my kind of opinion and thought on that.

Bart van Zantvoort  9:41  

I think it's also because a lot of vendors, they create this partner program, which is really vendor centric, right? It's not partner centric to really think okay, how can I maximize value from my channel instead of thinking how can I make maximize value for my partners, and make sure that they grow as efficiently as well? possible, because what we always say is partner success is your success, right? If all your partners are really successful, you get to be successful as well. So if you put a lot of focus and effort into making sure that well, let's say to grow Spark, or if your channel is successful, you will see the results as well. But yeah, I think you're right been traditionally seen, and the focus is always going to be on the biggest success and false revenue. And unfortunately, probably, that's not something that's gonna go away for a short while.

Will Taylor  10:31  

And as we know that your vocal and the 10x team is vocal about PRM, and how you think they are, you know, maybe obsolete. And we even did you know, the death of portals with the partner Acker team last year. And so, tell us more about that, do you think that plays into it into that entire, you know, vendor centric focus and like the incentives and just the way that enablement and communication is done? What are your thoughts around that, where, you know, maybe there was this over emphasis on, oh, this traditional channel world, you know, Microsoft, they could get people to sell for them. So it's, you know, more vendor focused, where it's focused on Microsoft, but that may have read different technologies and different mindsets that have led us to this 8020. But what are your thoughts and you know, how technology that's available today might play a role in that, you know, overemphasis on the vendors, vendor centric side of things. Yeah. So

Bart van Zantvoort  11:33  

I think this, this, this ties have a really nicely on what we just discussed, the fact that it's also vendor centric, and the fact that let me just start from myself enough for the company. But the fact that I have such a strong opinion on portals, is that most of these borders are really built on, how can we make sure that the things that the vendor wants gets done, right, it's not about it's not really about the partners. And now you got to think about this partner doesn't have one portal partner has five or they have 10, or they have 20 different portals or the bigger ones, even a 50 plus. And if we look at the basis of the portal, the portal is designed because offender feeds hey, I want my partners to participate in my marketing and sales activities. I want them to do the deal registration portal, they can request MDF, their mark developments firms. But if a partner has to do this in 20, different portals, it doesn't matter how good or quality your content is, your campaigns are, your new product introduction is going to be if your partners don't use this, it's it's a waste of time, and it's a waste of money. And basically, this is the reason that I'm so vocal about about portals. I don't really see the use nowadays anymore, because the data is just clear, apart from the registration, because it's mandatory partners don't use orals. So why do we keep investing time and money in portals, I don't know.

Ben Wright  12:57  

You've got to get in the shoes of your partner's sales team and realize that actually, they've got a job to do, which is selling their own product. And then obviously, you're kind of a secondary or tertiary kind of value add to them. And so making them context which which is you're not delivering this information inside the tools that they use on a day to day basis, Slack, even email, right to some extent, you're actually making them go to a separate, separate URL, separate poll, separate login, like all these things are just barriers to adoption, because you're making them do all these separate activities to actually get to a stage of hey, like registering a deal. And so for me, that's always been, in my opinion, the biggest blocker for, you know, the traditional PRN solutions, because until you put it in their workflow and make it very easy for them to get in and access these resources. I kind of feel like there's just so many barriers in front of sales reps, plus the fact that it's not their priority, there's just all these factors that a kind of really speaking to low adoption, in my opinion, so that that's kind of my overarching opinion, I guess, on parents as the standard it.

Will Taylor  14:02  

I like it. So what is unique about the technology that's out there today, you know, whether it's chinext, or whether it's this like shift in maybe mindset, or this evolution, to focus, perhaps less on the vendor and more on, you know, partner engagement, what are some of those, like key focuses that make these other offerings or these new offerings, unique in what they're solving for?

Bart van Zantvoort  14:30  

Yeah, so I love I love New tooling and mechanisms out there that that we focus on the partner that really have given it some thought, and are really thinking how can I make sure that these partners can can use this as as well as possible? So for instance, Ben, you you just made a really good point that boards need to go to all of these different places where they usually do not come while partners just want to focus on what's most important right for them and for their vendor. And that's closing In deals, and just doing business. So what I think is really special about tools that you see coming more and more are really the marketplace tools. So the tools that give partners one central place, just to log in, to do all of the different activities that they have to do. For instance, you have a lot of new tools out there that actually make sure that as a partner, you can reach in vendors, and vendors, you can reach all these kinds of different new partners go into partnerships, really new tools that facilitate these, these, these these new kinds of partnerships and deals. And we are going through a place close to my heart, talking about Gen X, the I think the thing that's so special about the Gen X platform is that it's also just one central place for partners to do all of their vendor related activities. So do registration for all of their vendors. They can request MDF for all of their vendors, all of the marketing and sales activities are in one place and can even be automated, which as a result actually shows that we have 93% campaign participation with around 10 to 15% as a benchmark standard for PRM systems. So really giving partners a way of really making their lives easier, so to say. So give them software to automate and make easier all of the, let's say the administrative tasks so they can focus on what they really want to focus on. And that's just doing business and talking with her and customers.

Ben Wright  16:28  

I've kind of followed Gen X and the platform that you guys have built in. And I think one of the cool things that I'd love for you to kind of speak on a little bit by is the fact that you can launch partner marketing campaigns from inside the platform and tie that to social as long as I think like one of the one of the pieces that I love about the chat next platform is we're not just thinking about tired on marketing campaigns, which is like emails or webinars necessarily, but you're also bringing in that social aspect, which, as mean, will the big advocates of like the whole social sell and you know, thought leadership piece? Which, which you've kind of incorporated? Could you kind of talk about that and why you think like the social pieces is so impactful for the platform?

Bart van Zantvoort  17:10  

Yeah, definitely. So I think where we started out was actually making sure that we have a way for vendors to automatically cascade their marketing campaigns through all of the channels of their partners. So I think traditionally, email campaigns was a big thing blasting emails to all of your partners and their end customers, we started out just by placing widgets on the websites a full partner. So when you actually come up with a new campaign or product introduction, you can launch it on launch day to 500 different partners without them actually having to go to your portal. But what we saw was that partners actually wanted something more and also ways to activate their their end customers in their own channels that we're using. So I'm also a big fan of dark social. And that's why we decided to also add social media in this in this whole system is all process. So what we basically do is we make API connections with all of the social media channels of all different partners. And so let's say that all of the business platforms, so the company pages are for partners with especially the individual, individual portals or platforms of the sales teams. So we can make sure that if you connect the partner to you, as a vendor, their entire sales team is also connected

Ben Wright  18:33  

to we talked about last week, when we talked about last week, well like the value of two partner marketing, doing like a scalable newsletter that you send out to a partner sales team. But one of the biggest difficulties of that is actually getting their contact information from your partner, Andrew, a lot of times, like sometimes it's a weird conversation to have to say, Hey, can you give us 100 sales or it sounds like you've kind of figured that out by using LinkedIn and then cascading it via social platforms, which is actually kind of a cool way. Because again, actually, I pay more attention to my LinkedIn messages. When I do my email, sometimes I just get so much in prep my email, everybody a chat next is really lent into LinkedIn, just broadly as a company. And so I see you post and a lot, Rick, Alex, like the whole of your team. And so I guess that'd be an initial or kind of final point to talk about is why have you kind of gone all in on LinkedIn from a from a kind of sales tactic perspective? Because again, you're some department I'm just there must be a link there. Like, is it because there's so many partner folks on LinkedIn and ash target audience, maybe kind of give us some insight there as to why you've gone all in on on LinkedIn?

Bart van Zantvoort  19:36  

Yeah, yeah, definitely. So I think it started out when we just saw the entire team offering sales loft or gone, posting just a ton of different balls on LinkedIn. And it didn't matter where you ended up. You saw them everywhere. And that's when we sat down with the team and had a chat and felt like isn't this something that we have to do as well? So we started talking to different let's say seal or social leaders. out there on LinkedIn, and really got to know the dark social and just figure to ourselves, let's just try this ourselves as well, and start posting and trying to really educate the market. Well, the funny thing, and the good thing for us is partnerships, people are very much aware of LinkedIn, and they're very much present on LinkedIn. So this was a very good thing for us. And since we started doing that, even though we're not even that big yet in my eyes, and in my opinion, in every conversation that I have, I hear everyone's saying, I have seen you guys on LinkedIn already, I've seen your posts. So I already know where you guys are coming from. And my point being is, wherever you are, and how small you still are, it doesn't really matter, stop posting on LinkedIn. Because this is also I met both of you guys. And it's how I met so many other people. And content creation is just so good for a network, it's good for your business. And it's good for everything. So that's why we started and we're really reaping results right now.

Will Taylor  21:03  

I love that and the sentiment that I really liked from that before I you know, Brant, which I won't, because I love this topic, but it's like, you show up and then people know who you are. And there's this certain level of trust and familiarity. And so that warms up the conversation so quickly. And so whether in sales or partnerships, like if you're trying to open doors, this is a really good way to do it. Especially if you're targeting you know, your activity towards your either buying persona or, you know, partners that could then introduce you to their clients as well. So I love it. So we always leave a tactical tip for our audience. So in the next two minutes or so, what is let's say I'm a partner manager, and I'm either in a small org or a big org, and I'm coming to you, and I'm like, I'm hitting the 8020. wall wall. What should I do? What's your tactical takeaway for our audience to maybe make it 7921? And get partners a bit more engaged?

Bart van Zantvoort  22:07  

Yeah. Yeah, flat that started to flatten the Brento. curve. So let's, let's make it 6040. If you're if you really want to want to make a change? Well, what I think is what a lot of I think is especially in there, let's let's keep it at the bigger companies with a lot of the general teams do is they look at the 20%. And sometimes they neglect the 80%. Right. So look at different systems. And and now I'm not going to be saying that Gen X is the only one but look at different systems. And where you can actually create a foundation for all partners to maximize the value that they actually get out of working together with you. So what I would say is automates your 80%, automate certain activities, 48% marketing activities, sales activities, so that you actually enable your partners to grow, and then maybe find a spot somewhere in the 20%. So that 20% goes to 25 to 30, maybe even 35 Eventually, and just give all parties a chance because you didn't go into the partnership financing. I love it,

Will Taylor  23:05

build or implement those systems to engage the 80% automation is not a bad thing. So if it engages them and you get you know, 5% additionally activated, that's probably well worth it and of course getting closer to that 6040 that we definitely want to see. Thanks everyone. Just be very much

You've successfully subscribed to PartnerHacker
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Error! Could not sign up. invalid link.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Error! Could not sign in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.