This episode primes everyone for the PLX Summit which explores how every department needs to take on a partnerships mindset - and the results they'll see when they do.
3 Key Takeaways
- Partnerships has the goal of helping every part of your organization, not just one department or silo.
Partnerships is unique in that it has the ability to make an organization better at every level – founders, product, marketing, sales, and success.
- Build, buy, or partner
Increasingly, the partner option is becoming more favorable because you get to offer very niche solutions with it.
- People aren't getting the same results they used to
The value of partnerships to marketing and sales teams is unparalleled as old tactics are starting to become less effective. Partnerships give you higher leads, shorter sales cycles, and quicker win rates.
Subscribe & Listen On:
Will Taylor 00:20
Howdy partners, and welcome to another episode and this episode is going to be a special one, there is something going on in the market recently that we need to talk about. And there is, of course, a solution to that which we will talk about here today. But Ben, how are you doing, mate? I'm doing all right. Yeah, it's been a, it's been a little bit of time since I, since I recorded one of these has been been busy on my end. So happy to be happy to be back happy to be on the podcast. I'm recording this from Empire con and Salt Lake City where there's a lot of knowledge being shared about partnerships and the future of partnerships and all the good things that I know you and me believe in and actually a component of which I think we're going to talk about right now. So that's where I am. How are you doing? Doing good. It's snowed here. So I'm trying to leave. That's why I look. For those of you who are watching this. I have a nice for ecodan. But I'm good. Everything is moving it. There's so much momentum and relevant to what we're going to talk about today. But, Ben, I want to hear what your thoughts are on the current economic climate and why partnerships relates to the economic climate. Talk to us about what's going on around in the business world? Yeah, I think there's a, there's a couple of factors. I mean, we keep hearing the word recession, I think we're finally in one are going to be in one for a little bit here. And I think what that means for businesses as a whole is
Ben Wright 01:52
getting leaner, getting more focused, finding other ways and your traditional go to market. And, and I think a byproduct of that is partnerships, there's there's probably no other role in an organization where you can have minimal headcount and achieve as much results or as much value, let's say, I think the other piece that's happening is actually more from a go to market perspective around like traditional marketing methods, be it like paid advertising via, you know, cold outreach, direct outreach, however you referred to it from the advertising side, people aren't getting the same return on investment as they used to be from a marketing perspective. So I think that's that's difficult, like how do you get as many leads in as you as you used to be able to, in addition to like, the changes that have happened to cold emailing and cold outbound, like, everybody's doing it, and everybody's doing it? Okay, now, I would say so, being able to differentiate and actually get in front of prospects from a cold email perspective is going away. I think that coupled with the recession leads to partnerships becoming more and more of a focus and should be more of a focus for organization so Amis broad commentary from my own and I don't know, if you have any kind of further comments on on why like macroeconomic key partnerships becoming more relevant. Yeah, I would say it's a perfect storm, both in a good way, in a bad way. Obviously, we don't want a recession, but it is proving to be a forcing function for businesses to adapt. And, you know, it used to be where you can just like you said, buy all of the lists and send all of the cold emails and burn all the domains and buy all the ads, and then you'll get in front of your buyers, but one with a changing buying force and two with the recession, that is forcing businesses to look at, okay, well, how do buyers actually want to engage? And what are the other ways that we can get in front of those buyers, with the way that they want to engage without having to burn all of that cash. And I made a post today, actually, where I was talking about how SAS has just like, burned through so much cash that the venture capitalists had. And the venture capitalists at the time were okay with it, because they would see that hyper growth over the, you know, shorter amount of time. But it was a churn and burn mentality, it didn't force companies to look at, okay, well, how can we grow sustainably? How can we grow in a way that sets up sets us up for success in the future, versus, you know, just in the short term to get those short term gains? And so, although the entire market like no one's at fault, obviously, you know, everyone is saying, Yes, this is the way you should do it. But I feel like that has dug us into a hole. But I don't think that hole is too deep to get out of because we have some solutions, and we have some of that positive sentiment moving forward. Which, of course, we're talking about a little bit here. And then, you know, the folks that partner hacker everyone on LinkedIn in the partnership space as well talking about why is this strategy better? So before we dive into some of the other
Will Taylor 05:00
specifics. Ben, I'm curious about what your take is on why the partnerships strategy as an entire company is better than perhaps the traditional GTM. It could even just be, you know, the overall sentiment of it. But what what's your take in terms of why it's a better strategy? So, so I think,
Ben Wright 05:23
and we'll, we're going to get into this, like, why partnership should matter to every part of the organization, I think we'll go for it quite sequentially. But in general, Partnerships has the partnership has, has the real, I guess, goal or, or benefit of helping every single part of your organization, which I would argue is rare, I think there's businesses still operate unfortunately, in silos, even though everybody wants to work together. And you're trying to achieve that mutual goal be at revenue goal, or whatever your kind of metric, but Partnerships has the value to offer to customer success to product to marketing to sales, and can positively impact OKRs across the organization, if you if you have that, that together store and everybody buys in. So that's kind of what I would just say is why people should care is because partnerships does have the ability to impact or add positive positively impact every, every part of an organization and help you that those goals.
Will Taylor 06:27
Yeah, and I would say the extended effect of that is even more success and value for the client. You know, the more partners you involve, the more that the client is getting more of a holistic solution. And of course, you know, as these individual departments are benefited through partnerships, then they're better. They're better operating to deliver the primary success that each department is meant to deliver. And so this, of course, leads us into those different departments. So let's start talking about how each of these business units can benefit from partnerships. And this all rolls up into the PL X event. So if you haven't signed up for it yet, the pls summit at pls summit.com, you can sign up whether you are in partnerships. And if you're listening to this, you're probably in partnerships. So go and tell your sales team, your marketing team, your success team, whoever they are, to sign up because it will have information relevant to them. But let's start with founders. Ben, if you're starting a company today, why would it be more important than ever to focus on network effects and partnerships to grow? Tying in some of the things that we've talked about? How would you approach that? And what are the some of the important things that a founder should think about?
Ben Wright 07:41
I think you I think you just tell him the word that I would use it which is which is network effect like you always go back to how would you drive the most impact with the little the least investment and if you're a founder like chances are you've you've built a small team or resources are slim. So let's just say you know, you are a sales tech tool, right, let's just say you operate in the sales space, you've got a new company, this new great sales tool. If you're able to land a couple of like high sales consultant types, who then have big audiences, big customer bases, really all you've had to do is have one conversation, start one relationship. But then on the other side of that there are more established company with, you know, potentially more sales reps, more customers. And what it enables you to do is actually only invest to a small part of your time and resources, but then have the benefit of that network effect spreading through their entire customer base as well. So I guess that's why for founder's partnerships can be such a great strategy is because it enables you to put a few eggs in a basket, let's say you know all your eggs, but a few eggs in a basket, and then it multiply or triple, you know, and, and that's why for a founders perspective, I always look at, okay, if you're starting a company today, you need to start thinking about partnerships early on in your journey, because it does represent that that way to do a lot with a little I would say,
Will Taylor 09:06
Yeah, and I would also say just dovetailing off of that, it's like, if you think about the number of companies that existed, even, you know, 10 years ago, it was a much smaller amount than there are companies now. And even if you consider your niche, and like the sales tech space, you're competing against so many different technologies, more and more every single day. And so when it comes to the traditional methods, you're not getting those exponential gains. And so, like Ben, you mentioned, the efficiency of it is there but then also, the reduction in noise is there as well, where you're not getting lost in the noise because you know, as a founder, you're trying to navigate through everything, determine the strategy and so on. You yourself will get lost trying to figure it all out and so, yeah, to navigate it and to help your clients navigate it, not being just Another piece of noise in the already increasingly noisy market is extremely important. And so what about product? Why is product benefiting from partnerships today? Walk us through like, even how buyers engage and how the product partnerships angle can play a role in business success. What's your take?
Ben Wright 10:24
And this is a bit of a different one in terms of like, I think I'd say from the other side of things of like why partnerships are really important for the product. Sorry. So wait, why product is really important for partnerships. And what I mean by that is like, there's a statistic that people are making buying decisions purely based off the integrations that that tool has mean that okay, if I've got a suite of tools that I use day in, day out, if I'm looking for a martec tool, does it connect into these other tools that I use on a day in day out basis is just as important as features and functionality inside the tool. And so I think from a product perspective, it becomes like, hey, we need to focus on those core tools that our ICP use day in day out and ensure that we have integrations with those. So for example, HelpScout, right customer support software, we are probably further down the buying cycle or river than a CRM, right me and the people that come and buy Help Scout usually have a CRM already as part of their tech stack. So for us, it becomes like we need to have CRM integrations for them to then feel comfortable in connecting and HelpScout or buying HelpScout. Because if we don't, all that contextual information that is, is stored in a CRM doesn't get passed through and to help scale, they're set in disparate systems, and it creates issues for support agents. So that's what I would say is like, figure out your SAS buying journey, figure out where you sit on that buying journey. And everything that comes before you, which is still going to matter to the tool that you sell, let's make sure that you have integrations built out because it's going to influence an impact, not just buying decision, but also stickiness of the of the product as well.
Will Taylor 12:07
Yeah, and I would say that if they're our product leaders, it also helps with understanding the roadmap, because when we think of our tools that we have, there could be adjacent tools that already exist that we may not know about, or may not integrate with. And we may be incentivized to consider, do we build this? Or can we enhance something else about the product? Can we go a different route. And so when you start engaging more partners, it will actually give you a lot of context on what the market already has, and what the market needs. And so I would say that even the roadmapping aspect of building a product is benefited through partnerships, because, you know, you could be integrated with 10 Different CRMs. But you could find out, you know that there's this data reporting tool that that also connects into a CRM, but you can also connect your tool into and so why would you build out your own robust data reporting platform, on top of your own platform, it wouldn't make as much sense if you could integrate. And so the option isn't always just integrate everywhere all the time. It's the debate of, you know, build, buy, or, of course, partner. And I would say that, in today's world, with so many new tools coming out, the more niche you can be, from what I've seen, those companies are more successful, because the ones that try and do everything, they get lost in that noise that we were just talking about, you know, as a founder, your messaging then becomes, you know, you have to expand it. So it's not what your company is used to. And so that might even cause like, employee turnover. So there's all these implications of when you try and expand too far, you kind of cripple yourself by not being, you know, the number one in that specific niche, because there's going to be a sea of solutions there as well. So not to say that there's an I guess
Ben Wright 14:07
the final point, the final point, I would, I would kind of add, there is like, I also feel the partnership, folks can start really influencing product roadmap through the tooling that we've got now. So I think if you look at tools like Crosby, instead of making the decision like Hey, I think we should build an integration with freakin I don't know. Eric was one of our partners very blessed to say you've made the decision, you want to build an integration with our core. Instead of being based on like, sales sentiment, I like everybody asks us for this integration. So we should build it. Like, connect with our core, right? Connect with our cool and crossbeam actually figure out do we have customer overlap? Do we have prospects that are our core customers? And as you get definitive evidence and data that will help help you build the right integration. So I think it just it backs on to your point, Blake. Yeah, I think there's a role for partnerships and actually influencing and helping out product decisions as well.
Will Taylor 15:05
Yeah. So tell me about marketing. Why is CO marketing with partners inherently better than regular marketing? What is what's like, let's say one example or one outcome that you've seen or that you get excited about when thinking about CO marketing? What's that for
Ben Wright 15:23
you? So I think the marketing piece is kind of twofold. For me, I think I firstly will go back to where we started this podcast out from which is like, what are the changing? What are the things that are changing in the broader market that are kind of directly title correlate to partnerships. So I think if you look at marketing, people aren't getting the same results from their paid spend budget as they used to have. So I think there's additional pressure on marketing teams to deliver leads transparently. So for them, like you should really lean into your partners from from just a market share perspective, if that makes sense. Instead of going out and spending 100 grand on frickin ads, let's put that into partner marketing and see, and actually, I can guarantee the approach is going to get better results in this day and age. The second piece is, okay, like, when we look at target customer, how do we, how do we hit that network effect and actually touch as many people as possible. And again, it goes back to the fact of okay, HelpScout, partner with Eric, or, if we get it, right, from an enablement perspective, HelpScout also then gets promoted to all of our calls customers, right. And it produces like just these big network effects that you can touch more customers and easier. So I think from a marketing perspective, those are two things that I would point to as to why they should matter is like actually making a dollars column. And then secondarily, like expanding your target audience and being able to get in front of the right people. The other pieces, like, let's just say you've got a great content team, you're angry blog content, or whatever it might be. Only the people that are still reading that content are customers and people that find your page, if you're able to do a co marketing campaign, you're touching two sets of audiences, right, you're building that content for your audience, but then also your partner audience. So it, again amplifies the message that you're that you're putting out there from a from a marketing perspective. So that's kind of how I would bucket them is brand amplification. And then the second piece being like actually putting dollars that are going to have impact
Will Taylor 17:26
Yep, to audiences. And potentially half the cost is as well, because the responsibility is shared. So it's almost like double for half. That is very exciting. I would also add to that, and say, for every other party that is outside of your organization that you engage into your marketing programs, the more you are forced to focus on the actual genuine value for the client in their consumption of that media or that information. Because inherently, the other company, the partner, they will be not biased towards your solution. And they won't be inclined to talk about your solution, because what they talk about for, you know, eight hours of their day, in every single day that they're working is their own solution. And so it's kind of this diffusion of, hey, let's talk about what I know, which is my company. And so the more that you engage your partners, the more it has to focus on value. Because if everyone was talking as if it were their own webinar, or you know, their own marketing program, it would inherently become bias, because that is what's top of mind. And so even the simple language that they use, will be, again, more aligned to what the client will need in that interaction. So yeah, that's something that I've always thought about where it's like, why would you ever do marketing alone, because you can get more bang for your buck. And then also, you can create an environment that has even less bias and more value. So marketing is just Yeah, so I get so excited about it. So selling, why selling easier through partnerships? What's the the mechanism that's happening? In your mind, Ben about the cosell process? Walk me through your thoughts on CO selling?
Ben Wright 19:25
Yes, I think there's a there's a couple of ways that partnerships impact sales, I think you you go back to the most simplistic terms, which is like, Hey, you get leads delivered to you, right? If you do things, right, like you get you get leads delivered. But I would also say that the quality of leads that you get delivered is far higher, meaning that they've already had a conversation with a partner who they trust only, like they probably already bought a product from will Taylor, let's say, well, Taylor's then said Well, hey, I think you'd get a great solution out of the product, the battery cells and and that in itself is a double stamp of approval. All I like they've taken the time to console that person on why the solution is a good fit. And then they've also put their own stamp of approval, like they're a partner, I trust them their products great. So by the time it hits me, it's like, I have to do a lot less selling, right? I just have to convince them that, hey, yeah, this solution is what you need. But in the back of their mind, they're like, well, those already told me it's a great solution. So you're coming into it from a softer, like more receptive type of sales motion. And I would say there's a couple of things that come off the back of that short sales cycles. So there's not as much time spent convincing people because you've already done the convincing. And then secondarily, like the conversion rate goes through the roof. So pen and handwrite. Again, because you've got those seal of approval, sales cycle is quicker, and then actually the overall win rate is higher. So that's kind of what I would say firstly, the the other piece becomes like, okay, even if you haven't referred me the lead, and undelete has come through another type of final source, if I'm on a call with you. And again, it goes back to the whole piece of like why integrations matter. They also matter to the sales team. Because if you can present a solution that Oh, you already integrate with HubSpot on a sales call, or we integrate with HubSpot, which means this is why you're going to have a better experience with HelpScout, because of our HubSpot integration. So it lays in that product layer of the amount of integrations and the worthwhile and the valuable integrations you build. But from a salesperson perspective, when you're getting on that call, and you're having that conversation with the customer, being able to present that unified solution based on a tool they already use and explain why that's going to be of more benefit to them. Is is really powerful, and again, will result in you know, easy sales cycles, and just easier sales calls in general. So I think those would be some of my high level points on why partnership should matter to sales teams. I mean, ultimately, it comes down to like, Do you want more leads? And do you want leads that convert? Better? Every sales rep would say yes to both of those statements. So I can truly be the partnerships can can deliver those to sales teams.
Will Taylor 22:06
Yeah, and one analogy that I like to think of and describe the interaction is like, if I were to be introducing myself to you for the first time, and I start saying, Hey, this is why I'm so great. You should like me because of this, and we should go talk because you know I did ABC, that would probably look kind of weird and feel kind of weird for you to receive that. Because it's like, oh, this person is a narcissist. But if my friend was with me, and they were already friends with you, and I'm the stranger, and they're introducing me as Hey, Will's pretty awesome. Because he does, you know, ABC and you know, isn't this cool? He did this and like, this is what he loves, that's going to fall a lot more positively on the person that is being having the stranger be introduced to them, because they're gonna go, well, I already trust this person. And it's not coming from the individual stranger themselves. It's coming from someone that I already know, that's going to land. It's basically night and day between how you would respond to that situation. And that is the exact situation that your prospects are in when you're getting introduced to them via your partners, because that trust is already established. And so let's wrap up with success. And they're all amazing, but I personally think especially as more companies are starting to focus on retention, this might be the best for last. But why is success, perhaps one of the most underdeveloped and underserviced area in the business when it comes to partnerships? What do you think is a blocker for people? But why do you think it is so important, especially now to deliver co success with your partners? And that interaction? Tell me more about your thoughts on on that?
Ben Wright 24:06
Yeah, so I think I'll start off with like, why I think it's difficult at the moment for customer success managers, because I come from customer a customer success background in a prior life. And I think I think when I look at customer success and partnerships, how they interface and what the struggles are at the moment, candidly, I think it comes down to like internal education and enablement. And what I mean by that is like, okay, HelpScout we've got 80 integrations, right, we've got 50 channel partners, where we've got this this big, this big program, how can I make sure or confirm that these customer success managers know all of these partners, right? Like, it's, it's a really difficult task. So I think that's the piece which is probably holding Customer Success back from really leaning into partners is really the enablement and education piece. And candidly, I don't think anybody's got that right. I think it's difficult. But I'll move on to Why it should matter to them and why the customer success teams should lean into partnerships. And I think I think it comes back to the fact that if you, I don't want to put any high level stats out there, I actually think it's really hard to quantify with data necessarily, but I will just say a statement that I think everybody listening to this will agree with another head too. And that is, if you if you have a core product and you integrate something in you have actually taken the time and the effort to integrate HelpScout, and HubSpot, it makes it more difficult for you to leave HelpScout, because you've already got these tools connected, meaning you need to disconnect from those tools. And then when you start a new product, you then have to reconnect them. And there's a lot of manual effort that goes into that. So I think like, broadly speaking, and I know it, when I see a customer with 234 integrations into help scale, I'm much more convinced that they're going to be a sticky customer, because they have taken the time to realize one HelpScout is important. And because HelpScout is important, we need to integrate it into our into other tools that we use on a daily basis, right. There's also additional benefit, because the two tools together create a better experience all up for both for both our internal and internal teams and our customers. So I think it comes back to as a partnership, team or function, or even all partnership managers. That's what we're getting right at the moment is internal enablement and education. And there's there's tools coming out, I think in the near future, which might be able to help with that. But the second part of it becomes, what does it do to CSMs, it gives them it should give them confidence that your product is is more sticky and more valuable because they've gone through the effort of connecting other tools. And it will make them more sticky just because it's an effort to disconnect and then reconnect them to other tools. But then thirdly, it gives you a buddy and a PAL and a resource where if renewals get tough, you can start to bring in partners to help influence that conversation. And again, like it happens in customer success, like you've got tricky customer like they've gone dark, they're not responding renewals coming up, right? And that's a stress point for you reach out to your partner team and be like, hey, like this customer? ABC Corp is not is not talking to me, and we need to renew it. Do you ever part of the works? Going crossbeam? Figure that out? Yeah, yeah, this partner does. Let me reach out, and then they can get in contact and hopefully, you know, get a conversation with with the point of contact there and also influence that conversation. I like, Oh, why are you talking to help Scotland, they've got a great product, love the team over there. So two ways it gets you an additional and then it also goes back to the point we've discussed previously of having that stamp of approval, which is also really important. So I guess that's why I would say well, there's there's there's a lot of things that we need to do to make customer success managers lives easier. But in general, it's like a massive ticking the box and they can they can figure out.
Will Taylor 28:02
Yeah, and I feel like CSMs are always looking for what value can I add? You know, maybe it's a new feature release, maybe it's a new blog article or piece of information, or, you know, they could have a conversation with them. But why not enhance all of that with, Hey, here's a solution that can help you. And oh, by the way, it's not even our company. So I'm not trying to sell you on anything that's going to continue to develop trust and continue to deliver even more value. And the more you engage your partners, like you were saying it makes them stick here. So let's, let's finish off with what you're excited about for PLS, what's something that you're looking forward to, for the event from Ben himself?
Ben Wright 28:43
Yeah, I think for me, it's actually probably the topic we ended up on, which is the which is the customer success use case. I'm in agreement with you that I actually think they hold the keys to the kingdom so to speak from, from a flywheel perspective, like, Okay, we need to get leads back to our partners, who owns the customer relationship, who owns the relate, who owns the customer conversation, it's oftentimes your CSM. So that's what I'd be interested in kind of hearing. And what I'm most looking forward to is how Customer Success leaders. Think about partners, what issues do they have? And then like, what ideas do they have that we can be doing to make their lives easier, I guess, there you go. And it's going to be a similar sentiment across days as well. For everyone listening, thank you for another great episode. And of course, sign up to PL XP like summit.com and get your team in there. You get them to listen to this podcast is why it's very valuable. Yeah, yeah. And we'll be the change that b2b needs. We will see you there and we'll see you on the next episode as well. Thank you so much. Jazz