Howdy Partners #13: Co-Success

The team digs into building those "win-win" partnerships through co-success. Ideally, this will help you understand how to define what co-success means to you and your org, and the paths you can take to start achieving those wins as soon as possible.

3 Key Takeaways

  1. Before you can fill in gaps and connect dots, you need to understand how your partners work.
    Know who your partner is, how their company is set up, what they service (their core competencies), and how they price. Once you understand who they are, and what they care about, you can be more precise with the value you create for them.
  2. Do a gaps analysis on both your partners and your internal success model.
    Understand what the success people actually do in each organization, the inquiries they're getting from customers, and the gaps they can't fill. That will allow you to find ways each partner can fill in gaps for the other.
  3. If you haven't already, develop one relationship with one CX person, and try to get them to test.
    You need an internal champion on your success team. If you do not already have one, be intentional about seeking one out.

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Full Transcript:

Will Taylor  00:20

Howdy partners, welcome to another episode with myself and Tom and today we're going to be talking about CO success. I'm personally really excited about this one because I feel that it might be a bit under talked about because it's not focused on net new revenue, but it does have a massive impact in the long term benefits of partnerships. So Tom will be our expert for today Tom, how's it going?

Tom Burgess  00:51

It's going well, we we are in full fall weather here in the Rockies. Leaf peeping is happening on a very frequent basis, you get a lot of good color changes in the trees. Keeping leave people that is a that is a very standard term. If you live near the Rockies or live near mountains. In the fall, people go to the mountains to go leaf peeping. got beautiful colors, beautiful pictures, get some get some pics for the gram and all that stuff. But no, it's great. I love fall. Football is back. My wife and I went to a concert last night Red Rock. So we are already I love it. Yep, seeing the same here, rain and snow will be upon us in Canada. So co success. We so again, as Adi the audience knows, or if you haven't listened to this before, Tom comes from both sides of the partnership engagement both on the agency side and the tech side. And when it comes to co success, Tom, I would love to get your idea of what's that, like first step and story that people in partnerships at let's say a tech company need to understand and dive into before really leaning into a co success model. What are the first thing you need to do? Yeah, so I saw this post, and I can't remember who who put it up on LinkedIn. But it was it was, to me one of the most one of the most eye opening kind of like, hey, let's take a step back and understand kind of like how we approach partnerships, because I think one of the biggest mindset aspects that I see maybe fail a lot is, is when you're in partnerships, and you're gaining traction, you're acquiring, let's just say service agency partners, you know, it's a good some, sometimes it's a good mindset to be in, like, you think that all of your partnerships are just going to be amazing, they're going to drive loads of Rev Gen, they're going to drive, you know, qualify like five to 10 qualified ops every month. And I think that's just not a realistic approach. That's the pie in the sky. That's what you want down the road. But But this post was, was super glaring in the sense that like, you know, SAS companies, you look at, if I'm, if I'm partnerships, and SAS, my customer base could be in the 1000s. Or I could have, you know, 10s of 1000s of customers. When I look at an agency partner, they they have a fraction of that. So I guess just understanding your realistic output from a an agency partner, or even a tech partner, for that matter. It's one of those items where you know, you are starting to understand and grasp the organization. And you're going to inherently approach partnerships, and maybe a more real sense than just like, hey, you know, they're gonna drive 100k and pipe in the next two years, like, that's just not it. But if you can, if you approach it in a proper manner, then that might become a reality. It's just how you you need to, you need to level set on the idea that your, your partners are just going to have the same customer base that you do as a SaaS product, and it's just not real.

Will Taylor  03:58

Yeah. And so what are some of the main things that let's, let's use the agency, partner, as an example, what are some of the main things that a partner professional needs to focus on when thinking about how does this partnership become successful? What are maybe two elements that they should focus on and better understanding of the partner?

Tom Burgess  04:18

Yeah, so I think, I think from the get go, a partner, partner manager, or someone who's owning partnership, relationships, should really understand how agencies work. And that's, that's hard to do. Like, it's easy for me to say, because I came from an agency. And that's something that you and I talked about a lot when when we were working together is like, how do we really wrap our minds around how these partnerships are set up as businesses? So one of the one of the things that is really hard to skip because it it takes a lot it takes some time, is understanding who that partner is like, how is their company set up? What can they service, right there are there are different styles of agencies you've got very niche ones that focus on, you know, creative focus on web design development, product launch, right, like apps. But then there's the more full service agencies that can do content generation, web development, video production. Sales Enablement is a really big one. So just understanding kind of the ecosystem of how your your agencies are set up is a really, really critical step to understanding, okay, where can I, where can I start to kind of like insert or work with teams that will drive success that will understand our product, that will be kind of like the frontlines of pushing that. And then I think another another similar. Another similar note there, but very different is how do your partners go to market and more so like, then like, yeah, we can we can write blogs, we can, you know, design your website, it's much more about how they price, because, as you'll see, with a lot of agencies, there are there are some that are very value based pricing. So they you know, give you a price tag on a monthly basis, quarterly basis, annual, whatever it is, and all the objective state is we are trying to hit these goals, and we will do whatever it takes in our power in our expertise to achieve that success. So on the flip side, you've got a lot of agencies that will price out by points or by like a menu system. So you know, a blog is worth four points, landing pages worth 10 points. And on a monthly basis, you know, their clients buy a certain amount of points. And we can go into detail about, you know, my opinion on, on what partners and how they price, how that affects successful partnerships. But we'll save that for another episode. The most, the most important thing here is there you can attack and be successful in partnerships by understanding how their business is set up, set up, what they what they can execute on, what's their expertise, and how they price it out. Because as you start to deliver or understand what cost assess means, or really understanding how partnerships flourish, is by knowing how to position technology. And that's a really important step. So if you know that then then great. And I think it's a once again, one of those things where if you have a lot of partnerships, or you are managing a portfolio of 30 to 50, partnerships, that that can be tough to do. But I think it's really important. And it actually doesn't take that much time, because you're gonna see a lot of common trends and how they're set up. And you'll just know, inherently okay, what this means who you should be talking to.

Will Taylor  07:29

Yeah, and I would say all of that still applies to tech partners as well, I know you're using agencies as the example. But for tech partners, it's the same thing, how are they actually delivering success to their clients, because that is inevitably going to play a role in how they will deliver sex success to your clients, and, of course, how your teams can collaborate or what kind of nuances there are going to be. So really understand your businesses, or your partner's business model in terms of how they go to market, what are their competencies? And then of course, yeah, how are they pricing? What's the structure because, you know, you could be a cheaper tool. And if you're working with a tech partner, it could be a much more expensive tool. So the entire interaction is going to be potentially extremely different, because maybe there's more of a hands on implementation, because it's a larger contract, and there's more people involved. So you really need to understand those nuances. So that when you are delivering success, it's it's completely aligned so

Tom Burgess  08:25

well, in sorry, well, you actually brought up a really good point, because if we are, if we're broad speak here, thinking about tech partners, that is that is so much more in like a microscopic lens of needing to understand how their sales process works, you know, their customer base, and because like even from we talked about, like the stark contrast between an agency client portfolio, and a SASS company portfolio of customers, but even from SAS company to sass company, there can be very glaring differences and understanding their sales motion versus yours makes it very easy for you to kind of like build that that mechanism so that you're not stepping on their toes, because you want them to sell their product first. That's why they weren't there. They're making money from that company. But how can you make them more of that multi Solutions Architect versus like a single point solution that that that that's critical.

Will Taylor  09:18

I love that. And we'll be getting into the multi Solution Architect, which I like the way you were to that. So what's the what's, what's the next step then? So I'm a partner manager, and I've figured out crack the code on my partner's business model. What do I do next?

Tom Burgess  09:36

You get a gold star for cracking the business model first and foremost. So once you start to evolve, or once you start to see that, you know, this partner is performing in whatever, you know, kind of KPIs or measurements that is, I think aligning partnerships to the rest of your organization is something that is going to be talked about a lot. And it's you I mentioned this when I was growing I'm on the panel, Jesse. Because that partnerships, partnership, people need to be the biggest cheerleaders in themselves, because partnerships is still so new. It's so nebulous, like a lot of companies are like, whoa, we got a partnership team. And you know, a leadership might say, see this as like a really ideal investment, because they see that partnerships drives revenue, but the sales work the CX org, a lot of these other really important verticals in your company, need to know about it too, because ultimately, as you start to mature, and I emphasize mature, because one of the things that makes us really successful is by understanding that you have a very well oiled partnerships machine going, like your partners are creating more, they're driving business, they're driving revenue. And now what you start to do is shout it from the rooftops, because, you know, much like every company has its own issues, you know, SAS companies are going to have churn, they're going to have ops go to competitors. And so if you can start to say to your sales, org, hey, you know, like, let's bring a partner in to help you with the sale, or maybe like speed this up, or like, why it's important, or why, why a partner might be a really good fit to help execute on a, you know, like a video strategy, you know, let's just use a video marketing tool. You know, in the sales process, you'll understand if you've got a confident wing of partners in the background that can help kind of like push things over the line, you can drive their success a lot more by saying, listen, X customer is about to sign I know, they're not very tech savvy, like I'm really concerned about their adoption of the tool set, I wonder if I can align a partner to help enable an onboard them to make them a more confident user and adopter of the tool. That's the that's kind of like that internal mindset. And I know I'm kind of going on a tangent here, I tend to do that. But all that to say is internal teams, aside from partnerships, can leverage partners to drive value or help them kind of like succeed or, or save churn rate. So the other side of this is like the CX team, CX is well aware of customers that are, you know, kind of like flatlining, or don't have a pulse and are about to churn. So once again, you know, if you understand or if it's the CX word, the sales rep, whoever is in your company knows that you have partners behind them that can execute on x, y, and z, then it's, it's, they should be very, very quick to say, like, listen, it seems like you're not getting the tools that I'm I like, I want to make sure that you see our tech as useful. But would it make sense for me to align you with a partner that can help can really help you flourish or drive forward with our technology, because that's that, that now you're talking about LTV coming in, I just think partners inside of an organization, besides the partnership team, can be so much can be way more utilized than it currently is. And it's really hard to do, but like the people that get it will get it quickly and see the success.

Will Taylor  13:06

Yeah. And so just to summarize, for that, the best way to figure out where those puzzle pieces are, is to do an analysis on what is the internal success model? How is your team currently delivering success? Yeah, what do they actually do? You know, like, are they what is their day to day look like? And then, of course, doing some interviews or collected some data on what kind of information are they receiving back from the customers? Do they have inquiries about, you know, certain technologies or certain assistance that they need? That's all going to inform how the partners fit into the puzzle? And then, of course, what can they not do? Or what can your software not do? What are the gaps, and that will of course, again, then inform how your partner program can deliver more success to the client and have that CO success motion starting to go. So in short, the three things would be what do the success people actually do in the organization? What are they getting inquiries about from the client? And what can't they do? Or what can your software do? That would be gaps that could be filled from partners?

Tom Burgess  14:17

Yeah. And yes, you summarize that so elegantly, right? Like a perfect example is, you know, a lot of a lot of SaaS companies will, you know, have professional service teams that can, you know, execute on some semblance of work. But inevitably, you know, your your ceiling on what you can execute on or what you're willing to execute on is, is pretty small. And it rings so true, because like to your point, it takes so much preparation. That's why I say this is not for the faint of heart, you need to have a mature partnership program moving, but it takes time to interview like get with the CX team get with the sales team to understand like, what are their pain points, what are the common friction But friction points that they see where they're, you know, like they're turning clients like, why is that happening? And once you understand the why behind, you know, some of their gaps or their pain points, you can then kind of present this this ensemble of like, well, I've got several partners that might be able to help you. So like, how do we how can I, how can we help you help yourself, by knowing that there's going to be certain certain points in your customers lifecycle where a partner could come in and help you. And it would be a no brainer, but the problem is like you need to that takes time, you have to train them, you have to, like, present in front of the CX team, you've got to work that up. So like, it's kind of like building a business model, outside of your current business model, and it it, it's awesome when it works. It's sometimes like, you know, you want to bang your head through a wall when, you know, like you've said it so many times, like a partner could help your partner can help your partner can help you. You just got to stick with it. Right? Like, keep going, because it once you see it work, it will be great.

Will Taylor  16:02

Yeah. And so let's talk about how we can bridge the gap between what our partners can do and what we can't do or what we need to deliver more success to clients. What, what are some of the things that the partner person can do to help to build that internal alignment, whether it's data points, or even activities to run as well? What What would you say to someone who said, okay, great, I've done you know, step one, step two, I figured out those two things. Now, what do I do? How do I make that bridge?

Tom Burgess  16:37

Yeah, so I kind of spoiled it. But I think the idea of data points are great. So like, we just talked about the CX team. And we're just going to keep focusing on CX, because I think agencies, like if we're sticking in the agency, model, agencies, biggest impact will most likely be revenue, but like, you will see it much more in the lifetime value of a customer because you have experts that are working with customers day in and day out. And they're not just focusing on executing their work, they're focusing on maintaining their technology. So yeah, it's when you have data points, or when you figure out the data points that matter to a partner organization, I think is really important. Like, first and foremost, we talked about the partner first, like, what's going to be really important to them? Are they you know, like focus on their arr? Are they focused on customer expansion? Because if they're focus on customer expansion, now we can start talking about the product product, lead growth movement of like, how do you scale up technology, but more importantly, based on what they can execute? You know, what services have you helped them develop around your product? Okay, now we come over to CX, what data points are they really focused on churn rates, you know, lifetime value, and then upsell opportunity, right? So like, they're very key points that you can then start to build. Once again, like a business presentation, like a man, like just an, a roadmap for how you can help them hit their goals, without really needing to help them out, like, it's really going to be bridging and driving a lot of CO success between a partner organization, and your CX team. And once those, building, the process is really important, like when a CX team is is in the mindset that partners can help them save and reduce churn rates, you are going to be that middleman and you are middle person, you are going to be the quarterback to understanding what that process should be. How do you How does it best succeed? How do you not step on other partners toes? Because you know, like, you're gonna have several partnerships that probably well, I will state the fact you will have several partnerships that want a symbiotic kind of like revolving revenue stream from your organization as well, whether that's doable or not, it's all about how you present it. But in that, in that model, you have to kind of be open to the fact that there's going to be several verticals, several agencies or several partners that can help execute and not picking your favorite is going to be really hard. No, it's not gonna be hard to do, but you just can't do it. So I hope that helped answer your question. I feel like it didn't. But if you focus on what's critical, or the goals to a specific, internal org, CX sales, support even supports a great one that we haven't really touched on, depending on what your product is. All. All you do at that point, is then align with agencies and start to build this model that allows you to build first and then train the CX team second, right? Because like, you're not trying to overstep on on what they're doing. You're just trying to help them out. And if they're like, Hey, we can help you out. Let's talk about it.

Will Taylor  19:52

Nice. And so I will, I'll do the summarizing again, which is which is great. I love all the information that

Tom Burgess  19:58

you give him on apple cider. If not, there you go,

Will Taylor  20:01

about to go for some leaf peeping right after this. So from what you said, it sounds like, basically, you're doing two gap analyses where you're doing the gap analysis, or I guess you know, how they fill the gap for the partner, and then the gap analysis for your existing organization. And then you're essentially connecting the dots of Okay, so here's the gap. Here's the goal, and how do we connect the two of what the competencies are on either side, so that we can deliver that CO success to the client. And so what you'll be able to do in doing, you know, step one, step two, that we talked about earlier, is you'll have those data points and those puzzle pieces of okay, so partners good at this, we're about bad at this, how does that then connect? And how does that then impact the business as well, you'll have a lot of that information. And you can make a really educated guess on Okay, so here's the connection. Now, let's start testing it. And so let's wrap it up with one tactical tip. So we know that it's hard to get internal buy in. And of course, to get programs running, what is your number one tactical tip that you would give to anyone in partnerships, who is looking to create a co success motion? And we talked a lot about CX today, so perhaps it could be focused on

Tom Burgess  21:21

that? Yeah, yeah, good point. Um, so I think my tactical takeaway starts with what we talked about first, which is if you can build better knowledge about how your partnership companies are built, established, and you know, running, it will allow you to then align your product, and what's going to be most important for your product around specific partnerships, because the long game here is, if I understand partnerships, and I understand the company, how they sell how their organization is built, then what I'm going to pick up over time, is what they can execute on, or what they can be brought in to help drive value without other organizations who are sorry, other other internal departments like CX. So the tactical takeaway there is like, just start understanding how your partnership companies are built, and you'll actually have a lot more output than you think, like you understand, you know, are you working with the right teams? Are you are you aligned towards like, their goals and what they're building because down the road, and I know this, from the Ag side, I knew that we were really good at building out, you know, video strategies, or we're executing on video production, because that's the wing of the side of business I was on. And if that aligns really nicely to a specific product, and I know that from a partnership side, then it's a natural fit for how you then help CX, you know, salvage churn rates, because you can now provide a partner that can help this customer who so needs a video strategy developed, build a video strategy? And it's, we're not talking about anything massive, just start writing down, like, what did they do? What did they execute on? What are they really good at? And how does that line up with maybe specific products or specific features in your products, that that can align nicely towards service development, scaling, helping your sales team and helping your CX team,

Will Taylor  23:17

I love that it's very, very much. So the the mapping and what this is eventually going to do for your success team, as well as let's say, in the lens of tech partners, if they're mapping all these things out across, or you're mapping it for them across, you know, 510 different tech partners, you'll have almost like your own little ecosystem that you can then give to the CX team, where you can say, hey, if your customers having this problem, you should recommend this technology. And that just brings that extra layer of trust and expertise that your CX team can deliver when they get those inquiry. So I love the the mapping and like really simplifying into those data points that we mentioned, of what they're good at what we're bad at, and where does it fit? And how does it align with the businesses? Just

Tom Burgess  23:59

sorry, just to touch on one of the things I want to I want to bring this to the other side, which is the tech partnerships. You know, the same thing goes for tech, you know, if you you if you have X product and your your tech partner has y product, and you're talking about driving cost success together. The really cool thing is like, you guys are both organizations that should still look at service partners, as kind of that triad play to say like, Listen, I've got and you'll hear this so many times like hey, what agencies are you guys partnered with as well, because now you have this close knit group of agencies that no both products can execute so well on both in the tech stack it it. It rings true for both sides.

Will Taylor  24:37

Yep. 100%. And that is the the ecosystem play. And I will leave everyone with this one last thing in terms of what you can implement today, develop one relationship with one CX person and try and get them to test because you need to validate and on some level you need those internal champions. So if you haven't already develop a relationship with someone on the CX team And then just start dripping them those little bits of value so that they'll eventually execute with you on the ideas and the other night. Yep. Yeah, nice like

Tom Burgess  25:10

and you'll find you will find a partner the next day that can help them.

Will Taylor  25:15

Love it. We're gonna end it there. Tune in next time for some more amazing howdy partners, tactical tips and stories. Thanks so much for listening. Bye, everyone.

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