Howdy Partners #18: Hiring

A quick but great chat on hiring. We pose some questions on hiring internally versus externally and specific roles that lead to success in partnerships.

3 Key Takeaways:

  1. Take into consideration the potential hire's potential for training and development.
    Don't just focus on a potential hire's current skillset. Think beyond that.
  2. If there's appetite in your internal hires, they come in already kind of on-boarded.
  3. Keep in mind – the success of a BDR in a partner program role can vary depending on the goals and stage of the program
    BDRs may excel at recruiting new partners but may struggle with more strategic partnership motions and growing revenue.

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Full transcript:

Will Taylor  00:20

Howdy partners, and welcome to another episode of The howdy partners podcast where we are going to be talking about hiring today, the skills and also how you can make hiring a bit easier for yourself both in the resources and how you can potentially hire internally, as well. And you'll walk away with some tactical tips on this episode. And this is going to be a shorter one. So we might go a bit quick, but I think it will be a good one. So hiring. Ben, I would love to start with you and your experiences with this when you were considering hiring for positions in your previous roles. What were some of the first things that you thought about when it came to finding the people and the skills as well?

Ben Wright  01:05

Yeah, it's a good question. And I think it comes back to some of the points you mentioned in the introduction. And in both roles. I've been in large, I've led partnership teams, some of my first hires have actually been internal hires. And the reason that I opt for internal hires, if there's appetite, and I think they have the skill set available is that they come in, already kind of being on boarded. And what I mean by that is like, they know the product that you're selling intimately, they probably know a little bit about the ecosystem that you've built, they've had, in some circumstances, either been on the marketing team or the sales teams, they've had experience actually working directly with partners as well. And when you think about a traditional onboarding cycle, I think the statistic is people aren't fully on boarded until MONTH nine in a new role. And if you think about how long a period that is, like, do I have confidence in myself that I can teach somebody how to be a good partner manager? In under nine months? I would say absolutely, I can do that. And so for me, it's kind of that risk reward of people that maybe less partnership experience, but more internal business experience, which one can I get optimized and up to speed the fastest? And so in short answer, I do always opt for an internal candidate if I can get an internal candidate, because like I said, in certain roles, there's, there's, there's definite benefit there.

Will Taylor  02:24

And so for the internal roles, we'll dive into some of the strengths of the ones that we'll be covering, but Tom, would you rather hire an account executive, or a customer success manager to become a partner manager? What's your initial reaction, and

Tom Burgess  02:42

I'm gonna get a lot of flack for this, it's really gonna depend on their experience. I agree with Ben, I'd rather hire internally just based on their hopeful intellectual property that they have. To me, the CX is probably what I would lean towards, because it's a partnerships and just like, take the partnership manager role to for example, like it's much more relationship driven. And, and long term and value like, cx to me, right? This is opinionated, they know the product and being able to like, help manage and project manage and scale priorities. Whereas once again, myself from an AE perspective, you have no problem like building relationships from like the ground up. But how you start to plan and effectively scale beyond that is much less than your control. So good question. I would hire for our partner manager role a CX professional, and hopefully I can help or hopefully, we can help train them up, and some of those intangible pieces,

Ben Wright  03:58

and I would plus one, that answer funnily enough, and again, we're gonna get a ton of slack of flack, I'm sure from from Bernie. But what I would say is just to just carry on Tom's answer as they get the, the total value. And what I mean by that is like a is a very good at growing an initial relationship, making the sale and then dropping off an account. If you think about CES and CX, their whole role is to make sure that the customer gets value out of the product throughout the lifecycle. And in a very similar way, like with partners, you sign a partner. Great, right? That's just the starting point. And so being able to provide value for a long period of time is is paramount. And I think there's definite kind of crossover with how CSMs and CX deal with their with customers.

Will Taylor  04:45

Interesting. Yeah, I definitely agree with those points, and it's probably often slept on to look at the customer success side of hiring when it comes to getting someone in for being a partner manager. From my experience, and exposure most Have the partner managers have a sales background. And I would say that I'm going to be the contrary one here, I would say that an account executive would be a better hire marginally better, but a better hire just because their focus on funnel development and forecasting and the focus on revenue, not that CSMs are not focused on that are not capable of that. But I think it's just the world of an account executive to really understand how they can drive revenue, and even the different stages of the sales cycle. I think there may be some friction for a CSM. But those are also coachable things. So I think the more valuable hire in the long run is probably the CSM, because they would manage the relationship and be able to run those projects and really have that robust, emotional understanding of the relationship. And then on the account executive side, there are the benefits, but I would say it may be they may be to use to the short term relationships, and that may trip them up a bit in the partner management side of things. And so let's say I'm an organization and I don't necessarily have those quick, quick, quick, quick laundry plans you're jumping because let's do

Ben Wright  06:22

one, one pushback or one question I'd ask you is like, an A is very, a heads up coin operated, but you always hear about sales reps being caught up, right? They care about closing deals getting revenue? What do you think of the risks of having a knee in a role where a deal might not come? For nine months? For a year? For over a year? Right? Like are there any risks you see there from like having an A in a partner role, where the sales cycles are like far elongated and anything they've ever

Will Taylor  06:51

needed? Oh, it's, I would say there would be a learning process and it could potentially trip them up and it may spark some some bad habits. But I think it's it's something that they'll just have to learn. And my this is becoming a debate my my rebuttal to that would be a CSM may not even have an idea of like, should I apply pressure? Should I you know, lean in? Should I, you know, how does this affect my forecasting? Like they generally would operate on, you know, more of an annual renewal side of things. And so, I yeah, I would say there's pros and cons to both. And to answer your question directly, would probably trip them up, and I'd have to unlearn some of those things. But there are definitely the auxilary pieces of knowledge that I think would supplement. Okay, so this is a challenge. It didn't come quick enough. Now do I do you know, well, I have those forecasting elements, I have the ability to persuade I have the ability to you know, it's kind of like an objection I can navigate through the situation or the conversation with different skills. So I would say

Ben Wright  08:00

Tom, you come from a sales background right price of in function, so

Tom Burgess  08:04

no, not really. Yeah, cuz I

Ben Wright  08:06

was pure CSM. So I've always got a sweet spot for the customer success. So I think I mean,

Tom Burgess  08:12

I do too. I do too. But you can see the blend that you need. And that middle ground is is exactly what we're talking about. Where it's that's what you train on. That's what you help curb. That's where you help change. Like, if you're an AE great. If your deal oriented. Great. Let's let's switch that habit, versus CSM where you need to be a little bit more like under, in the know of like, where the deals are going. Let's

Ben Wright  08:35

let's build that call. Yeah, that was a that was a great question. Well, great question.

Will Taylor  08:40

Yeah. So going off of that. I'm curious your thoughts on okay, if I am a partner team, and I'm running a bit more lean, and I may need to hire someone more junior? What are your thoughts on someone who is an SDR or BDR getting into the partner management role? Pros Cons, things to be aware of? Is it a good place to look to hire internally? What are your thoughts?

Ben Wright  09:06

And so what? So I think I'd answer this with, with maybe a bit of nuance to it based on like, what are you trying to accomplish in your partner program? And like if I'm looking at a brand new program where one of my key goals is like, I've really nailed my IPP, I just need to go and recruit new partners, right? Like that is the number one goal that we've got the most is to recruit new partners, then great, like, they're probably the best person to go out and do that because they've got iron constitutions they use people said, no, they know how to cold call, all that kind of stuff, which your traditional partner manager probably isn't coherent. The worry I'd have is that as you start to get into like the more strategic partnership motions, or you're now at a stage of like, okay, we've signed partners that we now need to grow revenue, because they're more junior in their career and it goes back to your point earlier actually around all CSM is aware of like sales cycles and when to push and stuff like that. I I've actually Seeing the the RS be too pushy with partners and because they're very used to like not taking no for an answer and and that can actually be very unappealing to partners. That's just based on my experience. And so I think my answer would be in certain circumstances, they're great, especially if you want a hunter that's gonna go out sign partners. Phenomenal. Right. But like, I think my answer would be that good in in certain situations.

Tom Burgess  10:26

Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it's funny that's like what we're hiring for right now because we need to acquire partners. So it to me, it's, I don't, I don't necessarily care where we're hiring from, like, if it's to hire for a BDR role or like to hire into like a partner manager, it's, it's going to be much more about like, Can is this person adaptable to like, an eager to learn the skill sets that are necessary? And that's really hard to do. And we've talked about this so many times before, there's no major in college right now for like strategic partnerships. So you're going to start, you're going to start thinking about like, am I am I starting in sales? Am I starting in CX, like, for me, it was, like all about being an account strategist for a digital marketing agency. But over time, you learn skill sets that allow you to step into a role, whether you're just trying to get into an organization. So you start as a BDR, then you raise your hand and you're like, you know, listen, I've got experience in developing relationships, I don't need to be too pushy, like, it's all about where the end game is, or where it leads to. Man, that's kind of like be weave in will you and I have seen it, I feel like we've had employees or colleagues in the past that have started on the SDR BDR side, and then come into a partner manager role and been been amazing. Because they're open and willing to say, like, Listen, this is exciting. This is a new challenge, like I am very capable of of being open and sponge to learn what it takes to manage partners, versus you know, cold calling, and what it takes to like manage deals to hand over to an E. So

Ben Wright  12:06

that's it, that's actually a phenomenal point on like, even think about that is like, imagine you have a BDR who's younger in their career, their appetite to learn is going to be and change their ways and adapt new skills is going to be far higher than like a season Grizzle would account executive who has been in SAS for 15 years, right? Like, it's gonna be a lot more difficult to be like, actually, no, you need to do things this way. So I think that's spot on point. Like, maybe that's kind of changed my opinion a little bit, because they are more moldable and willing to learn different, different skills.

Will Taylor  12:38

Nice. And then I guess, if you are looking internally, and there's, you know, multiple BDR STRS to pick from, then I feel Tom, from our experience, there's one people who will kind of raise their hand to do this kind of thing. So that kind of initiates the fact that they are willing to learn and change and branch into more of a strategic role. But then two, you can usually understand that they're pretty relationship focused versus, you know, the cold caller who's, you know, blasting the phones all day, and you know, probably performing well enough, but you probably wouldn't want to choose them, you'd want to choose the one that's a bit more personable, and kind of stands out on the relationship side of things. And so I think if you do have multiple videos, or STRS to choose from, you probably have a good feel for that anyways, and then, yeah, have a conversation with them to see if they're interested in that kind of strategic role. So in the last couple of minutes, what are your thoughts on let's say the number one skill or personality traits? I know there's different things but skill or personality trait that you would want to hire for in anyone, whether it's an internal hire, or if it's externally What's that one thing that you're thinking this needs to be a part of this person's skill set or personality? For them to be a good fit for partner management?

Ben Wright  14:04

Told me to go fast or yeah,

Tom Burgess  14:05

I'll go I think it just goes back to your ability to like cultivate relationships because whether whether it's like partner relationships and more of the external focus, like how can you carry yourself how can you like drive and scale forward but like we've seen it more importantly, like you need to have an establish those internal relationships with marketing with CX with sales. There's so much on the line. So actually, as I think about it, I might revert back think relationships and how you carry yourself is really important, but having more of that like project management brain to be able to quarterback initiatives forward is really important. So talking about maybe the soft skills of being a people person are very x Oh my gosh, being external focus versus like internal. And then on top of that is like how do you manage, how do you organize? Like how do you like build towards you go?

Ben Wright  15:03

But what do you think? I would say like the key skill, I look for somebody that's like, entrepreneurial, or like innovative, because partnerships is this thing where there's principles that you can apply. But ultimately, like, you have to figure figure things out with your partners. And so, for me, if somebody can show that they've like, redesigned a process, or taken a problem and got around it and figured something out, like, realistically, me as a, as a Director of Partnerships, I can give people direction, and things that I'd like them to do. But it's going to be up to them to figure things out, because all partners are different as we as we know. So for me, like if I'm hiring a partner, manager, somebody that is that is entrepreneurial, and is willing to run their book of business, like their own business, for me is like, I'd say, number one, above everything else.

Will Taylor  15:53

Nice. It was gonna give my opinion, but you both said the two things that I was thinking of, so we are clearly aligned. Well, we're gonna wrap up this episode. And if you are hiring, reach out to us, we probably know some people that are either looking for a role or we can always amplify your posting. And partnership leaders also has a job board. Any other resources, guys that you think would be useful for anyone job boards, stop,

Ben Wright  16:20

stop, start building building network on LinkedIn as well, right like just final tip just in terms of you're searching for a job. Don't apply via like, a normal job site, go directly to the hiring manager or VP of partnerships. Whoever asked to talk about the role. Go in that route. I would say for everyone don't get caught in my ATS systems because you'll never even get an interview. So that will be his final tip for for anyone.

Will Taylor  16:44

Agreed. All right. Well, thank you for listening to another episode of How to partners. We will see you on the next one. Cheers.

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