The gentlemen picked up our first guest!
Justin Zimmerman from PartnerPlaybooks.com, joins to shed light on how you should approach and build your partnerships outreach strategy. Justin has a melting pot of experience, and he walks through 3 key principles for gaining partner acquisition traction: fire, aim, ready.
3 Key Takeaways
- Don't overthink, execute.
In the beginning, you're trying and failing to learn what sticks. No two partner programs are the exact same which means there will always be an inevitable learning period. The key to starting is just to start.
- The fastest way to get results is to systematically figure out what tools or category of tools your customers are already using.
Once he figures out the apps or the category of apps that overlap, Justin starts outreach. He signs up for newsletters, trials, and demos, and messages CEOs. Once he gets into contact w has a script on-hand about how much his customers like xyz product.
- Your ICP is the most valuable person you could solve a problem for.
You could solve many different problems for many different people. Don't go wide. Go deep.
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Tom Burgess 00:20
Howdy partners welcome back to another rending and rendition sorry, I can't even speak. It's Thursday. Great rendition of our podcasts. You might notice we don't have Ben today Ben got caught up in meetings. But that is the magic of our group. We can pivot. We still got well, myself. And we do have a special guest today, which we'll get to here in a second. But we'll How are you doing? How's your week?
Will Taylor 00:44
Doing good. It's crazy. We're in the thick of all of the planning and stuff over at partner Acker. And it's, it's good, the busyness is good for business. And fun fact, those two words are one letter away, but you still technically pronounce them almost the same. I always love typing that out. Hope the busyness is good for business. And that's what I'm going through right
Tom Burgess 01:06
now. Yeah, I know you're you're just a fan of the dictionary. And and word combo. is texting a word today? Great. And I kept trying to spell it great. Like the word great and full. And I was like, No, that's not right. Said something else. And luckily, my iPhone corrected it. But we don't need to get too much into that. We also want to welcome Justin Zimmerman. Justin, welcome to the show.
Justin Zimmerman 01:27
Thanks for having me guys. Happy to help in give answers and guidance as much investors I can
Tom Burgess 01:34
love it. Yeah, Justin. We'd love to hear a little bit about your background where you've been from just to give the the audience a little bit of a tickle for today's show. There's another play on nice little saucy word. But we're going to talk about kind of just culminate a few of the episodes we've talked about in the past, which is kind of that IPP and outreach and just that that getting launched style approach, what do you need to do? What do you need to focus on? And we're excited to have Justin here to kind of talk about it. So Justin, go ahead. Who are you? Where are you from? And what do you do?
Justin Zimmerman 02:06
Yeah, great questions. And so while currently I'm at the Salt Lake City Airport, waiting for a friend to arrive on a late flight. So pardon the background noise and distractions and Pico hears joining us. And so he's the magic behind all the great stuff that you hear and see from me and LinkedIn. He's the one he's my secret ghostwriter. But no, seriously, I get asked question a lot about, you know, how do you get started in partnerships? And most often answer I give is that, as a copywriter, where I started about 20 years ago, my first partnership was with the reader, which is what the customer which was the lead and character by character, word by word, I had to understand and articulate the value to them to get them to understand that we would be the right solution for them as the right partner, the right product to choose through marketing, the right words and content to help them enable and use the product. And so as I made my way, from copywriter, to content creator, to partnership, director, and now fractional partnership director at partner playbooks.com, where I help small companies, startups, and maybe to midsize companies figure out their partnership, launch go to motions, I realized that it's actually now just more than one product, it's now a stack of apps in a sequence of events that lead to a customer achieving their job to be done. And so most often, the view and lens that I bring that help that's going to color our conversation today is where does your app fit in the stack and sequence of your customers job to be done. And then looking at yourself as the chief Solutions Engineer looking down and saying, Hey, what's missing from their execution knowledge and technology stacks, and then building your partnership program around them. And so I kind of come from this customer centric copywriting content creation perspective, that's trying to fill the journey in for them, and partnerships when you're not building and you're not buying you're partnering to help solve that problem for them with apps and agencies.
Will Taylor 04:00
I love it. So clearly, you are the man for the episode today. And Justin, you and I got connected at sounds like through Pecos ghostwriting because it was through that content creation, you got caught up in the social ecosystem that is LinkedIn. And so I have Pico to thank for kicking that relationship off. So yeah, I'm really excited to dive into this. Your perspective, I think it's going to be really valuable. And before we started recording, you had a phrase that I think we'll stand out for people, especially in the partnerships world. Tell us about what a what that phrase is and why you think it's important, especially in that partnership space.
Justin Zimmerman 04:41
Yeah, so I've failed and I failed miserably, painfully. And that's also allowed me to succeed. And so, you know, I think part of what we're trying to do here with these episodes and podcasts and help new partner people, whether they're agency tech partner, people, product partner, people, age, channel, partner, people, all the different flavors of partner people. We all kind of start with this like kind of blank canvas in these demands to generate revenue and income, and that there's just so many options. So many playbooks, and every company is just like every person, they're just slightly different. And, you know, not one size fits all, every personality is different, just the way every company is different. And so what I realize is that, you know, unless there's like a clear set of principles that someone can take action from which I only had to learn the hard way, and hopefully you don't have to have today's episode, and most of these episodes is kind of a three step mentality that will avoid the pain that a lot of people face. And so what I realized in as I've started to work with other SaaS companies to help them with their partnership programs, is a concept that we've we've heard Ready Aim Fire, and I've tried to do that. And, you know, I can find myself analysis paralysis out of taking any action weeks, months, maybe years go by before you really start to see the traction of something going, and you're sitting there without fear with hesitation, you know, and you've got, you know, 30 things going on. And all of them are at level one, level two, when you could have one or two at level seven, level eight, while all the other ones are going on. And so, refactoring my approach from Ready Aim Fire, what we've recently discovered and putting into place, which is starting to get traction is something more like fire. Ready, aim. Or maybe I got no fire, aim ready. We're still working on the middle two. But the point is that, for a lot of companies, and a lot of people out there who are in partnership programs, there's already a pretty you know, what I'm gonna say gut level, like instinctual who would be good partners. And you know, you could do your IPP mapping, you do your ICP mapping, which are all really important. And we'll be layers in the cake for a long term partner plan, but to generate results quickly to show your boss or the boss who may have hired you, you got to make them look good, right? The question came up the other day is, I realized this a key kind of critical question, when getting started as either a consultant or a newbie in a program is, who do we need to impress? Who do we need to help make you look good in front of because somebody probably put their neck on the line to bring you in. And it's their job and role to make sure that you perform. And so like, you want to make them look good. And you want to find out what those key criteria are, dial it back to most minimal first set of steps and actions and go at it because I know, in my previous lifetimes, as employees and as an employee, like, you know, I wanted to take the most analytical, like, let's do it, right, let's build out all the research. And then we have the information. And once we have the information, we all can come together and agree on it when we come to agree on you know, in this like real kind of waterfall like approach. And so this, you know, fire Ready Aim methodology are running simultaneously at the same point in time. And so one of the things I would recommend anybody get into the position to enroll of partnership manager or partnership marketer is just go with your gut, like you can do that, you know, for most companies, they already have a sense of feel of who might be good customers, I mean, who might be the best customers, you don't need the most data driven, clear, precise model, there's probably some conversations already happening inside the organization around who might be great partners, or who are already good partners. And the problem is all that information is scattered everywhere. And all you got to do is collect it, take action on like two or three, pick up the phone, get some introductions, right and say, hey, you know, I'm the new blankety blank doing this, let's get going. And within 90 days, and that really should be the window. It's possible from zero to 90 days to have webinars, blogs, leads and sales being generated across multiple companies, if not more than one company, if not multiple companies. And you know, put some points on the board, take the pressure off a little bit and make someone look good. And I feel like you can do all that analysis, research work, which is still key critical and important. But you can do that over time, as you do this in time.
Will Taylor 09:04
Right. I love that. So yeah, on that fire. Ready, that fire aim ready. We'll have to get used to but it'll look good on on text. That thing is probably the most important for partner people. Because you can think of a good idea, especially in partnerships and potential partner could say, Yeah, sounds like a great idea. Let's do it. But in reality, if you're too focused on the idea and not as focused on the actual execution or taking that action, like you mentioned, you'll draw things out, you will spend more time thinking than you would in actually vetting that kind of idea and making those steps forward. So you alluded to making that person who hired you successful as well. You have to take action to get there. You can't just have ideas you can't just present all the time. To, you know the execs or your manager and say, here's what I'm thinking, they want results, because that's why they're investing dollars into the headcount. And they want to legitimately see it happen in real time making it work. So you mentioned those, those 90 days. So what we've talked about on the podcast so far has focused on, you know, getting your bearings, figure out where you're going to focus. And then, of course craft what that outreach would look like. So when we start thinking about those actions that you take to make those steps forward and validate those ideas, what would you say? Let's say it's, I'm, you know, two to three weeks into my, my role, I've developed my ideal partner profile, for the most part, like I have an MVP, where would you recommend someone focuses their efforts to, you know, achieve X in the next 90 days? What are your thoughts on those actions, those firing actions that they should take? Yeah,
Justin Zimmerman 11:07
so I feel like a lot of results are like reverse engineer trouble, right. And so you can start with like, a clearer idea. And then you can work your way back. And so really, depending on what data information is available inside the company, I'll give kind of two quick versions. So number one, like I think the the Nexus, the origin, the big functional fulcrum point in, in in a lot of SAS businesses is the onboarding, right. And so that's where if someone's made a decision, they found you, and now they're coming on board, and this is kind of the make or break moment, and there's a lot of data and interaction. This is where the rules in these product, lead marketing lead companies. This is where a lot of like, the interaction actually starts to happen. You know, there's, the sales process really begins at the trial conversion, or in the trial conversion stage. And so for me, like, depending on the systems available in your company, you have one of two options, you can do the direct and you can do the proxy. Some companies are already going to have like the data information available, where you can tap into ask questions, see available things and other integrations that they're using. And then you can then reverse engineer, this is what I've done. And there's an article on crossbeam on this process. If you type in my name, and crossbeam, I think a couple of things will come up. And it's basically my process my process, partner prospecting methodology based on existing customers. And this is how I've gotten partnerships and integrations and the whole thing done, where you just literally like, systematically in the onboarding process, find out what apps people are already. And also using in conjunction with theirs, you'll see a lot of overlap and either the name of the apps or the category of apps. And then what I've done is one of two things, I've called up the people who have replied and done a quick video with them. And then I've used that video, and I've then reached out to the CEO, I've signed up for the company's newsletter list, I've actually taken a trial, I've gone to their LinkedIn page, and I've direct message them and in mailed them. Because I never know which one is going to work, I'll use a site like Apollo AI, or Lucia to scrape the contact information of anybody with the word marketing partner, and founder, and I'll say, Hey, what's up, we've got this, we got this client, and we have these clients that are just saying your name all the time, I think we need to do something. And then you, you know, using the script, you know, I'll throw together a two minute, little video with lumen D script with the video from the customer and customers saying how much they love our products together. And for me, that's like, you know, really, really like Account Based Marketing, but partner based account marketing, that opens the door to partnerships and integrations and you know, long term and still paying dividends to this day sounds like a lot of work. But I'll tell you that upfront effort and lift shows like, Hey, you actually you know, our customers, and you're going to be someone who's going to who's going to take action, and you're already creating content on our behalf and interviewing our CO customers. And so it's just a good leading indicator of like, this is someone who will hustle, get things done, make outreach, create content, and show up and no one else is going to do that. And so when you find a great partner, that's the way that I've gone out and then take an action, create a content, build partnerships. And in I would say three weeks, right, like from discovery of customer to recording, interview and sent and then conversation around integrations, boom, you know, like that. And you just repeat that process over and over again, in your onboarding campaign, you can go look that crossbeam article up. This is a lot of detailed stuff in there, screenshots and everything of what I've used. And then there's also the proxy method I mentioned. So if you don't have access to your customer, to those systems, and it's just kind of a pain in the butt. Well, you do have the people who are looking at that stuff every single day. And so you have your sales team, your success team, your support teams, you know, building teams, and then you can ask similar questions of them of customers and I've done the same thing as well, where I asked the support and say Access Manager, you know, who's a great customer? And what do they use? And can you find out, make introductions for me and then boom, you can use your the people instead of the process to help drive that next step and attain similar results.
Will Taylor 15:14
That's, that is amazing. So what I want to really focus in on there and why it works is because you're not only showing that you already see the partnership is valuable by doing that work. And then when you do that outreach, it's like, it is very hard for our partner to say, No, I don't want to entertain that conversation. And that's exactly how you want the value prop to be you want it to be so hard for them to say no, that they would be missing an opportunity if they actually did say no. And the way that you're building that story is you're gathering that data, like you mentioned, but it's all very tactical and hands on. And that will not only inform you as a partner person, who is going to need to refine your messaging over time, where you're getting your hands on what the customers really understand what their challenges are. And you know what potential partners could solve those challenges. So your understanding increases, but you have that real qualitative data that you can use to then say, hey, partner, this is exactly why we should do activities together, this is why we should partner. And so you know, we should talk. And if I received a message like that, I would think just like you described, Justin, I would think, Wow, this person's going to put effort into our partnership. Wow, they did a lot of research. While I see the value, it's it's crystal clear, because they did the research upfront. And what's great is when you are starting out, going from that zero to 90, you want to have the focus, you want to not go to 100 Partners necessarily and say, Hey, let's have a conversation, then you're in meetings all day. Instead, you want to go really deep with you know, a handful of partners so that you can really learn. And that also puts that best foot forward where, like you mentioned going back to making that, that manager famous as well, you build an immediate, powerful relationship with this organization. And, you know, even if there isn't an extensive long term partnership that comes from it in terms of like a strategic, really deep relationship, those people you can likely call on for something in the future as well. Because you'll probably do some smaller programs, and then you'll have those small wins. And that upfront initial impression will, like I said, have that wow factor.
Justin Zimmerman 17:46
You're so right about that last point is like, you know, you get a, I'll tell you the the response rate on those videos, when they're targeted, and those messages are targeted, close to 75%. Now, those deals that come from it, you know, they probably are closer to like maybe 30% of them turn into something, which is still pretty good. But then I have instances where like the the yield turned into nothing, or not nothing, it didn't turn into what I wanted it to because they were working on something similar, and it was on the roadmap. But that person I've stayed in touch with over the last year or so. And he's introduced me to like amazing groups of people. He's put me in touch with like top other podcasters and other partner people. In fact, you know, we're gonna be working on something kind of on a side project together because of that, and so he's you know, super influential, and all these great things, and you just never know, and so always put your best foot forward is never a bad strategy.
Will Taylor 18:43
I love it. And I think this harkens back to something most of us learn early in life where first impressions matter, people remember that first impression of you. And the same goes for your business interactions. If you have that wow factor. Like Justin mentioned, it could be a business partner for different venture in the future or, you know, maybe it's a friend or maybe they make introductions for you in the future as well. Instead of, of course, let's compare it to the complete opposite where generic message, no message of value, focus on just your company and what you care about. No one's going to really remember that and that first impression won't stick. And, you know, the difference is clear. So in In summary, Justin, I would love for maybe the one to three tactical tips. I know we talked about a lot today. But the 123 tactical tips that let's say, I'm like, wow, what Justin just said is amazing. How do I actually start that? What is you know, step one, and what is step two that someone could implement the day after they hear this or depending on when you listen to it the same day? Yeah, yeah,
Justin Zimmerman 19:59
sure. So I mean, step one is a little bit of ICP MVP work. And so you got to have some bearing around who your most valuable customers are. So you know, like, whose problems and who's what are the most valuable people to solve problems for. And so like, make sure you have some inkling, some idea, some interviews with companies or people inside your company to get a bearing for that, then step two, I want you to have an idea of who those people are, whether it's via proxy, or some sort of direct process action, get clarity on what those other apps integrations are that those top customers are using. And so like I said, you can do surveys, you can tap right into the vein of the onboarding sequence and work with them, they just asked a couple of key quick questions like what other what other apps are essential to, you're using with us something like that. And you can go to that crossbeam article and see the direct copy that I've written for that process. Then three, once you have that, interview, a customer interview, what app, what they're saying what they like, and you'll have a little quick case study using like the script to edit it up and chop out like those really key one to two minute pieces and parts number step three or four, go to all the apps either in that category, or directly to that company, and sign up for their site, get on their email sequence, go to LinkedIn, DM them, and then introduce yourself and say, hey, it looks like we have some common customers or common use cases, I created this video that I think will allow us to get a clearer visibility on an opportunity, something like that love to connect soon, blah, blah, blah, and you'll show the video and then three, you'll be in a position to have some meetings with I would say pre qualified and not qualified, but pre qualified partners who fit in the app stack of solutions that your best, most valuable customers would be willing to want us. And then you'll be on your way to go to market motions and figuring out calendars and schedules. And so like I say, within two to three weeks, you could go through that process, have a couple of really strong meetings, get clear on where people are and say, Hey, like it. And because webinars are typically the first go to market motion, one of the better, like lead gen versions that are visible and can make people look good, because then they say, Hey, we did a webinar with so and so. Okay, good. You know, look, put a tentative time in your calendar. And so before you get on those meetings and calls, align with your marketing team, if you're not the marketing team, and just say, hey, I need to make a pitch. And I want to be able to at the end of this, you know, have one webinar booked at the end of the 90 days with a super solid partner. And we'll figure out the rest as we go. And that's okay to say to you, let me put it out there. Like, you know, everybody knows nobody's perfect and you try to be perfect and buttoned up, you're going to be holding yourself back from like, getting people into motion from and that's really kind of the most important thing. And so set a date work towards it, everybody's aware that, you know, nothing's perfect the first time around, and it's better to have a deadline to work towards. And I would say that'd be your you know, go to market 90 Day strategy.
Will Taylor 22:58
That's amazing. So if you were taking notes, hopefully you were taking them very fast. But don't worry, we will of course do a summary as well. listen back to it. Reach out to Justin if you need help. Justin, any final words? You know what you're working on? Where they can find you where they can connect with you
Justin Zimmerman 23:18
Kiko Do you have anything you want to say about that? No. Okay. Yeah, so yeah, if you go on LinkedIn, I'm pretty much there every single day just writing and sharing my thoughts and ideas on things that I'm doing with my partners to generate leads sales and new partnerships. You can find me there. I've also started doing a monthly meetup on one partner playbooks.com. And so that's my site. That's where I'll be sharing in depth beyond what you can see on LinkedIn. And so just kind of a little tiny mini celebration today I hit the 100th subscriber today of people who are in the partnerships, very nice CEOs. And yeah, thank you, CEOs, partnership people, I'm surprised I'm blown away that like, I put a little tiny slice of hey, I'm doing this year and people are eating it up. And so the end of this week, I'm sorry, at the end of this month, I've got a dialing in all the way back and I'll wrap it up with this by saying the person who I reached out to and did that whole process with but didn't turn into a deal. We stayed in touch over the last year, he's actually going to be the next guest talking about how he and design pickle came up with a a basically an agency services slash tech partnership where they work together and generated like 50,000 unique views hundreds of signups and trials. And so we're gonna get specifically into that playbook. And he's going to deconstruct what he did, how they came together. And so looking forward to that in a couple of weeks.
Will Taylor 24:44
Amazing. This is exactly why you were the person for this episode. So thank you so much, Justin, and Tom, take us home.
Tom Burgess 24:52
Yeah, yeah, I think one of the just to kind of recap this one of the things that stuck out to me is, you know, partner people are not coming To get away with just being cold outreach, cold, cold, kind of like that sales like spray and pray, do your homework, spend a little bit of time because it will pay off in the end and and also you just come at it from a much more technically sound front where you're you're actually wanting them to their business you want to park because you know that your app plus theirs or your app plus their business and another app will work together in tandem and do exactly we needed to So Justin, really appreciate this. I hope our audience gets at least one not even more than more than one probably like three or four tidbits out of this. And yes, thank you all for listening. We will catch you guys next time.