PartnerHacker Principles: They're Not Your Accounts - Daniel Lancioni

The PartnerHacker Principles are the principles we live by. They form the foundation on which we navigate the partnership ecosystem.

We met up with Daniel Lancioni of Reveal to talk about the PartnerHacker principle: they're not your accounts.

You need to build trust and provide value to stay involved with your partner accounts. Realize you can be kicked out of an account at any time.

Instead of thinking that you own the account, start thinking about how you can give massive value to maintain your welcome in the account.

Below are the highlights from our interview with Daniel.

This is the 8th article in our series exploring the PartnerHacker Principles. You can read more about the other principles here:

They're not your accounts

In the real world, no one owns an account. It's everyone's job, it's every partner's job to help win that account and break into that account. – Daniel Lancioni

Partners need to stop thinking that they own an account.

You need to start looking at the account as if you're renting it. You're just renting space and you're allowed to stay there as long as you maintain a good relationship with the account.

Connect to nodes of trust

The more nodes you unlock, the bigger your network, the more conversations you have, the more you go, the higher your win rate, it's a much better way of looking at winning business. – Daniel Lancioni

When you are connected to more nodes of trust in the ecosystem, you open up opportunities. The trust you build flows outward as you create positive experiences with your partners.

Start the reciprocity flywheel

Without reciprocity, without giving and receiving – the ultimate negative is that the person who's the account owner that doesn't help the partner, and is unfortunately not ever going to be helped by that partner. – Daniel Lancioni

If you're not committed to giving, you're less likely to break into new areas of the ecosystem. Be willing to help partners, and partners will help you in return.

It's a buyer's world

If you don't make your account feel special, then guess what? They'll go to someone else who makes them feel special, who makes them feel loved, who makes them feel like they have power, who makes them feel like they're valuable. – Daniel Lancioni

Partners are people. They don't want to be treated like just an account.

Give partners a first-class experience. Make them feel special. Partners will take notice and navigate across the ecosystem to work with you.

Full transcript:

Daniel Lancioni  0:02
Get comfortable with me recording perhaps should have done that that should have been a disclaimer at the start.

Will Taylor  0:10
I think the easiest thing is just to start by telling me about, they're not your accounts, what does that mean to you? Yeah, so

Daniel Lancioni  0:39
they're not your accounts to me means you know, in Salesforce or any CRM, there is always an account owner allocated to a particular account. In some businesses, it's an AE and some businesses, it's the depending on the stage of the company, it's a CSM, or it's an SDR depends where it sits in the funnel. And there's this thought process in a business that it's only that account owner who can look after that account or like speak to that account, and no one else can, can be involved. But as we know, in the world of go to market, there is so many people that are required to open up an account to break into it. So if you're just being very single threaded, and it's one account executive owning everything and not, you know, not engaging the partners, the the marketing team that kind of engaged with an account, then their likelihood of breaking into that account is is very, very small. So for me, account ownership is something that I guess it's necessary for like a Salesforce standpoint, or a CRM standpoint to just have an account owner. But in the real world, no one owns an account. It's everyone's job, it's every partners job to help win that account and break into that account.

Will Taylor  1:57
So what are some of the negative connotations or like negative behaviors that come from that where people will say, you know, that's my account, you can't touch it, or you can't talk to them? What are some of those negative behaviors that then results from that, and then, of course, the consequences.

Daniel Lancioni  2:13
So the biggest negative behavior will be a lack of willingness to help partners or partners to help you. So if you're an A, and you own an account in Salesforce, and a partner is asking for an introduction to an account, and he goes, No, I'm not going to do that. That's my account, no one else can speak to that account, then guess what the partner isn't going to help that he who also has to break into other accounts, they're not going to help them break into there. So without reciprocity, without kind of giving and receiving the ultimate negative is that the person who's the account owner that doesn't help the partner is unfortunately not ever going to be helped by that partner for them to hit their goals, they're less likely to hit quota, they're less likely to get paid commission, they're more likely to be put on performance plans. So those are the kinds of second order consequences of having that real account ownership and not being willing to, to introduce or bring other people into accounts.

Will Taylor  3:16
And what do you think for the client? What is the consequence for the client of the people that they're working with at one company, perceiving them as their account? What does that do for the client in your mind, in terms of negative consequence,

Daniel Lancioni  3:32
negative consequence for the client is that the person who thinks they only account they're not thinking about the client, holistically, they're only thinking about the client's needs correlating to your own solution. So if you're in a, let's say, sales loft, and you think you own that account, and all that client is allowed to do is is, you know, outreaching sequences through SalesLoft. But actually, there's this whole other sales tech and Mar tech stack that might be of interest to that customer, then you're ultimately not being that champion, that Guiding Light, that person that can help them think bigger than just your own out bounding solution and think about how it fits into a much broader ecosystem, you position yourself as someone with knowledge versus just kind of being a salesperson. And as we know, from the the martech replacement survey, like the biggest reason why companies are shifting from one solution to another is its lack of interoperability with other solutions. So if you're not pushing integrations, to your, to your prospects or to your customers, because you own that account, then guess what they're going to churn to the business that does offer them those integrations.

Will Taylor  4:48
And so, for focusing on the buyers, some more it's like, what's the sentiment? Let's say I am putting myself in the shoes of the buyer. If I what happens when I feel like I'm an account, or if I feel like I'm in a funnel or a part of a list, and perhaps I even consciously know about it. What's the effect there in terms of the engagement with the business? How does it influence that?

Daniel Lancioni  5:15
Maybe rephrase that question a little bit for me. Well,

Will Taylor  5:17
yeah. So if I'm a buyer, and I feel like I'm, you know, just a part of the list or in a funnel, what does that then do for my level of trust with a company, by that perception, you know, I'm just a part of an account list, whether that's prospect or a customer, what does that do for the buyer in terms of their perception of the business when they are conscious of that.

Daniel Lancioni  5:49
So if you don't just treat it like an account, we don't feel very special or love, or looked after, if you're just receiving the same content as everyone else, you're receiving the same approach as everyone else, you just feel like, you're another another number. I was listening to a really good podcast that Alex buckles from forecast double did with the team over at sales hacker and he spoke about, you know how the power of buying is shifting to the buyer, it's more of a buyer world versus a seller world. And if you don't make your account, feel like a buyer feel special, then guess what they'll go to someone else who makes them feel special, he makes them feel loved, he makes them feel like they have power, who makes them feel like they're valuable. So ultimately, that's going to, if you just treat everyone like an account and list, your comps isn't going to be personalized, and the buyer who is the real power holder isn't going to feel special.

Will Taylor  6:52
And so with all of this, how should we perceive accounts instead? You know, instead of they're assigned to a specific person, or a part of a specific list, how can we make that change in how we perceive them? How should we be perceiving accounts instead?

Daniel Lancioni  7:13
Yeah, I really like Jared and Isaac, the front part of the hacker thought process around this that like every company is a node in a network. And that's the way I think like, they, they did a really cool podcast with James courier. And he spoke about network bonding theory of how your how your node connects distance and size of that node to different companies. And if you think about everything has a big network, you can then go right well, there's there's, there's numerous ways you can take it, you can go, I know this individual, this person is part of this really big network. And I've already got access to parts of that network through some of my other partners that are connected to that network. And then as soon as you have a positive conversation or a positive moment with that node, and you unlock it, then you and then lock all the other connectors to all the other nodes that exist. And that creates even more buying or selling or opportunities, or just chances to have conversations with other companies. And we do a lot of that here at reveal. Like we look obviously, because we're in a highly networked business, but we are looking at, yes, if we want a piece of business, that's great from an IRR perspective. But actually, if you look at that piece of business, and how it's connected to a much bigger ecosystem, that completely changes the value of that deal, versus it just being worth the dollars that are on a piece of paper. So moving from just like an account list, which is like a very like, or a funnel, which is like very like doo doo doo doo doo, it goes down one way, you're, you know, no, like nodes are connected to all of these other different nodes. And the more nodes you unlock, the bigger your network, the more conversations you have, the more you go, the higher your win rate, it's a much better way of looking at winning business.

Will Taylor  9:01
I like that because it's not like the nodes are not just your partners, the nodes are also your clients, because clients, like you mentioned, they have the power, they make referrals, they make contract changes. So they are just as important as any other business in the node network. And that's, that's interesting. So instead of, you know, an account in a list that might be in some form of funnel, it's an entity that is in a node network that, like you mentioned, the interactions can have a spreading effect. And so

Daniel Lancioni  9:38
if you're able to score your accounts based on that node network creates a really cool way to look at. I don't want to go back to account lists, but it goes back to like goes it creates a really cool way to one think about where you prioritize your time as a business. And then secondly, like what do you actually say to that company when they pick up the phone and speak to you at the end because if you If you've created a, you know, a node or a connector school for your company, you can have far more interesting conversations with companies with those higher connector scores, the ones down at the bottom, you can build your entire territory list around those unknown going back into account and list type frameworks. But you know what I mean?

Will Taylor  10:20
That's, I had never thought of that before. It's like, no network scoring.

Daniel Lancioni  10:26
The Kevin Bacon numbers, you remember the Kevin Bacon number like the did you ever advocate? It was like, supposedly, every actor can be traced to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon like they've worked with. So it was like, you could type in any actor? And then it would tell you like, yeah, you know, Jennifer Aniston is the fourth connection of Kevin Bacon. So it's like that? What's that Kevin Bacon number for your business? If you will?

Will Taylor  10:53
Yeah, that's really cool. That's actually giving me ideas of how I can go about the scoring. And this might be off topic now. But I think we can still riff on it, the idea of that node network scoring versus like account or lead scoring, what are some of the parameters that you're thinking of, either that you've actually actioned or that you think would be valuable to keep in mind, and I'll just riff on some ideas that I'm having right now, where it's like, proximity could be once like, how closely related is your partner or, you know, client to the things that you talk about. So, you know, if your partner tech, and it's another partner tech, you're probably pretty close in proximity. And then you know, another degree away could be, you know, sales tech, so that could be something to consider. And then obviously, like, organization, size, organization reach, and then perhaps even something like the quality of customer engagement that that company gets both from a partner perspective, but then even from a client perspective, because if they have really engaged clients, then like, that could potentially become a partner based on like, their proximity scoring. So what in your mind? Are some of the parameters that can be used to try and navigate that node network to have that scoring?

Daniel Lancioni  12:16
Kind of you kind of answered the question a bit yourself. So exactly that like your, your ideal persona that you sell to, like, what other tech do they buy, like, what's what do they kind of control and get involved in, that's your kind of, for proximity standpoint, that's the closest for you. And then you'll have the tangential stuff beyond that, as well. So when I worked at braze, it was a marketing automation company. So normally, people would buy like a marketing automation software alongside a customer data platform or something along those lines, something that would allow them to orchestrate data into braze. So that was kind of your first degree of connection, your next degree of connection, maybe one step away was an analytic suite, to kind of look at the braised data, then maybe another step along was infrastructure. So like, how does it get into, like a big query or redshift data warehouse or something along those lines. So each of those were, you know, we look at them in different ways. Like if one of our Customer Data Platform partners was was running a piece of business, we knew that that was probably a good time. Whereas if it was an analytics business, maybe it's a bit less connected, but still of interest for us. So that's kind of how we look at the proximity piece. But also, you want to look at things like if you can, who are customers of your customers, who are like customers of your strategic accounts, who are prospects of your customers, like, we're always thinking about this from just a partner only layer, but actually, the the nodes are, who are the analysts that are speaking to that customer, if they're a tech company to advise them on like, where they fit in grid. And so all these different companies exist in the ecosystem. And I think we're, you know, at the moment, I'm only really looking at the partner space, but you could be looking at so many different ways. I think strength of relationship is quite hard to measure, unless you jump on a call with a partner or a customer be like How well do you know this person? Or have they done a press release with this person, individually, but I am seeing some companies out there like there's there's a CRM called affinity which a lot of VCs use, and you can connect your Google data or your your Gmail or G calendar to that. And it will score like the strength of the relationship that you have based on the number of interactions. There's a revenue intelligence platform called EdgeStar. They're headquartered in London. They do something similar, where they try to score like how strong your relationship is with a particular contact. And you could share that with a partner for example, in an automated fashion through through a platform like reveal, so I think have the strength of the connection that with the individual who might be of interest to you still hasn't quite like, it's not as easy to get hold of. But in the meantime, that kind of distance from the node that proximity that's a bit easier to work with. And that's what I use mostly today.

Will Taylor  15:18
Yeah. Very interesting. And so thinking of like bringing it back to the clients, you could do all of those things. And then also, I guess how a client is situated in the node network is based on their engagements versus like, what they offer. And so it's like, are they engaging with partners A, B, and C that are, you know, relatively close in proximity, which then makes that client or that prospect close in proximity as well. I'm wondering if how that could be mapped or scored? Obviously, with the strength of the relationship? I think that's one of them. And then, yeah, my mind is going a million miles. Right now where I'm,

Daniel Lancioni  16:10
yeah, it's a good, that's a good place to be because we're like we're starting to touch touch the surface of this a bit here, obviously, with our own product. But the fact of the matter is, like the Chief Sales Officer report from Gartner says that, you know, the average buyer is only spending 5% of their total time talking to the seller. And there's 95% of that time that's being used elsewhere. And what are the the nodes in that network that you can be using to accumulate as much of that other 95% of the time, it could be a partner, it could be a friend of that customer, it could be could be a marketing event, it could be a ton of different things like Jamie McBain always talks about the 28 touch points. So how do you just use up as much of that other 95% time as physically possible, and the only way to do that is to really think about your your future customer, your thoughts, your future prospects as a node in a network.

Will Taylor  17:12
And that's exactly why they're, they are not your accounts, because they're not wanting to spend that time talking to your sales team. They're, they're engaging with, you know, those 28 Other organizations or individuals to make a decision. Yeah, I just had the thought it would be very cool to see. I've seen like, I don't know, if there are very accurate descriptions, or depictions of node networks, but I've seen somewhere it's like, three competitive technologies. And then it visualizes the, how they are situated in the ecosystem. And, you know, one may have a bunch of clients that are super loyal, but they don't really branch out into the rest of the ecosystem. And so they're creating like an echo chamber. But then there's another one, that's, yeah, and there's another one that's, like a super node, and kind of like, everyone's engaging with them. And then another one is like off to the side. But you know, kind of close, it'd be really cool to. And maybe this is like very future state for actual technology. But like, it'd be cool to see, you know, based on all of the overlaps, it could visualize the actual proximity, where if I'm, you know, a partner person, or maybe even an account executive, and I'm looking, where should I spend most of my time? I think that could help visualize where, you know, all of these clients are congregating, you know, between these five technologies, and maybe we have a good relationship with three or four. It's almost like the mapping of the connection of clients or prospects with the partners, but also the partners of your partners. And so it's kind of like, I don't know if this would be like that second party data type thing, where it's like, you have, let's say, five technologies surrounding like a cluster, then it's like, oh, well, why don't we really focus there. And it could even be like, you click on it, and then, you know, there chose account details, where it's almost like, I know, discover. org has some of this data where it lists you know, some of the technologies that an organization uses. I think it's just kind of like self reported data or mostly public companies. And so like mapping that I think would be important because like, if I'm just looking at a spreadsheet or a list in Salesforce, it's not really helpful for me to show how I can prioritize unless if there's some Scoring Matrix, but if there's like the actual visit visualization of, you know, client here has three technologies, but then they by the fourth Technology, and then it's like, it kind of shifts them into this area. That would be really cool. And then I just had the thought of like, those movements could also be like, a notification, like, hey, here are the accounts that most recently partnered or contracted with one of your partners that also contract with, you know, three of your other partners, you should, you know, get in on that kind of thing. And, you know, deliver that joint value proposition that would be really interesting. Because, yeah, if I'm thinking about how I can guide my efforts, I would have, okay, I know where they're congregating. But then I would also know the movements in that network as well. And that would be exceptionally powerful. And I wonder, too much data,

Daniel Lancioni  20:46
that if you, you know, you look at, let's take two big software companies that have like freemium type products, if they were account mapping with each other, the list would be in the hundreds of 1000s of companies that overlap. And, and that's great. It shows like there's a, there's a, kind of a, the node is large, like it's, it's, there's a there's a lot of stuff that can be done, but you can't do a lot with that 100,000 Because it's there's too much like, yeah, you can, you can bang it through some automation, but then you're treating it like an account, you're back in this account conversation versus it being something that's not new, you're not looking at it as a node in the network. But if you're able to then feed that back and say, well, actually, that 100,000 needs about 100 most critical right now based on this node score that we give to this account, keep using the word account missionary using the word vino, anything that we give to this node in the network like these, the 100 most powerful nodes that we should go for and like that, maybe that's just for one ad, they're like, Wow, that's, that's very cool. And then you go right, you can extrapolate that further out to like the VP of sales in an organization, right? Well, these are the 1000 2000 most powerful nodes that I should be focusing on right now. And I've got like 1020 A's that I can I can allocate out, so maybe we should focus entirely on those ones to begin with, before we, we just create a target account list based on finger in the air sort of stuff. So I think, I think second party data is, is fantastic, because it's just massive, and it's rich. But there's a lot that can be done with it to really refine it to what's most valuable right now.

Will Taylor  22:32
Oh, I hope that comes in the future, because that will be really good for buyers as well. And there's almost like, an incentivization for those buyers to then obviously buy because they would be getting so much value in especially if like a story can be told about that. But then also, you know, if I'm a buyer already in the network, then it's like, I could feel like I'm more well taken care of, especially if there's already like a cluster in that in that node network. And then I think just naturally, buyers will organize themselves and like situate themselves. And then it should be the companies that are like really trying to move to where's that natural congregation. So like, let's say you have a really good partner, but then they just kind of like stagnate as a business in terms of innovation. And then you know, a new competitor comes around, and you may want to partner with them. It should be like, instead of buyers going to this existing area where you know, there's this partnership, and this business is here. And it's like firmly in its place. Instead, buyers are going to naturally congregate over to you know, this more innovative company. And partners should be the ones moving with them as well versus the like come to us kind of thing. And so even like those movements would be interesting. So I'm I'm think I'm visualizing in my head, like this node network of all these moving nodes that are like slowly moving and like the bigger nodes that are the companies those are even more slowly moving between, you know, they're partners and whatnot. And it's all like, everything's moving and but there's still those clusters. And I think that's exactly the representation of like the buying ecosystem is, you know, I'm a buyer here, but then like, I go to this community to engage. So like, maybe I'm moving within a specific area, but I'm still moving and like maybe I all of the buyers move to the community at a specific time because something happens in the market. So all the companies should go there if they're wanting, you know, to capture buying intent as well.

Daniel Lancioni  24:49
Exactly. And I think the whole thing makes the life of the buyer so much easier. Like let's say you're a Chief Digital Officer at a CPG brand and you're like right I'm, you know, I need to conduct a marketing automation platform review a digital analytics review a CDP review, like a bunch of solutions, which you can either buy in one place or have other solutions that will join together, like what's a better buying experience for that? See Chief Digital Officer to like, get like to run four different separate RFPs to loads of different companies, or to have like a group of four partners that are heavily linked together and be like, Oh, by the way, you can buy these four disparate solutions. And out of the box, you get this incredible integration because we understand the power of the network of our businesses being together. And also you get a discounted price with it all being all being merged together as one as one solution as one offer. So it's like, the node approach doesn't just impact the seller trying to navigate the buyer, but it also really helps the buyer navigate the sellers and bring them together and understand how they add value together.

Will Taylor  26:02
Amazing. Well, I'm glad all of that was recorded. That was that was a great thought exercise. Good. And we're up on time.

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