Howdy Partners #15: Your Partner Team Tech Stack

Howdy Partners #15: Your Partner Team Tech Stack

Multiple Contributors 29 min

Technology is everywhere; heck, you may even be on a partner team that SELLS TECHNOLOGY!!

But as you may know the tech world, you may not know what technologies you need in your stack to scale partnerships. From PRM’s to CRM’s and everything in between, join the fellas as they discuss tech pieces that are critical to your success, a phased approach to utilizing and implementing, and how to know what you need and when.

3 key takeaways

  1. Technology should enhance, rather than complicate, the partnership process.
  2. Find the balance between too much and too little technology.
  3. It is essential to have a plan for integrating new technology into the organization.
  4. Make sure you consider the costs and resources required to implement a new technology, and offer the right training and support.
  5. A few partner techs and what they do:
  6. PRMs (partner relationship management software) can be helpful for managing partner relationships.
  7. CRM (customer relationship management software) can help with lead tracking and sales pipeline management.
  8. Marketing automation software can help with lead generation and email marketing.
  9. Partner portals can provide a centralized location for resources and communication.

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Full transcript:

Tom Burgess 00:20

Howdy partners, welcome back. Another fun-filled action-packed week of work. I’ve got myself I’ve got will actually have a special guest, my son PJ, who turns one today Happy Birthday PJ. But he’s down here with me. So I apologize for any baby talk. But he’s, he is a, he’s an intern, let’s just put it that way. And today, we got a great episode, we’re going to talk about partner technology or just technology in general, and what you need to think about from a partnership lens, you know, what that means, like phases? Tech, that tech that will work for you tech, that that can sometimes be overkill. So we’ll I want to just briefly get your thoughts like, what’s, let’s think about the technology that we know, you absolutely need. And then let’s talk about some of like, the common pitfalls that you need to be thinking about from day one. And there’s the constant theme of you don’t need another piece of technology. And you know, software’s eating the world. And it does get confusing, because I mean, if you’ve seen Jay McBain ins, landscape of all the technologies, there’s, you know, all these different categories, and so many different brands, and how do you navigate it all, you know, if you’re a first time partner manager, or first time program manager, and or the program is not new at your company, it’s like, do I need all these, which ones do I need? So I think it is really important to be aware of the tech fatigue that honestly, probably most organizations are facing. But the reason that you would care about this as a partner manager is because your partners might be engaging with this technology as well. And that can give them that fatigue. And it’s a lot different when they get fatigued versus your team because it looks bad on the relationship, or they think of that fatigue when they think of you and you don’t want that. So there is a time and a place for all of the technologies in the partner tech space. But it depends on your organization and the maturity of your program. And so

Will Taylor 02:34

the idea, when you think about technology, is of course, how does it drive value for our partners? And how does it help the program to evolve into that next stage? And we’ll be talking about, you know, the different phases that you can think of, and some of the key pieces of technology. But yeah, tech fatigue, very real, Tom, from being a partner, on the other side, as an agency individual. Tell us about that experience? What did it make you feel with the tech fatigue? And how did you try and navigate it? And how did it even influence the relationships that you had?

Tom Burgess 03:13

Yeah, I think so. I mean, regardless of whether you’re an agency partner, your tech partner II, you already use a bunch of tech at that organization. So, you know, like, part of part of what we’re talking about from like, a tech fatigue awareness standpoint is, one understand your internal technology stack, how, you know, the sales team uses something like, I don’t know, chili, Piper SalesLoft, whatever it might be. But then you it’s, you’re hyper aware from the technology that you put in front of a partner. And when I was on the agency side, honestly, like, actually, I had a pretty tech fatigue lists experience. Like I think this was the time when PRMS were becoming a thing, you know, I had experience with with going into all bound, and what I would, what I would say is that, to me, the most important aspect is Do I have? Do I have an entry point or do I have a path to submit lead information to then make the the partner team aware as to what’s coming, giving them as much information to set their sales team up myself up to like, put our best foot forward in front of the prospects to me that is that that is that is critical piece number one. Now, if you fast forward to then being on the partnership side, that’s that’s still from a partnership lens. The most important piece is Can I can I have a piece of technology like a PRM that should honestly be like the central point of anything you have? Do I have an avenue for our partners to eat? easily submit and pass through lead information that then you know, if your sink, integrations, whatever it may be, actively notifies and provides the best layer of support for myself, you know, Partner Manager, Cam, whoever it may be and the sales team, more importantly, to then act on that lead accordingly. And it’s funny, like, I think when I was on the agency side, like, I remember being an all bound, like I focused on the deal registration area, I would say 90% of the time, there were educational materials, there were resources. Me Maybe I was just naive and didn’t access those. But we’ll get into that, to me deal. Registration is important. And then as we fast forward, like we’ll talk about closing that loop, want to get your thoughts on that piece?

Will Taylor 05:51

Yeah, that brings up an interesting thought where you’re mentioning, like, there was the enablement area in the platform, but you perhaps maybe didn’t use it as much. And I think that’s a really important piece. Because just because you buy technology, doesn’t mean it’s going to be used, you have to constantly get exposure to it. And you have to help build the habit of using it as well, especially, you know, not just for your own internal team, but for your partners. So, you know, if they say, Hey, I have this lead, and you go, okay, great, and then you submit it for them, then it doesn’t help to build the habit of actually engaging with things that you’ve purchased. And so what I think a lot of people think of when they think of technology, they think, set it and forget it, instead of, you know, building it as part of the culture of the relationship that you have with that partner. And so there has to be some level of strategic, like strategy around, how do we enable our partners on this technology and actually get them involved on this, because it is not a set it and forget it, they are going to, you know, default to what they are used to which if you didn’t have technology before, it’ll be not using technology.

Tom Burgess 07:11

Yeah, and you and you and I know that like when we were launching with partner stack, like, it’s almost more important to train your partners on how to use this tool to be effective. And just to go back, like, just because there was maybe educational materials available to me in a PRM. And I know, I claimed that, you know, like the the deal registration aspect is clearly the most important. Once again, I’m going to I’m going to touch on P RMS, we’re very new at the time. And and the other thing that it really points to is that as you start to delineate your programs, like you know, in some cases you’re gonna have, you’re gonna have the programs where you can actively manage enable, and scale partners, you know, your top two your partners that are driving a lot of the value, you’re also going to have some semblance of like self serve self scalability. And I think that’s where the the educational materials really come in handy is when they don’t have live partner experts. How are they? How are they learning about product updates? How are they learning about positioning? And that’s where it really comes in handy.

Will Taylor 08:19

Yeah, I completely agree. And so to wrap that piece up, like the bare minimum that I think you should consider with technology is how does it first help you track the customer journey and cover the more tedious administrative things. So for example, that leads lead submission, it’s administrative, and it’s also related to that customer journey. Once you’re able to track that data and start influencing, you know, okay, this partner is submitting a lot of leads, I should lean into that partnership or, you know, the leads that this other partner submitted, they, you know, sit there for 90 days, and nothing really happened. So maybe those leads aren’t as high quality, that data is going to be exceptionally valuable. And then the time that you save for things like payouts, I can tell you that once you start getting into the weeds of payouts, which I have to manage, it is it’s painful. And you’re also probably not like a finance person. And you do have to start learning the finance piece and engaging with them. And it’s just a lot of back and forth that is not necessary when there are tools that can help manage that. So bare minimum, eliminate the low value administrative tasks as it comes to, you know, payouts and then make sure you’re able to capture that data so that you can be informed as you continue to progress your program as well for that, yeah. You

Tom Burgess 09:41

almost get your like accounting certification, as you have to be so closely tied and I guess like one thing to really consider and there’s it’s hard to put like a it’s it’s hard to not put equal gravity on building Bill laying around a PRM, where like you’re trying to turn that into, like the one true source for partners to submit leads get paid out, you know, like get reporting, go through certifications, get get communications, etc. Like, that’s the pipe dream. But almost more importantly, and actually as your if you’re in the process of vetting out a partner portal or like a partner, PRN, it’s really important based on your CRM, your finance system, you know, where your products house to have a very close knit, closed loop solution that can accurately push and sync back to that PRM. Like we won’t, we won’t really go into like the integrations and the syncing capabilities. But that’s, that is a must have, because you will feel you will feel the burn and the side effects. On top of that make a really good relationship with finance, if you

Will Taylor 10:51

don’t, yeah, 100%. And so that’s where, you know, when we think about nice to haves, we were talking about, you know, resources, mass communications, things like certifications, I would say those, if you’re doing an evaluation should be lower on the priority list. Again, depending on the size of your program, if you’re a pretty well established program, you’ll probably need to consider that because you probably already have those things developed. But let’s say you know, you’re in the middle of your program, it’s relatively new, or it isn’t new. Keep in mind developing those things, you know, your mass communication cadence, or the resources that you would fill that, you know, LMS with are the certifications, all of those need to be developed. And all of those take time. And it’s probably longer time than you would expect. And I’m sure we’ll do an episode on like certification, and, you know, resource development and all that. But I would say, definitely consider those as a nice to have. And depending on your stage in your program development, it could be a nice to have, but if it is you better have a lot of those resources already developed.

Tom Burgess 12:00

Yeah, and I would say a great way to kind of formulate that is you know, from a partnership perspective, your your goals, your cube, your, your OKRs is going to be about partner referred Arr, right like your, your scent, extension of the sales team, you’re generating revenue. So carry that through to what you need, from like a critical tech standpoint, which is, do we have a toolset that can help with lead flow lead generation, and then showcasing the revenue that we’re capturing?

Will Taylor 12:32

Yep. And I would say, although it’s not necessarily nice to have going off the the theme of depending on you know, how many partners you have, or how big your program is, there are tools out there like super glue, that helps to automate a lot of the more tedious tasks. And it can also be things like communications. And a tool like that, it really helps with, you know, being literally the glue to all of the different systems and relationships that you have for making sure that you can communicate. And so I would say, it’s good to do a deep dive on how you’re actually spending your time because I mentioned those administrative tasks. And of course, those payouts, those are going to be, you know, very time consuming, and I can tell you firsthand that they are but something like a superglue you, you might not be ready for it, you might be ready for it. But as part of your evaluation, it’s always good to take note of how much time am I actually spending on these things. And is it you know, as valuable to me to make a purchase for a tool that helps a live alleviate some of these things, because, you know, it may sound nice, but again, it’s a could be a nice time it could be a need to have. So finding where that balance is between, you know, we talked about the bare minimum and then also the nice to haves. The main thing is do that analysis on what is actually important. And what is going to help with that bottom line. What is going to help me you know, have data for the future? And how much time am I really spending on certain things versus others?

Tom Burgess 14:11

Yeah, yeah. And I think we’re willing are both we know that like budgets or budgets, but you have a budget, what you spend that on technology or not. The other the other side of this and I think one of the most important mindsets that a partner team should be in as much more of that scrappy, you know, like, what do we currently have and we talked about earlier, you need to be hyper aware of the tech fatigue or the tech stack that your internal team is using, from like a just like a vigilant standpoint. But you can also you can also tap into that for usability and you know, one of the pieces that you like, let’s let’s just take an LMS right, like partner education, you know, certifications like really modern and digestible ways to learn about products. positioning, you know, whatever it is. If your sales enablement team has an LMS in place, unless your PRM has LMS, you’ve purchased LMS functionality, or it has it already baked in and you’re willing to make that purchase. I’m, I’m a full subscriber to like, talk to other teams, talk to sales enablement. And like, Hey, I know we’ve got work grant, we’ve got seismic, we’ve got SAP Litmos, is there a way that I can build or partition, you know, education tracks for our partners, where we already know we’re paying for that tool set? And can we use that to our advantage? And I, that’s kind of combating the idea of tech fatigue, but you almost it’s almost like a survival play. Like if I can, if I can use tech that we have, as we ramp as we scale, as we look at MVP versus ideal state, be bullish, like ask your other teams like, Hey, can I get access to this? If not, why? And if they have a compelling reason, by all means, take it for what it’s worth. But if if they’re like, yeah, absolutely. You now have a path and an avenue to build around initiatives that are going to be important to your team scaling your team efficiency, and your partner success.

Will Taylor 16:16

Yep. I like that. The use of other technology, I think that could in some ways reduce tech fatigue, because you’re getting more use of that other technology. But even if you think of something like like Zapier, Zapier can do a lot of things, why not use that to not necessarily build your own tool, but you know, fill those gaps of, you know, once you do that analysis on where you’re actually spending time, maybe Zapier can help out, or you know, another tool that can, of course, do something similar. And so what I want to talk about is like, we got to give a shout out to some of the tools out there that are almost like table stakes, I would say, for any kind of partner function. And they’re also relatively easy to use, they’re straightforward and typically have a free version. So we’ve got a shout out reveal and cross beam, and the use of that tool. And we’ll get into like the different phases of how you can think about your tech stack as a partner person. But the reason that you’d start with these is because, one, it’s free to it’s easy to use, meaning it’s also easy to use for your partners. And three, it really helps with the validation. So if you’re just getting into building the partner program, and you’re needing to validate, hey, why should we partner, you can start using these tools to do those overlaps, understand? How much can it make sense for, you know, building an integration, how many like customers do we already have? How many, you know, prospects we have overlapped. And the best part about this is, and I don’t think it’s talked about enough, but you can use these in creative ways. So as an example, when I was at mailshake, I was overlapping email lists, because then you’re seeing audience data, and not just customer data. And you may have a really big email list. But you may not have as many customer overlaps, but you may have a lot of audience overlaps. And that can be extremely powerful. But even still, you can get insight into the numbers of your partners, and of course, how you overlap with them. And so these tools, whenever, you know, I’ve talked to people when they’re starting a program, or when I started a program at mailshake, that was the first thing that I, you know, went to Google made sure I signed up for and started getting the data in because the I don’t want to say the opportunities are endless, that might be too grandiose, but like, you can do a lot of cool things with this, especially for getting even more targeted. Let’s say you’ve ran a summit or something like that. You could overlap those summit attendees with, you know, your partner’s email list. And then you could make introductions for them. And so it really helps to guide the interaction. And I would say, this is probably actually not not even probably this is a technology that is table stakes for any program to make sure that you’re overlapping.

Tom Burgess 19:24

It’s a must have and the way that the way that you can envision something like a cross beam is in a couple of different prioritized avenues. One, you know, when you think about partnerships, there’s there’s the unknown from a partnership aspect, which is you’ve got partners that have known leads that are that show interest, have, you know, some buy into your product which is is going to come through the lead form, right, like it’s, it’s on them to like, own and capture, but it’s whether you know it or not It’s going to be there. But then something like a cross beam or reveal can really point into, you know, some of those like deeper overlaps, like, what are some of the prospect lists or like customer base that you know might have gone cold or turned out like it allows you to, to, like, put some gas to the fire a little bit in more like if conversations are going a little bit stale, like, hey, let’s come back to crossbeam. Let’s just like really focus on the revenue generating prospects, do you have contact with them? No, like, it just makes it very easy, black and white and transparent to talk about. But like as you like, truly scale. Now something like a cross beam comes into play. Like if you’re doing lead sharing, or if your sales team is hyper aware of partners that can implement your software really well, or like, build strategic data or strategic development around your product and scaling. Now use crossbeam to your advantage, and you start to like really, like pinpoint what that means. So that’s it, like to me like crossbeam reveal, we use it, you should use it. It’s important. Yeah.

Will Taylor 21:08

And I would say like, the reason I say it’s table stakes is because everything else that you do will come from that. And the reason that that is effective is because it makes those programs more pointed. So you know, if you’re starting co selling, it makes where you should cosell much more prevalent, or where you should co market or where you should deliver co success, it’s much more prevalent. So phase one of any program, get reveal, sign up for it, or you know, the crossbeam, any of the ones out there, use that system, you know, user reveal, do the overlaps and connect with your partners. And what’s great is these tools are starting to continuously develop the network, so you know, make suggestions of who you might partner with. And so that is another cool function where it really helps to guide where those interactions can go. And then I would say, a phase two is, again, this is a new program, phase two is get a PRM. And the reason again, that you would do this is you can start tracking that customer journey, whether it’s through you know, the affiliate links and partner stack, or if it’s the you know, lead submission and partner stack or all bounder and partner, whichever PRM that you go with, that is going to help to not only show you the direct impact on revenue, but you can start mapping out even further. Where do we need more resources? Where should we continue to put things in and you know, from the things that we did based on the overlaps and reveal what makes the most sense, based on the actual performance, and then of course, payouts and whatnot, as well, I would say part of these two, is think about the low friction or friction reducing tools as well. So something like a partner page where you can display your partners is going to be extremely beneficial. And Tom, we know just how difficult it was to build in the WordPress, the cards in this like catalog, it was a nightmare.

Tom Burgess 23:10

I don’t recommend 30 minutes per piece, like it was a it was a time suck. And yeah, part something like a partner, where you can automate that, like, now you’re talking about efficiencies gained completely agree.

Will Taylor 23:22

Yeah. And that’s like that has the long tail effect as well, where you know, once the partner is in there, maybe they need to do an update. But it’s you know, they won’t engage with it too much. So there’s not a lot of friction there. But then there’s, you know, good value that comes from displaying your partners. And then I would say part of phase two, as well as, again, depending on the programs that you’re running or the interactions that you have with your internal team, how much is developed in the way of resources, something like fluency is going to be great where it’s you know, that real time enablement for your sellers, where it can take you know, those keywords and identifying where a partner can fit in and delivering those resources in time, because, again, you’re focusing on driving that revenue. And you probably have a good enough idea in this phase to part where you know, when partners should be introduced, or at least you can start testing. And at this stage, you’re probably engaging the greater team even further. And so giving them the resources that help to reduce friction are going to be really good as well. So phase two, consider PRM something like partner page to show your partners or partner fleet, whichever one that you decide to go with. And then consider also that real time enablement from fluency. And then phase three. This one is interesting because this is, at least in this context, the you know, extended phase that’s going to keep going because you’re going to continuously do this piece but I would say consider phase three as the integration with other departments within the organization, or you know, better engaging with a different business units. And there is a lot of tools out there. Again, we talked about the tech landscape that Jamie McBain has really great resource if you’re trying to navigate where you should focus your efforts in terms of tech that you should buy, which we’ll link somewhere in the show notes. But a tools like everflo, where it’s a bit more complex in the way that you know, you need to be more of a partner market or more of a marketer to really understand and use it to its fullest capacity. But as you’re integrating into these other departments, if you’re wanting to really track and measure that influence, then I would say that is probably the best time to consider something where you know, which partners you’re engaging with, based on you know, your reveal overlaps, you know, that you have, like this direct revenue attribution. And you have, you know, you’re showing your partners and you’re giving this real time enablement to the sales team. And then from there, it’s like, okay, so what are the other levers that we can pull to get us to that direct revenue? So really focusing on what is indirect? And how can we leverage that and, of course, continue to influence the partners that are there. And so let me preface or other post, face all of that, with the fact that that is all for, you know, if you’re a net new program, or if you’re thinking about technology, just identifying where you might fall? Is it? Are we in phase one, are we in phase two, if you’re in an established program, then something like an ever flow might make more sense, you know, right away, you know, today while you’re listening to this, but it does depend on you know, how integrated you are with these other organizations, how many partners you have, and so on. So, that is generally how I would start to think about technology. And yeah, Tom?

Tom Burgess 26:55

Yeah. Well, I just had like a crazy thought. And one you nailed it, like, thinking about technology on that continuum, which is like, what, what are the absolute must sort of the foundational pieces, then what are the like, the nice to haves, the efficiency gains, and once again, like, tap into your internal teams, like if your internal team is using HubSpot great, like does that integrate with a PRM? Where you can send out mass communications, like, just be super scrappy? And honestly, like, if you have questions, reach out to us? How do you [email protected]? How do you partner? How do you partners [email protected]? Because we would love to answer your questions. But one of the bigger thoughts that I had, and this is maybe like a stress or anxiety reducing because like everything we talked about today is like you need to be like needle focused on like, when when do we pull the trigger on something like a PRM? When we pull the trigger on something like a fluency or reveal or partner page like, it’s, there’s never, there’s never the right decision, like there are there certain things that will and I would say you need from day one. But it’s going to be up to your discretion. Think about the trend in in sales technologies, like through COVID through remote work, like something, how sales teams have access to successfully and efficiently pull off their jobs, for lack of a better term. The same is happening with partner technology, like look in the past couple years, in terms of like the amount of PRs are out there, like the amount of like partner portal software is now you’ve got like fluency, superglue all these other great pieces that are really they’re built with partnerships in mind, I think we’re about to hit like a great wave of technology boom, from a partnership standpoint, that’s going to make partnerships relevant. Like that’s, that’s why technology is built. That’s why a lot of these tech companies are building these pieces out. So just don’t stress don’t freak out. Like there’s there’s a lot out there for you to pull off your job and build successful partnership programs, both from an external standpoint, what you put in front of your partners, but also like internally, like how you really like ride the wave and build efficiencies of your small team. So stick with it. I’m super passionate about technology. Well, and I could give you like the the 400 level course of like the operational background behind it. But we’ll save that for another episode.

Will Taylor 29:24

Love it. And yeah, we’re very well connected. If you are thinking about technology, reach out to us, you know, us at partner hacker as well. We work with a lot of the partner tech companies. So we have relationships there good perspective. So we are happy to help. But with that, thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. We will see you on the next one.

Tom Burgess 29:48

Bye everybody.

Multiple Contributors 29 min

Howdy Partners #15: Your Partner Team Tech Stack

You may not know what technologies you need in your stack to scale partnerships. From PRM's to CRM's and everything in between, join the fellas as they discuss tech pieces that are critical to your success.

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