Howdy Partners #4: Partner Recruitment

Howdy Partners #4: Partner Recruitment

Multiple Contributors 25 min

Partner recruitment is like picking up friends as you head west. You need to have solid outreach, a trust-based approach, and a steady plan to recruit partners that will help you grow. Ben & Will talk strategies and pitfalls to how and why your recruiting game needs to be excellent.

3 Key Takeaways

  1. Ben Wright’s approach to finding partner contacts
  2. He leverages an ecosystem, like Hubspot, to find companies. Then, he uses LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator to find target contacts (ideally the Director of Partnerships, Owner, or Revenue Officer). Once he’s found some names, he’ll use a tool like to get the contact info.
  3. Your email message needs to teach a potential partner that you know them, you can help them, and you care.
  4. Keep your email concise, but be sure to communicate that you understand them and you like them. Tell them why you’re reaching out and make sure to include a value statement, or what you’d like to give them through the partnership. If you want to go above and beyond, think of a give.
  5. Understand your partner before you reach out to them.
  6. When tech partners reach out to agency partners, don’t usually understand the business model. As a consequence, issues can arise.

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Full Transcript:

Will Taylor 00:00

Ah howdy partners, welcome back to another episode we are here with myself. And then we’re going to be talking about outreach to net new partners, we went through how to build your ideal partner profile, and the implications of building that you know where you can use that. And today is one of those episodes where we’re going to dive deep into one of those topics and give you that step by step on how you actually do that outreach. And Ben is an expert at this built many programs. And he’s in the thick of it right now. So it will be able to share his own relevant experience right now today. So Ben, thanks for joining. And I’m excited to dive into this one. I think this is one that a lot of people get wrong. So excited for your wisdom.

Ben Wright 01:08

Yeah. And we should probably mention that as there’s a there’s a missing person. So Tom, Tom, obviously, is my guest today. So probably could call us to three people. And there’s two, but I think we’ll still be able to provide some some value today. So yeah, I think in previous episodes, you’ve listened to us talk through ideal partner profile, which again, as a recap, is what does my ideal partner look like? Right, and we dug into that a little bit in, in other episodes. So once you’ve got that partner profile, what comes next, right, like you’ve you’ve developed this list, you’ve developed this, this profile, what are the next steps that you need to take to actually start to acquire partners, because if you haven’t got any partners, then you can’t drive any revenue. So it’s a critical part of the whole piece. So going to cover a couple of topics, I think, firstly, how to what tools really to to actually go and go and start or create that outreach. So I’ll run through a little bit of a recipe that I use and some tools that I find to be useful. And then secondarily, like, what does an outreach message look like? So once you’ve used those tools, you’ve got the contact information, what kind of stuff? Would I include an outreach message? And then finally, if you book that meeting, what what are my tips to kind of do before you jump on that call to make sure that the call that you have is going to deliver is going to deliver value. So to start in the very beginning, got your ideal partner profile, you figured out like a certain type of company. And again, I like to use real life examples to really kind of map that out. So for me, I think is the key kind of profile that I’m looking at looking at the moment and what I’ll use as an example, marketing agencies, right as a type of channel partner marketing agencies is one that we’re going to explore in real depth for HelpScout and specifically HubSpot marketing agencies, right so you niche down you really get kind of tight with with that partner profile. So HubSpot marketing agencies, how would I go about figuring out or finding partner contacts to jump on calls and then establish partnerships with? Well, firstly, with the HubSpot ecosystem, as you’re probably aware, well, they actually advertise their partners a ton. One of the benefits of being a HubSpot diamond partner is you’re listed on their website, so people can find you and raise revenue your way. So I take that list of HubSpot app partners at HubSpot marketing agency, sorry, that exist, I would then pull that name stick into LinkedIn. And I use Sales Navigator, probably like, in my opinion, one of the most impactful and effective tools that you can use, you can find everything with Sales Navigator, right, you can find Chief Revenue officers, you can find head of partnerships just by putting in a few simple keywords. So find the name. First of all, use Sales Navigator, navigate to that person specifically that you want to go after. And again, for marketing agencies, oftentimes, they’ll have a Director of Partnerships that’s going to earn that relationship. So that’d be number one. Outside of that, if they’re smaller, maybe even the owner of the agency or like a revenue or growth officer would be my other candidates who context I’d be looking at what yeah,

Will Taylor 04:17

I’ll just hop in there and say that, yeah, those agencies, they don’t always have that dedicated partnerships person. So like you mentioned focusing on revenue or the way that you can think about it when you’re doing that outreaches, who is doing the strategic thinking for the business. And so that’s where that revenue leader comes in, or the owner, depending on their size, because they will better understand how the partnership can help their business scale, both from a an exposure perspective, but also like the service development and all of that, and they’re likely going to be one of the ones that will sign off on that kind of thing, or, Hey, let’s build a new service. It’ll come from that person. So the way you can think about it is who deals with strategic revenue decisions, essentially way.

Ben Wright 05:02

Yeah, and even like to your point, they’re like even a business development person sometimes is the one that’s been because they understand the value of partnerships as a driver for eventual revenue. So even on the rule base level, like, I would suggest, to always point anybody that’s own this owning the growth or revenue that’s tied to a marketing agency would be a good person to, to reach out to. So So yeah, once you’ve navigated, and you found and you can even do it with a couple of contacts, sometimes divorce point, if you’re not entirely sure who would partnerships, I would, I would actually navigate to a couple of profiles. And then there’s other tools in the market. But for me, the easiest tool to actually get an email address of those people is Apollo They offer free accounts. So even if you want to try it out, we’re not sponsored by them maybe in the future, but, great tool to pull, pull key contact information. And then from there, what you have is you figured out, okay, marketing agency, you figured out, this is the person that’s going to care about partnerships. And then finally, you have that, you have that email address, when you’ve got your email address, I would also advise putting it in some type of sequencing or tracking tool. Because I think if you do it individually from Gmail, it can get, you can kind of get lost, you don’t know who’s opened it, all that kind of stuff. So you’ve got the contact information, stick it into outreach, and then you’re kind of ready to do to do outbound as well, any I guess you do the same kind of thing, anything that differs from your process and how you’d you’d identify and then actually gather that contact information. Yeah,

Will Taylor 06:36

that’s that’s exactly how I would go about it. I like Lucia, they also have a free system that where you can grab context, ultimately, it doesn’t matter as if you’re using, you know, a relatively popular one probably got a good contact. So I would say that’s the the best process, especially going on LinkedIn, because you’ll probably get a feel for does this person, you know, post on LinkedIn, you can think that will be a part of my strategy, when I’m doing outreach, which is going to be the next piece that we talked about. But getting that perspective, after you do that research will be good, because maybe their company is very active on social. And that can be an important part of your strategy, especially when you’re starting to target if you’re doing engagement and whatnot. So I love that piece. Definitely a part of the process for sure.

Ben Wright 07:24

Yeah, cool. So we’ve got the email, you’ve used whatever tools, you want to use, whatever your preferences or whatever your organization has. So so now you get to the point of, okay, we’ve got the email address, we put it into our tool of choice, now we’re going to craft that message. And ultimately, our end goal here is to book a call, right? Because I think there’s only so much value that you can, that you can pass on via email. So really, the key goal of this email is somebody to open it and want to book a call with you to learn more. So again, I think for me, and I think we’re aligned with this will, but really, your message should be all about the partner. Meaning that what you’re not going to write is a message that talks HelpScout does this, this is what we do, I hope scale, you want to make it about the partner in the way that you talk about their business, how you understand their business, but then how HelpScout could only benefit their business and actually bring them revenue and value. So for me those the key things that I’m putting in or thinking about, when I’m starting there are the outreach email is how can I convey that my solution is ultimately going to make your marketing agency better, right, like that is for me the central underpinning. And again, we’ll, I’ll kick it back to you, because I know you’re you’re pretty kind of strong on this, this point of providing value. But does that kind of sound right to you anything else you’d add? And,

Will Taylor 08:48

yeah, I like the core focus of it being on them first, and the value you can bring to their business, which will inevitably be through the clients that they serve as well. And the biggest challenge that a lot of especially tech partners face when reaching out to agency partners is they don’t really understand the business model. And so once you’ve developed that IPP, and you’re using that to inform your outreach, and of course, who you’re targeting, you’ll inevitably have a much better understanding of how those businesses work, and what that value actually is. And so that’s why naturally IPP development first getting into the outreach and building that message. And essentially, you want to think of it as if you were to say this message that you’re writing to a person in person, you know, you got a networking event or a conference. Would it sound weird if you were to talk about your business only? And say, Hey, do you want to go, you know, sit down and talk for 15 minutes? Probably. And it wouldn’t be very interesting either. It wouldn’t really spark the Oh yeah. Wow. Let’s I want to hear what this person has to say or I want to read it. Instead, if you say of very compelled then, you know, opening line that focuses on their business and what they get out of engaging further with you, then it’s, it’s like, okay, well, I do want to learn more, because I can clearly understand how this is going to benefit my business, even if it’s at a high level, because I care about my business, not about anyone elses. And so if you translate that value into my mind very simply, then it’ll be much easier to then of course, book a call or take them to that next step. So love, love that core focus that you have there.

Ben Wright 10:32

Yeah, I think it’s an important point to mention. One you kind of caught out there is like, the agency world is different to the tech world in the way that they do business and the way they go to market. So your point there about part of the message needs to almost teach them about like, Why the hell are you reaching out right, like and offer some understanding, I think is, I think is spot on there. And one that actually like I probably need to do more of is explaining how we differ because when you’re partnering with a tech company, they get it right. They’ve done this before they’ve done it with other tech partners, or it’s a very well known, go to market strategy. With agencies. It’s not as well known. Not a lot of agencies do this, do this. Well, at the moment. They’re starting to but but not all the audit. Well, so yeah, I agree. I think I think the education piece is is critical. And that was a that was a good a good call out there. So again, real life example. I’ll give you an example of you know, and let’s just call it HubSpot agency y or x. What I did what I do first of all is congratulate them on being a diamond partner. Right. So congratulations. Congratulations. You are making diamond partner status with HubSpot. That’s great, right for phenomenal however you want to word it. I then kind of drop in how we also relate to HubSpot at Help Scout in a way, right. We’re one of the top app partners in the HubSpot ecosystem. And we’ve got 1000s of customers that integrate our helpdesk solution with HubSpot. Okay, so you’re dropping into your point a little bit of education as to why the hell I’m reaching out to or not just reaching out to this marketing agency, just to talk about their diamond partner status. The second piece is then the hook or the carrot, I would say I’m drawing altogether. Because of both of us both of our connections to HubSpot, it probably means we’ve got some customer overlap, again, relating it to something that they can they can add and relate to right. So we’ve got joint customers, which is agreed, agreed sign, and then drop in what they’ve gathered partnering with HelpScout. So something around, hey, we partner with agencies like yours from a referral basis, in addition to co marketing, to drive revenue both ways. So all about the bi directional lead flow, or value flow, I guess, and then just worth a chat. So I think in that message, what you’ve got is a little bit that you understand their agency, and you’re calling out the great point about it’s a diamond partner. Second bit about why I’m reaching out why HelpScout correlates to our agency. And then thirdly, the value statement here is what I’d like to give you through a partnership. Any other things that you drop in there well, or do you kind of agree with that being a good, a good first,

Will Taylor 13:06

yeah, that that structure is good, I would say this is more of a bonus, because you know, what you described is the fundamentals. And if you want to try and take it that step further, you do have to get creative with this, but trying to give them something and that give can be a variety of things. But it could be as simple as, and this would be at the start of your email, was wondering if I could quote you in this blog. And the reason for that is because you get them exposure and might not be you know, massive SEO benefits, it’s not going to send them a bunch of business. But it’s still that tiny little gift that makes them think, Okay, I’m important enough for this person to want, you know, my input on this topic. So if you can layer that in, then that’ll help with getting the email open, bringing a bit of delight, and then also giving that small little piece to them, even if they don’t do anything, you know, even if they don’t have a call. And maybe they say yeah, sure, you don’t have time for a call, but we’d love to, you know, be quoted on your blog, then, you know, you get a diverse perspective for your content. And they get, you know, a little bit extra, which may pay dividends in the future. So that again, that’s more of a bonus, try and layer that in wherever you can and try and be creative with it. But even something as simple as I want, you know, 10 words on this topic. What are your thoughts, that could be something that delights them and helps you stand out? Because you know, if everyone’s saying, This is my program, and this is why we’re great. And you know, it doesn’t focus on the partner themselves, then it won’t be as compelling. And so when you bring that in, then it will be more compelling because you’re standing out from the crowd.

Ben Wright 14:47

Yeah, yeah, given given them something immediately, as always, is always great, right. I think we’ve had an example recently where I had somebody reach out for a marketing agency and we help scale transparent, you’ve only just started to turn our attention to marketing agencies. So we haven’t got any signed. But we were in conversations with a marketing agency. And I gave him the lead before we even signed a partnership, right, which is like, I mean, amazing, right? I agree with the previous kickoff the partnership. So I think final part here just to conclude, outreach is okay, you’ve written a phenomenal funnel piece of an email or outreach content. And somebody the marketing agency has responded and is like, will love the message? Yes, this makes total sense. Let’s jump on a call. And you set the time you use Calendly. Other Other tools exist, but candidly, again, sponsorship, if you want to, you want to chuck something in the ring. Burner yet. So Steve, you’ve got a call booked? What do you do before the call to again, make yourself stand out? Right, like table stakes here or you know, the program, you’re going to present the program? Phenomenal, right? That’s table stakes. That’s what you should be prepared to do. But what In addition, can you do to really stand out from the crowd and have that agency person? Leave the call thinking this will be a phenomenal partner for us. Right? Again, will you go up the point they’re probably being courted by the tech companies like this is starting to become a channel for for a lot of different tech companies now. But how would you stand out? I think firstly, the thing that I would really do is, is dig into their website, figure out what services they offer, dig into a few case studies and kind of learn a few of those not off by heart, but in but in enough enough depth where you can call them out like, Oh, I saw the work you did with X customer, right? Like that was cool. Maybe it was a HubSpot piece, dig into the HubSpot connection, like we talked about before. But really showing that you the the you understand the business. And then the other piece that I like to talk through is just partnerships holistically. So actually figuring out what do you do for partnerships? What have been the best partners for you? And what do they do? Alternatively, what struggles are you having with the partnership program, I like to become on those calls the trusted advisor and give advice to them about how to do partnerships. And it happened the other day where somebody has asked me like, we did a lunch and learn and it got got things going, but then it kind of went did what would you recommend in future? So we’re not actually talking about HelpScout. On our partnership, we’re just talking about partnerships. All right. And, and I think as a, as like a semi expert, I would say in the space, they really appreciate just that like knowledge sharing, and it gets the guest the partnership kicked off on the right foot. So those are a few tips, I guess for for preparation. And then when you’re on the call, I don’t know if there’s anything else that you’d add, and then we’ll but but those are the ones that I like from from us.

Will Taylor 17:37

Yeah, that, that I was actually thinking about that today, where a lot of organizations, you know, even if they seem very established, you know, they have a nice website and you know, hundreds of employees, that doesn’t necessarily mean that their partner program is amazing. It could be brand new, even it could be that it’s, you know, the person is three months in and you’re on a call with them. And so the business advice or the business guidance, when you take on that approach, especially with the persona that you’ll be reaching out to, again, whether it’s a specific partnerships person, or if it’s someone who is in more of a strategic role for revenue, if you’re able to, you know, get the gears turning for them on the possibilities of how their business can grow further, that is invaluable. It is free consulting, essentially. And this is perhaps why partnerships, people are typically very entrepreneurial, and spirit, they’re thinking through these ways creatively how businesses can grow together. And so if you’re displaying that, it’s both helpful for that other business, but it also shows that a you understand their business, and be you’re actively working to figure out how the business can work better with this type of partner. And so using the agency example, it’s perhaps even more true, especially if they’re a smaller agency where maybe they haven’t been in business that long, and they do need that guidance. And so that amount of value, it has so many, like, endpoints in terms of the interaction and how beneficial it is, that I mentioned, where you know, it’s in general you’re giving, which is good for, you know, a lot of reciprocity and relationships, understanding their business and showing that you really believe in the partnership. So the way that you can do that, again, is using that ideal partner profile. Even if you just review that before entering into a call paired with those customer stories. What you’ll then be able to do is have this Northstar of why are we actually talking it’s not for me to get leads and more revenue. Sure that’s a part of it. But ultimately, the reason why we’re talking and the reason I sent that message and the contents of that message was all about their business becoming better through this partnership. And so when you prepare yourself with that information, it’s hard to go in and say, Yeah, let’s do some account mapping and see, you know, are there any leads? You can give me? No, okay, there’s no partnership here. Because if you frame that entrance into the call, with, Oh, I gotta get revenue, then you’re going to come up with a call, only focusing on that. And so like, you mentioned that customer story review, I like that you call that out, because that allows you to thread the needle, as well. And by that, I mean, you know, maybe there’s a customer who had a problem, or, you know, fits the ICP that your company services where you could say, Oh, that’s interesting that you achieve these results, we can achieve these results. So let’s brainstorm you know, what the potential would be if we combined those two, what would that look like? And then that’s when you can get into that creativity in that business, strategizing with that individual. And even as we’re talking about it, hopefully, that sounds like, you know, if I was on the receiving end of that, wow, that’d be a lot of value. That’d be something that you know, you would pay for. So it’s all about that mindset, and the way you frame it. And the way that you do frame that is, again, review that IBP look at those customer stories, and focus in on why are we actually entering this call that will help for then having the execution be much more focused on the partnerships core, versus you know, let’s get some revenue. So, any other thoughts? there been any other color that?

Ben Wright 21:34

No, no, I guess just just to have a recap again. And as always, we’ll be following up with with something tangible at the end of this call probably some type of outreach guide or temblor or something that people can take away and, and use but yeah, recap ways offer an IPP, get yourself some tools that enable you to go out and actually capture information that you need to start start outreach, do outreach in a considerate way that provides value to the person you’re reaching out to. And then pre and during the call, again, value off the other person value. Don’t just talk about revenue, don’t just talk about how you’re going to send us money, but really form a partnership. So So I guess that would just be my final kind of evaluation and, and recap of what we’ve covered today.

Will Taylor 22:19

Awesome. I love it. And so coming out of today, our next episode is going to focus on how to run those calls and move them through to actually becoming a partner. And this will be of course, focusing on your qualifications, those discovery questions and really making sure that you’re a good fit, because ideas can sound great to partners, and you can get really excited about it. But you do need to look at some of the qualification metrics when you are vetting any kind of partner so stay tuned for that. That’ll come next week. And that’s another episode of How to partners thanks so much for listening.

Multiple Contributors 25 min

Howdy Partners #4: Partner Recruitment

Ben and Will talk about recruitment strategies and pitfalls, and why your recruiting game needs to be excellent.

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